Go out and make some friends

In his first column, MILO EDWARDS wants you to stop being so shy

freshers week cambridge friends at cambridge making friends milo edwards

Cambridge Fresher’s Week: an event of such unbridled elitist debauchery as to give Daily Mail journalists a rage-precipitated aneurysm as they might suffer from by an outbreak of Princess Diana house price cancer.

But Freshers’ week is actually pretty cool. It’s a microcosm of the Cambridge experience: you meet lots of interesting people through a series of poorly conceived drunken events, all with the kind of temporal intensity that would give a hardened amphetamine user a stress-headache. So on that basis, although my fourth-year advice is probably about as welcome as a shit-covered leopard at a bar-mitzvah, my advice would be not to limit yourself.

This isn’t the ‘follow your dreams and join the canoeing club’ kind of don’t limit yourself, this is the ‘go and meet some people who don’t hold exactly the same prejudices that you do’ kind of don’t limit yourself.

The great thing about being at Cambridge is that you’re quite likely to have something in common with your fellow students, regardless of where either of you are from. So get out of your college, say hi to that guy wearing tweed in your lecture and have that deep conversation in the Life smoking area with the girl dressed as a bin for some reason, you could meet someone really interesting…

However, some people are going to try and tell you whom you should and shouldn’t be friends with. Ignore them. 

I ignored everyone

These are the people who say ‘Don’t worry, most people here didn’t go to private school.’ rather than ‘Don’t worry, nobody cares where you went to school and everyone here, like you, is a person’. It’s ridiculous to suggest that you should avoid meeting people because of how they sound or dress. It encourages everyone to stick around in cozy, homogenous groups. 

It’s a bit like the film Top Gun. Maverick and Goose have had minimal advantages and made it to Top Gun on ability and instinct; Ice Man represents privilege, he’s no better or worse a pilot than Maverick but his manner makes him look like he owns the place (now Kuda). Rivalry ensues, with both sides vying for supremacy in the air, the locker room and a curiously homoerotic volleyball match.

Ultimately, though, it turns out that their differences were imaginary; when they’re sent on a real mission Maverick and Ice Man look out for each-other and become solid friends, as we can see from the emotional final exchange:
ICE MAN: “You can be my wingman anytime.”
MAVERICK: “Bullshit, you can be mine.” 

Goose is actually dead by this point after a flying accident, but that’s tangential to this metaphor…unless your tripos involves using ejector seats, in which case exercise proper caution. Anyway, at this point there’s a lot of cheerful ‘80s guitar solo, so you forget about the whole ‘What’s going to happen to Goose’s wife and kids?’ thing and the ‘How did Tom Cruise just shoot down a load of Russian fighter planes without starting a massive war?’ thing. 

Future leaders

If those guys can be friends, then you can be friends with anyone, so don’t let the agendas of some people prejudice your judgement. Equally don’t shy away from the ADC people just because they all wear three quarter length sheep skins, smoke roll-ups and cry a lot, they’re people too. You’ve got a chance to form relationships with people who will support you for the rest of your life, people who’ll go on to do impressive things.

Then, when they’re famous, you can sell their secrets and photos of them in a penis outfit to the tabloids.