What to do to before you come to Cambridge

How to prepare now you’re expecting

Cambridge cambridge colleges cambridge tab Freshers Freshers Week

The months of torment are finally over: now comes the fear.

6 weeks stand between you and Freshers’ week. We at The Tab would like to give you some serious advice on what to do before you come.

Prepare some small talk

Practise the following four questions and learn their answers by rote:

“What’s your name?”

“What college do you go to?”

“What course are you doing?”

“Where do you come from?”

These will become your safety net against the most feared part of any fresher conversation: silence. These must be slick, well rehearsed, and at your fingertips to avoid anyone thinking you are “boring”.

When these have been exhausted and the last remnants of talk have died, move on quickly to a new group where they won’t notice your lack of social skills.

Why not try here? They look very welcoming

Become unnecessarily good at something

Used up your four questions? Can’t think of anything else to say to the Engineer at Queens who lives in Bangor? Need the ultimate icebreaker to mask your insecurity?

Become a world champion origami fighter or tree surgeon. Can you do magic tricks? Great. Have a trophy? Even better. Tell people about it constantly. No one will hate you, trust me.

They’re just jealous

Reinvent yourself

Go to an indie band, buy a T-shirt, wear it with the sleeves rolled up and tell everyone how amazing it was. Pretend to like Grime. Go to an art gallery, find the edgiest piece there, take a photo and get it tattooed across your back. All sure fire conversation starters – you’ll be the talk of your college.

Introduce yourself on the freshers’ page

This is a great way to make sure everyone in Cambridge knows who you are, especially because absolutely everybody reads the essay-length posts you write on there.

Tidy up your facebook

Be prepared to have your entire digital life scrutinised and pulled from the past. That phase when you liked N-Dubz, gone. Your first profile picture at 13, erased. Those embarrassing year nines you accepted to boost the number of friends you had, thrown into the abyss. You have been warned.

Sexy devil

Learn to tie a bow tie

Beauty comes at a price. While we’re on the subject, take time to learn the difference between casual, smart, black and white tie. It may save your life.

Such a useful skill

Learn to like coffee (and tea)

Caffeine is the friend you need but wish you didn’t. Dreary lectures are almost as hard as hungover ones, but for the saving grace of 30 minutes hyperactive concentration. Add in all-nighters and never ending naps and the unassuming brown liquid is simply a must.

Its less hardcore cousin works as an icebreaker and comforter. Prepare for gallons to flow while you try to make friends: having a sip can buy you those vital few seconds to think of another thing to say before everyone moves on.

Get organised

Tiredness and freshers flu will strike you down before long and the never-ending game of catching up will begin.

You will lose, you can make it easier on yourself by buying stationary, folders, kitchenware and lots of paper: when you’re late to your third successive supervision and looking for your essay and lecture notes while attempting to blow your nose and not accidentally swallow a cough syrup, you will be forever grateful for your colour coded folder.

Not sure your DOS will buy it though


Freshers week will try to kill you, as will the midterm slump, and the cold, and the wet, and your supervisors, and your lectures. All your home friends will leave because they go to a normal uni doesn’t try to cram everything into 8 week.

Kill two birds with one stone and just sleep for the next 6 weeks. You’ll probably be able to survive it all,and won’t become so bored and lonely that getting into Cambridge will still seem like the dream it promises to be.

Long story short, there’s plenty to do before you come so you’re ready to be the interesting, friendly and cool person you promised to be instead of the person you really are.