Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda: Finalists’ Regrets

Four finalists reveal their bugbears about all the things they could have done with the golden years of their life.

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This handful of finalists expose their inmost regrets and yearnings in a selfless act of love for our freshers, so they may learn from the example of their elders.

 OJ Watson is a 3rd year NatSci

As Patrick Brooks so excellently described the other day, Cambridge is beautiful for the chance to do literally anything that may take your fancy. Sadly I found myself prioritising, in my earlier years, going out over making the most of the opportunities there. I really wish I had tried my hand at radio, and had gone to that first term CamFM meeting. I think there’s something amazing about getting the chance to introduce new music to people, and I can’t see myself ever having such an easy chance to try my hand at radio again in my life. In the same vein I wish I’d gone to more concerts within Cambridge. There are so many talented musicians within Cambridge, and I wish I had made the effort to go see any of the wonderful concerts put on by CUCO or CUJO. Lastly, everyone wants to feel what they do at Cambridge is terribly important and consequently leave their mark on Cambridge before leaving. So my last regret is that I never pushed for my ARU vs CAM club night idea. It would have been brilliant – Lola Lo were so onboard for a club night where they kept tabs on how many drinks were bought by each university, and each week declaring a winning university that received perks the following week. Unfortunately a nameless member from Cambridge University applied some pressure against the idea, and it got dropped. Sad times.

Pippa Calvin is a 4th year MMLer

A common theme recently among my lecturers and supervisors has been how boring and politically-inactive university life has become. On three separate occasions in the past week, I have heard how university is no longer about change or transgression; we’re all playing it too safe, going to(more or less) all our lectures, and generally towing the line, lest we get excluded from our future in the corporate world. Essentially, we’re all waiting complacently for graduation to come around.

Whilst the idea of selling out to the corporate world might not be true to everyone, these remarks got  me thinking. I’ve played it a bit safe during my time at Cambridge: I’ve never been on a protest for anything, never flirted outrageously with a supervisor, and certainly never been anywhere close to a bit of “extra-curricular” activity in the UL stacks.

I wanted to be caught sighing deeply on here.

So there you have it: my main regret is that I’ve been really dull. My advice? Transgress. Just a little. I’m not advocating any serious law-breaking or getting yourself kicked out of the university (‘cos that would make all the effort until now a bit pointless); but step outside of bounds every once in a while. Next time there’s a strike? Don’t just skip class (as if you needed an excuse anyway);  but actually go along and picket. Get involved in something you actually care about. Skip your next lecture to stay in bed with your badly-chosen one night stand! And yes, find a nice spot in the UL for a bit of study-break nookie. Just don’t blame me if you get caught.

As naughty as things ever got.

Ben Dalton is a 4th year MMLer

This is an easy one. My biggest regret in Cambridge is not something I hide from myself, but something I am fully aware of every time I look into the mirror or awaken sodden with the morning-sweat of unfulfillment. I shoulda, woulda, coulda joined the Ramblers Society. I shoulda worn socks up to my knees and bought a Berghaus walking pole. I shoulda spent my Saturdays eating Kendal Mint Cake out of tin foil in the Brecons. I shoulda had garter-snapping thighs as strong as Gaston’s neck. I shoulda been ruddy in the face like Ben Fogle.

That the dusty planes below my eyes resemble that of a yellowed Artemis Fowl rather than said ruddy Fogle is no-one’s fault but my own. I whiled away the years overindulging in Big Tom and mercilessly abusing Youtube Repeat when all the time I should have been hillside in a sturdy fleece. I like to believe I would have looked like Bears Grylls running around a fire naked, yet with an infinitely more generous censorship smudge below the navel. My profile picture would have exhibited a lusty gentleman of proud wind-lash and pac-a-mac. The sort your Grandmother picks out as a “healthy young suitor” in the same way a farmer smiles to his prize bullock.

Apparently the view from Castle Mound. I wouldn’t know.

James Mitchell is a 3rd year Historian

Immediate regrets that spring to mind are spending £200+ on book fines; having a girlfriend in first year; being alone in second and third year; locking my bike outside the Maypole and leaving it overnight; paying £120 for a lifetime Union membership; never going to the Union having spent £120 on a lifetime membership; giving Skyfall a 2* review (it makes a better second viewing); stripping off in the Homerton car park because I thought it was romantic and something Hugh Grant might do; and leaving with an overdraft of -£4300 and a loan debt of over £21,000. All of these things, however, are negligible. I shall leave for the most part with anxieties about the future rather than regrets rooted in the past. Having spent the last seven years in higher education for example – and the previous eleven at boarding school – I have no idea how I’ll adjust to lodgings larger than the 5m x 4m I have become accustomed to. Nor I am prepared to quite give up on the dreams that are allowed to go unquestioned and unfulfilled while you’re still at University. But short of doing something truly terrible or never having had fun, to depart Cambridge burdened with regret is to misunderstand the true purpose of Undergraduate life. Indeed, it’s the mistakes and missed opportunities we accomplish here that make it such an important learning experience. Oh and #YOLO.

There is still time fretful finalists. Don’t give up hope yet.