Grad Life Sucks

Enjoy the bubble while you can. Because when that shit bursts, your life is resigned to decades of tragic (corporate) meaningless

Bubble Cambridge cambridge bubble grad life graduation money skint

October has arrived. Eager first years already have flu on account of eating each other’s faces at Pub Golf during fresher’s weekend, textbooks are being dusted off and used as doorstops, and everyone’s moaning about being back in Cambridge, and having to ‘do some work’. Except me.

Because unlike those bright-eyed, knowledge-thirsty, would-be academics, I’ve graduated and am now actually doing a REAL JOB, and by Christ it’s awful.

Here are just five examples of why you should all stop moaning that another term has started and instead cling on to those last nine months of freedom before you enter ‘the real world’. Unless you’re becoming an academic or doing an MA, in which case screw you.

The Damned


Isn’t it brilliant! Picture it; you’re finally earning. A smart letter appears in the post, stamped by HMRC or your employer, and inside is your first big-boy pay check. You open it, fingers shaking, to view in full glory this milestone in your life. BUT WAIT. That’s not what you were promised. That’s a lot less than you were promised. All your beautiful budgeting, all your careful sums – out the window. WHERE HAS ALL THE MONEY GONE?

That, my friend, is tax. And income tax, which is apparently a different thing and whacks another chunk off. And also council tax. So much tax. So much sadness.

Remember when the government just gave you 9 grand because you asked for it? Now not only have they slammed that particular door in your face, but the realisation suddenly dawns – you have to pay THAT back too. Unless, like me, the woeful salary you start on doesn’t hit the expected £22k expected salary of a grad. All the burn.

I wants it


Wasn’t it annoying when x kept you up banging her boyfriend next door and y had a crazy party above you and oh my god can’t z stop popping in for coffee when you’re just trying to get work done. Well you know what’s more annoying? BEING ALONE. Expectations of all bunking down together in a great flat in central London quickly dissipated when my friends realised they would then actually have to pay rent. So now everyone lives back at home with their parents, has a curfew, and can’t afford to socialise (BECAUSE OF TAX: SEE ABOVE), so you either shiver in a park somewhere passing a cheap bottle of Merlot around because no-one has the money to go to an actual pub for a London pint, or watch old seasons of Downton Abbey alone with your cat.


One of the best things about Cambridge: the 3pm nap.  After a tough day of lecture, coffee, lunch, then the arduous trek from college to the UL to return a book I never actually read, I needed that forty-minute shuteye. Now that I actually do things with my day, I’m not allowed a nap at all.  Life is so cruel.

Please let me nap!


Wow, weren’t those eight weeks of term tough. Look what we packed in to them. I wrote at least one essay every fortnight, read three chapters of the Cambridge Companion to Lyric and was in a play. I was EXHAUSTED, I tell you. It took me a month to get over it at Christmas, two at Easter, and three in the summer. Half my year was spent resting and recovering from the arduous stretch of two months of LEARNING.

Yeah, so now I actually have to do stuff every day for the whole entire year with twenty-five precious, fragile days off that I nestle close to my bosom. That’s less than a month. LESS THAN A MONTH. Even how many days you’re sick for is counted for you. Stop moaning for a reading week. Soon you’ll never have time to read a book EVER AGAIN.


Yes, Cambridge was tough. It has its ups and downs, its difficulties and stresses, moments of despair when you really can’t get humanism and you cant work out a bloody thing that Derrida is saying.

Me neither, Mick. Me neither.

But at least you’re using your mind. You’re BEING CONSTANTLY FULFILLED. You know what I did today? I booked a train for my boss, reserved four meeting rooms, answered three letters of complaint and counted how many stairs there were in the building because I was so bored. And I work in the CREATIVE INDUSTRY.

So, ye in the bubble, stop moaning. Because when that shit bursts, so do your dreams, feelings of joy, fulfilment, and hope. Good luck in the year ahead. Because once it’s gone, it’s gone…