Freshers’ Week: A Fresh Perspective

The Tab chats to some of this year’s newbies to find out how they found the whirlwind that is Freshers’ Week.

Cindies food Freshers Freshers Fair Freshers Week Lola Lo Old Buildings Sainsbury's Union work

The Freshers’ Week dust is settling. Late nights in Cindies are being replaced by all-nighters in the library.

We’ve been chatting to members of Cambridge’s newest intake about their experiences of this week of gowns, booze and debauchery…is it really all it’s cracked up to be?

Joe Marshall – Emma

“You better make Freshers’ week count,” I was told by a disdainful Manchester student before I came up to Cambridge, “because you won’t have any fun for the rest of the year.” Well I tried. Perhaps everyone else was more successful or has more appetite for awkward conversation with strangers, but I couldn’t help but feel that Freshers’ was just a large dose of uncomfortable socialising that became gradually more natural each day.

Even my nights out were a little spoilt by hoards of freshers descending on Cindies, resulting in a two hour queue and a room packed with people involuntarily grinding on you as they got off to the Lion King soundtrack. So maybe I failed to make Freshers’ count. But fortunately I think I might get away with it because, touch wood, I hear people do actually sometimes enjoy themselves for the other six months of the year.

The hordes descend

Natanya Mark – Emma

The grandiose structures of Cambridge University are not the most welcoming of buildings, and only fuelled the nervous fresher inside me as I crawled through the packed streets towards my new home. I, like many others who pass through Cambridge University, felt utterly intimidated by my own preconceptions of the age-old traditions and inhumanely intelligent people around me.

But sitting in my newly renovated room – locked away inside an ancient College building – I realised that it was indeed possible to get past the imposing façade of this University. Over the course of Freshers’ Week, I pre-drank in Old Court before hitting up Life, and broke out into a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ with the rest of the Union in the middle of the Freshers’ Debate. The old buildings and strange ceremonies, which intimidated me so much on my arrival, have quickly faded into normality.

Jess Franklin – Corpus

As I write this, eating a Sainsbury’s Basics apple, I must confess that adapting to student food has been the biggest challenge of university. Having never cooked anything other than rice, the first night without Hall food was very dark indeed, resulting in me eating a bar of chocolate until a neighbour presented me with a microwavable baked potato at around 10pm. Not really understanding the concept of a microwavable potato, I failed to cook it, and ate it cold.

The home of the infamous Basics range

I decided not to bring a kettle with me, thinking that convening around the communal one would be sociable. This has backfired: I have severed all ties with the outside world, as nobody will come and drink tea in my room. Other omissions include a cereal bowl, so I’ve been eating cereal out of a mug, an ordeal made even more delightful by the lingering burn of last night’s vodka. But I’m not the only one who’s succumbed to student food attitudes. Last night I found two freshers picking uneaten bagels out of the bin, despite their generous jacket of mould, on the grounds that “no student should ever waste food.” Think I’ll be sticking to Hall in future.

Mollie Wintle – Murray Edwards

I’d been warned several times about the social life before I came to Cambridge – the nightlife was supposedly restricted to three clubs, none of which were called by their real names, and all of which were shit. But my first night at Lola’s wasn’t so bad – although all I remember are sparkling lights, and expressing mild surprise at the fact that the whole of North London seemed to have relocated to Cambridge.

I went crazy at the Freshers’ Fair (watch out, Tolkien Society) and even made it to a Union debate. Freshers’ week was neither the best nor the worst week of my life. Whilst my corridor has bowed to fresher pressure and reluctantly embraced YOFO (You’re Only Fresh Once) essays have been set, supervisions timetabled, and students everywhere are creeping back into the library. We’ll see how it goes from here.

Christina Sweeney-Baird – Magdalene

Freshers’ week was a hectic, occasionally terrifying, but amazingly fun whirlwind. Nestled in amongst introductions and club nights, the beginnings of work didn’t register as particularly important. “Meeting supervisors is AWESOME,” I thought as I ignored their reading list emails. Then, all of a sudden, the week was over. My level of anxiety wasn’t helped by the fact that every time a second year asked me which subject I read, they winced melodramatically as the word “law” left my lips.

Now, battling through my first essay, I realise I probably should have combined work with freshers’ events and done everything in moderation yada yada. But, in my defence (or perhaps delusion), you only have one chance to really enjoy Cambridge before work is obligatory. I’m glad I got a chance to find my feet before work knocked me off them again.


Freshers’ Week can be absolutely everything that it’s rumoured to be – boozy all-night parties, formals overflowing with port, amorous encounters and Squashes initiating you to the silliest societies known to man (mentioning no names, Tiddlywinkers of Cambridge…) – if that’s what you want. But if you’d rather curl up with textbooks and tea, you can do that too. And the beauty of Freshers’ Week is that there’ll be someone else, just like you, who wants to do the same.

There’s something for everyone

Whether you’re looking to discover a Varsity captain, the lead singer of a band, or someone whose eyes also light up at the mention of Dawkins (or Dickens, if you don’t have Saturday lectures…), I give you my word that this week will let you find that person…that’s really why Freshers’ Week is so fabulous.