Life After Cambridge: Part Two

This week, IZZY PRITCHARD celebrates the redemptive powers of sensible shoes, and negotiates post-grad, chat-based interaction. She survives, just about.

activities awkward beard Cantab chat conversation Freshers graduation Izzy Pritchard post grad sensible shoes socialising Wine

‘Are you a fresher?’

It is a simple question, so I give a simple answer.

‘Yes, I am.’

Yet, in the course of conversation, when they discover that you are a different and more ferocious species of newbie, they turn and run from you.

You are a post-grad. You might be youthful of face, but you are old. You are serious about study. Attempting friendship would be futile. I was apprehensive about what it meant to be a post-grad. My friends teased me that I would have to invest in some matching socks to wear in my sandals. I would have to grow a beard.

Noticing a short hair on my upper lip, I nurtured a hope that I could grow it some friends in a bid to fit in with my new peer group. Alas, my upper lip has remained distinctly un-bristly, more failed Movember attempt than Dumbledore face-warmer.

Even so, as term approached I found myself dutifully stocking up on woolly cardigans, attempting to fulfil the post-grad stereotype.

I even bought a pair of sensible shoes.

When my ‘Welcome Week’ pamphlet came through in the post I studied it keenly. Fancy dress club nights and pub crawls a-plenty. Opportunities to get really drunk and make lots of new bezzies for life.  But was I really invited? Did they really want me, the old and seriously-clad post- grad?

Thankfully, we also had the picnic and the boat cruise on the Thames. I could even wear my new sensible shoes to those.  A chance to meet and greet without having a variety of teenage tongues thrust down my throat? Perfect.

So I had my post-grad setting and I had my post-grad outfit. Next problem was my post-grad chat.

It begins along similar lines to an undergrad conversation: ‘Name? Course? From?’ This I could cope with; this I had rehearsed. But now there were more questions that I was less prepared for: ‘Occupation? Research interests? Languages spoken? Countries lived in? NGO worked for? Orphans lives saved? World wars pacified?’


Maybe I should tell them I was Green Officer on my college JCR? Or that at 18 I spent six weeks painting a Tanzanian school a delightful shade of magnolia? Or about that summer I spent banishing poverty, disease, and hunger in the slums of Delhi purely through the medium of interpretive dance?

Or maybe not. Perhaps I should just stick with the sad truth. I just graduated.  I spent three comfortable years in Cambridge whilst they were digging up landmines and being worldly and securing their places in heaven.

‘Can I get you a drink?’

Finally, a question I can answer. Post-grads buy rounds, which is great (until it’s your turn, of course). Avoiding the vodka and coke – the beverage of the undergraduate – I opt for a classy glass of white wine. I’m finding my feet.

Fortunately, there might still be time for me to eradicate world poverty; I am still young, after all. Where they might have experience, I have my BA hons (Cantab, don’t you know).

And with a good pair of sensible shoes, what’s standing in my way?

 Illustration by Esther Harding