In Sickness and In Health

The verdict? Cambridge is bad for your health.

Amoxicillin Cambridge Clubbing College Drinking Drinking Societies Freshers Life the tab Van of Death Van of Life

‘Acute tracheitis’ was the doctor’s verdict, and having whinged to friends and family about my rasping cough, and pissed off numerous fellow students in various libraries (I’ve had to become nomadic – after an hour of repeated coughing fits in one location, I feel obliged to spread my germs elsewhere), I have been met with frankly poor levels of sympathy. ‘Stop smoking then. Moron,’ has been the closest I’ve got to compassion. So now I’m using a public forum to moan piteously instead. Maybe the Mail will pick up on it and a kind benefactor will send me a life’s supply of Amoxicillin.

Cambridge makes me ill. Insufficient sleep, poor diet, close proximity to other germ carriers during our stellar nightlife scene (by ‘close proximity’, I mean, being saturated with other people’s sweat in Cindies) – it’s hard to go a week, let alone eight without catching something nasty. And Cambridge offers such a variety of illnesses to catch and spread – both mental (it doesn’t just ‘help’ if you’re mad, it’s a prerequisite) and physical. Check out the symptoms below and self-diagnose. You’ve definitely got something.

Freshers Flu

Isn’t exclusive to Freshers’ Week. Once it’s in your college, you’ll continue to get the symptoms sporadically throughout term. Isn’t exclusive to Freshers either. Another reason to avoid leching on the hot jailbait – she might look pretty but she’s a breeding ground for the virus. Trust me.

Symptoms: Flu-like. Snotty, sore throat, rasping cough, headache, feeling like you’ve been run over by a bike on King’s Parade.

Likelihood of infection: Certain. You can’t avoid a proximity to nasty freshers who’ve carried their unique brand of germs from across the country. Southerners like to blame anyone who lives above the Watford Gap. Unless it’s swine flu, you’ll probably be alright. If it is swine flu, call your flu friend and prepare for the long haul.

Cure: Stay in your room. No one cares. they’ve all got it too and they don’t want to hear about the colour of your mucus.

Week Five Blues

Mid-term? Feeling down? Yeah? Well everyone else does so wait in line.

Symptoms: Misery. Hysteria. Emails to your DoS at 4am, pleading unspecified ‘personal problems’ and begging for another extension. Inappropriate hook-ups at the conveniently-timed mid-term bop, because you just want to feel loved.

Likelihood of infection: Unless you’re mentally sound (which, as we’ve already ascertained, you definitely aren’t), you’ll get this one too.

Cure: Self-destruct. Instead of hitting the books, hit the bar. Hard. Twelve shots later and you’re professing your love to all and sundry and snogging the Corpus Clock in a symbolic statement of your rekindled love for the place.


Symptoms: Late-night drunken texts to the object of your affections, extreme social awkwardness in their company, uncontrollable staring (yes, it is creepy. Stop. Stop now.) at them in lectures.

Likelihood of infection: Don’t ask me to explain the mysteries of the human heart. Might depend on how your college rates in ‘Fit College’. (Coming soon to The Tab).

Cure: Ask them out. No, no, actually, don’t. Do not. Lovesickness means you are actually incapable of holding a conversation with them until you’re eight drinks deep, by which point, spilling drink nine of the night and then throwing up on their shoes is the likely result of this dialogue.

The Hangover

You’ve probably never suffered this much before. As a product of our insane workload, swap culture, college bars and one of the aforementioned mental conditions, Cambridge students are incapable of just having that one pint. ‘Excess’ and ‘ring of fire’ are the keywords here; ‘vomit’ and ‘shame’ will be in a few hours time.

Symptoms: Cracking headache, anxiety about the previous night’s antics, vomit, exhaustion, potentially waking up somewhere you definitely don’t live.

Likelihood of infection: Rises exponentially depending on whether you took advantage of the college bar’s cheap shots or not.

Cure: Sit in bed. Do not look at your sentbox. Maybe ask the kind friend who took you home last night – if you got home that is – to give a sugar-coated version of how bad you were last night. (Answer: pretty bad if you had to enlist said-friend.)

Death by Van

They’re just too convenient for their (your) own good. Right in the centre of town, it’s hard to avoid wandering past one of them on the way home.

Symptoms: A bit nasty to put delicately. Use your imagination, you’ve all had food poisoning before.

Likelihood of infection: Depends how drunk you were the night before (the more drunk, the more likely you are to sample one of the two Vans’ daily ‘specialties’ – think ‘unidentifiable entrails packaged to look like a burger’ and you’re on your way.

Cure: Stay near a toilet (that’s as explicit as I’m going) and don’t touch anything from there again. Or, if you don’t think that’s possible, at least give your body a rest for a week or so.

The Fear

Email from your DoS, title: ‘Your Academic Progress’. Pause for dutch courage. Open. Scan it, wincing; unable to process proper sentences, you end up seeing only phrases such as ‘unacceptable’, ‘missed supervisions’, ‘meeting to discuss this’ and ‘deadline’.

Symptoms: Either, a spontaneous reawakening of your love for your subject, resulting in absurd hours in the library and a death of your social life as you know it, or, more likely, going into Hermes denial for a week (you just don’t want to get hurt again), going on a massive bender in rebellion and waking up outside your DoS’ study, a bottle of Jack Daniels in hand, and vague recollections of heading over there at about 3am the previous night with a view to ‘giving him/her a piece of your mind’.

Likelihood of infection: Depends how hard you work/how sympathetic your DoS is.

Cure: Get your act in gear or get a third.