Two months are all you need to master the quaint, quiet town of Cambridge. Officially part of Cambridgeshire, the town gives off a distinctively English university vibe-- no surprise, as the massive towers of King's Chapel dominate the skyline. Stumbling home drunk at 2 AM, after a Monday night at Lola Lo's nightclub and a pitstop at the Trailer of Life for "chips", is a completely safe, and a totally normal, activity for many. PKP (Pembroke-King's College) students benefit from the benevolent porters lending spare keys, making it possible for the (generally) 19 - 22 year olds to get a few hours of sleep before class the next morning.
Class times vary based on course classification-- modules 1 and 2 operate for a month each, July and August respectively, whereas module 3 courses span seven weeks. With a three course minimum, students have the opportunity to supplement one class with a "supervision:" the chance to work with a graduate student or (if you're lucky!) a lecturer on a term paper of your choosing.
I unfortunately did not realize that most courses were taught by graduate students until I got there; nevertheless, I had one laughably easy class and one extremely demanding one. My supervision, once so eagerly anticipated, resulted in a total disaster, with me ultimately deciding to drop the unhelpful graduate student assigned to me and writing the 25-page thesis on my own.
Other than the disappointment of academics, which were modified from the typical Cambridge-style to appeal to us (mostly) Americans, the program activities--including a voyage to Edinburgh, Scotland, plenary lectures with prestigious speakers, wine receptions, formal halls, trips to London, croquet, punting, and trivia nights at the Cambridge Union Society's bar--all made for an extremely fun two months. With several small airports around, flying to another country could be a matter of less than $100 and a few hours, and many of us traveled extensively. Accommodations vary, slightly frustratingly--for the same price as someone with a bathroom, I was stuck in essentially a closet. But after mentioning this to the directors, I was moved into the most gorgeous room I believe exists in the program. As a result, I rarely went to the libraries, though those are spectacular as well. The grounds are absolutely beautiful (especially Pembroke), and despite much of the complaining about the food, I found it to be much better than I had expected (for British cuisine). The Programme Assistants are Cambridge students themselves, keen to plan events for their PKPers, and the Directors and lecturers mingle freely with the students, making for a very entertaining number of different friendships.
And the people you meet... everyone in the program is intelligent and friendly, and it's easy to find people who align with any number of your interests. It's very easy to become extremely close, extremely quickly. I came away missing my PKP network, and despite the sunshine and comfort of my Californian home, missed England and Europe far more than I'd like to!
Basically, if you are coming from a top-tier university, the academic level at Cambridge's summer program might disappoint; they seemed to simplify the normal system as to adjust it to us, but as the British system favors a heavy reading load and a final exam, it's not too hectic until the last week or so. But everything else was spectacular, as you might expect one of the most famous universities in the world to be. If you have the summer and the money, go to Cambridge (and on the weekends, go everywhere else).