Johnathan Zemlik

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The Tab's very own fresher columnist JOHNATHAN ZEMLIK talks about what we've all got in common: a feeling of inadequacy.

Before I arrived, I thought Cambridge would be full of Dukes and millionaires quaffing champagne and laughing at my Northern accent. I was absolutely certain I wouldn’t fit in.

But after Freshers’ Week drinks in the master’s lodge, the fears and assumptions that had been occupying my mind over the last few months began to subside as I discovered everyone was pleasant and normal. Or at least as normal as you can be in Cambridge. Let’s face it: if you come up (or down) to Cambridge, you’re obviously not a run of the mill person.

In fact, the only things that unify everyone here are our academic prowess and the lingering doubt that we’re not good enough to be here.

After all the hard work and grief it took to get here, the last thing I felt before climbing into the Landover for the journey down was a feeling of total inadequacy.

When I arrived, the excitement of meeting new people and the pace of the first day shielded me from my doubt. But as I lay awake in the early hours of Monday morning after a booze and sweat bonanza at Cindies and Fez, my doubt resurfaced. I thought of all my friends who had failed to get a place and wondered what the difference was between them and me. As far as I could see, there was none.

And so I took a gamble, and the next day I asked one of the other people on my course about it. He too declared his lingering doubts about his position here. And the more people I talked to, the more I heard the same thing. Solidarity is a sweet medicine.

Although people may act like they know what they’re doing, most don’t. When I meet the stereotypical public school educated southerner from the likes of Westminster and Charterhouse I’m pleasantly surprised to realise they are actually just like me. We share similar experiences, aspirations and interests, and above all, we all feel we shouldn’t be here.

But I can’t help but wonder: if I was smart enough to get into Cambridge, why wasn’t I smart enough to realise the stereotypes are absolute rubbish?

  • Impressed

    Yes! Best columnist this term.

    • Marge/Horan

      Darling, if you've only met people from "Westminster and Charterhouse" then you have only met "minor public school boys" not public school boys. Big difference. We OE's are real wankers, completely different to you, and above all feel hugely that we deserve to be here…

  • Fellow Corpuscle

    Here, here!

  • ……………

    I can tell you're a fresher. If you still think you have to be clever to get into Cambridge at the end of your course I'll be surprised.

  • Sunday

    Danger Cindies?

  • Honest

    Is it just me who thinks this column is boring, obvious and has been done to death?

  • Mathew

    yes it is just you, go on Jonny lad, interesting tab

  • Josh Fry

    Yes, great column! I'm sure reading this has put alot of people at ease! And honest, yes it is just you, stop sipping on the haterade!

  • Another Northerner

    No stereotypes? This lad's blatantly not at John's then.

  • Sophie Thorpe

    Come from the slums, do you?

  • Rustic arms

    bell end.

  • Jake

    Go on JZ, glad you're alright lad x

  • Jen

    "Let’s face it: if you come up (or down) to Cambridge, you’re obviously not a run of the mill person."

    Let's think about this for a minute. Are you honestly saying that every single student at Cambridge is a unique, remarkable and somehow qualitatively different person to those elsewhere? REALLY?

    • Old hand

      Well, I'd say that anybody attending the best university in the world probably isn't run of the mill…and from my experience no one at Cambridge is run of the mill! Everyone has their little quirks!!

  • the critic

    for starts it isn't the best university in the world. that is an opinion and i find this a very stereotypical article and not really a related piece of writing.

    • Suspicious

      Something tells me you don't go to Cambridge…

      • the critic

        ohhh on the contrary

  • ashley turner

    Go on JZ ! Nice article :) keep it up ! x

  • Cooper

    Come on Johnny, you've spelt Land Rover wrong, should you really be at Cambridge?
    Caroline was going on about how she missed you singing the other day! So believe it or not, you're missed in Yorkshire, by some people at least…

  • Georgie Rastall

    I'll keep reading Johnny! Great stuff :) Missing you! x

  • Steve J

    Hi Johnny, can I ask if you're not 'rich' as you put it, how do you afford 2 horses? Haha, not that you have to be rich to have horses….

    • louis

      he is rich lol

  • Law

    Nice one JZ!!
    Cooper misses you really!!!

  • Northener

    Good article, but speaking as a northener in his second year you can expect a little snobbery. Some people do fit the Cambridge stereotype, but not many.

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