LOTTIE UNWIN reflects on Freshers’ Week.
I have been startled by my incessant moaning to people I have just met this week (and reassured by everyone else doing the same).
There has been an atmosphere of embitterment floating around the hospital-like corridors of Homerton’s ‘Fresher’s Only’ West House this week. To have a ‘Fresher’s Day’ before essays begin, and repeated warnings that we really might be burnt alive, does seems to us newcomers a breach of our civil rights. Or at least that’s a fair representation of how much I have talked and heard our anger talked about.
My friends at UCL have a fortnight of Fresher’s antics and in my most tired moments this week I have passionately argued that that means they are granted exactly 14 times as much fun – though we all knew what we were letting ourselves in for when we went through blood, sweat and tears to get here. This amnesia to the application process seems to be coupled amongst us Freshers with a similar dulling of the common sense with which we found our interview rooms in the first place. I have sat in my room freezing, enraptured by my apprehension of just how ridiculously cold February is going to be, only to be told by someone a little less destroyed by the Pub Crawl than I was that we had under floor heating. I must say that whilst I take credit for my own stupidity I find the apparent unavoidable truth that ‘no one tells you anything’ at Cambridge, well, rather unforgiving of our confusion (there are no Crystal Maze clues for said thermostat, let alone a nice laminated piece of paper to tell you it exists). I struggle to understand the decision to prioritise providing us with swine flu prevention notes, notes on what to do if you have swine flu and encouragement to find a swine flu friend, to commit a kind of honorary suicide in the eventuality that you fall ill, above notes on how to stay warm. But that’s how things are around here.
Yes, we have all earned our places here on the premise of some intellectual capacity and a martyr like dedication to the cause of our subjects but no, that doesn’t mean we are happy to exercise either of them. Or at least, we all will happily exercise both stoically attending library tours and meetings dripping alcohol sweat but we want to talk about it constantly. And, in the end perhaps while the perspective lacks a certain optimistic charm, our moaning might just be the way us Brits make our new life long friends.