Cambridge A-Z, Part 3

Finish off the alphabet of wisdom with the final slice of our vital Freshers Guide.

Cambridge charlotte ivers Guide patrick brooks the tab

Miss the previous instalments? Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2.

R is for Rowing

Rowing is the king of sports. Or would be if it was a sport.

A lot of freshers give rowing a go because it seems like the done thing, but quickly drop out after it becomes apparent that getting up at 5am to inflict back-breaking physical pain on your body is exactly as fun as it sounds.

But those who stick it out really seem to love it, yet another example of Cambridge students’ masochistic tendencies.

The camaraderie and social side supposedly make the agonies worth it, if by social side you mean comparing 2k times and watching ‘lads’ who only drink twice a year throw up on each other’s lycra. 

Lots of people like watching Bumps, which involve boats competing and stuff

S is for Sainsbury’s

Basically the only supermarket in town, unless your budget stretches to Waitrose or M&S (See also: Pitt Club, John’s, red chinos).

This has the advantage that you always run into loads of people that you know. However, it also has the disadvantage that you always run into loads of people that you know.

T is for Townies and Tourists

Townies are the 100,000 other folk who also inhabit Cambridge and try to live their normal lives despite our ridiculous antics, e.g. spraying cava and flour and yogurt and egg yolks all over each other in the streets post exams.

Indecent public spraying

The worst thing about living in Cambridge is that half of Japan wants to join you in enjoying its quaint delights, and in the narrow, cobbled streets the fuckloads of tourists become a genuine nuisance. Saturdays in the summer are a heaving, camera-jiggling hell.

U is for the Union

The Union is not the same as the Student Union, even though it’s for students.

One of them is completely free and hosts lots of debates and celebrity speakers in a cool historic debating chamber, the other is intrepidly pathetic, never taken seriously and costs close to £200 to join.

See? It’s impossible to get them mixed up.

V is for Varsity and the Van of Life

Varsity is the term for an annual sporting match played against Oxford. People tend to get quite excited about this type of thing, and to be fair it is quite fun.

Unconfirmed reports also suggest that Varsity is the name of our rival student paper. More as this develops live.

It glows with life (and grease)

The Van of Life. As it says in the gospel: “For God so loved the world, that he sent late night drunk eating, so that all who believed in it need not perish, but have the Van of Life.”

Or something like that. The alternative to Gardies, and not in any way connected with Life the club. People just like calling commercial entities Life for some reason in Cambridge. There’s also a Van of Death.

W is for Work

Work is big here. You’ll be taught by the finest minds the world can offer, but you’ll also be expected to put a lot of effort in yourself, far more than you’ve ever had to do in you life so far.

Most colleges have libraries that are open 24/7 because they often become where most students live. In Exam term that is not an exaggeration.

However, you should also keep some perspective; your first year exams are not the coming of the apocalypse, and pretty much everyone gets a 2:i, especially the people telling everyone they’ve done no work and are totally guaranteed to fail.

As much as there’s a culture of complaining about the mountains of work, and how life isn’t worth living, everyone also kinda secretly deep inside loves studying really – if you don’t ever get an almost sexual thrill from books you’re probably not going to fit in.

This is symbolised by the University Library, the central tower of which looks like a giant jutting concrete penis. Learn to embrace this, and the millions of tomes that throb within.

Mmmn, phallic

X is for Exes

Your sixth form boyfriend is at Sheffield, but you love each other so much and will visit each other all the time and make it work? Er yeah. You’ve got two weeks. If that.

After that inevitable tearful Skype call, you will be thrown into the shark pit of Cambridge dating, a pit from which, thanks to Cambridge’s impressive ability to crush any semblance of love, you will emerge with a variety of exes. By exes, we mean anything from two-year first loves to the weird guy you got with in freshers’ who made your lips bleed (Hi mate, hope all’s well).

In the tiny world of Cambridge, this is nothing short of catastrophic. You will see them everywhere. They will have got with half of your friends. You will have got with half of their friends. Half their friends will have got with half your friends. Whatever. You get the picture.

Mixing work and pleasure in the UL

Y is for Youth

What you have, and we increasingly don’t. Which is fine. Really. Fine.

Z is for Zebra

Alright guys, we fucked up. We’re sorry, we just couldn’t think of anything vaguely related to Cambridge beginning with Z.

You know what though, it doesn’t matter. Who cares? We’re undergrads, we can make mistakes, we’re here to learn, and so are you.

Yes, you’re going to make horrible life choices involving mouths and alcohol and deadlines and priorities and genitals, but you’re still going to fucking love it here, we promise you.