We asked freshers what they thought Cambridge would be like

I’ll no doubt pronounce ‘tapenade’ wrong and no one will talk to me

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Fresher’s week will see around 3000 eager new Cantabs descend upon our small university town for a week of Jägerbombs, society squashes and, well, the drunken mistakes which arise from the combination of the two. 

Aside from the usual, all-encompassing fears of never-ending reading lists and the exam-death-abyss, they’ve also found time to ponder early morning rowing sessions on the River Cam, the cheesy tunes of Cindies and the strangeness of formal hall.

We caught up with ten of this year’s cohort of excitable freshers to hear all their initial thoughts and grievances of their impending first week in the bubble:

Ethan, MML, Christs

“I’m actually really looking forward to it! I’m obviously a little worried about the workload, but I’ll be studying something I love and all in an amazing city.

I might even write an article or two for The Tab. It’s my chance to be famous.”


Alfie, Law , Caius

“Undoubtedly there’ll be a lot of work and time spent on studying so I’m expecting my time management will be needing to be tuned.

Having said that, I’m looking forward to meeting people from all over the world and pursuing athletics and football in my downtime, and also (obviously) giving rowing a try!”


Alexandra, English, Sidney

“While it’s lovely to day dream that on reading my first essay, my supervisor will see the work of a true genius, realistically I know that he will tear it and my delicate pride apart, handing them back to me in the nonsensical fragments from which they were constructed. I am trying to prepare myself for that moment.

I don’t have high hopes for the clubbing scene, but then again even sweaty basements filled with cringingly cheesy tunes and a rank mist of sweat can be fun when you’re with the right people.”


David, Medicine, Churchill 

“I’m slightly scared of the formal dinners, with everyone in smart suits and dresses talking about foreign policy and Chaucer and then I’ll no doubt pronounce ‘tapenade’ wrong and no one will talk to me, but that’s probably just a stereotype and Facebook chat groups for freshers are thankfully more focused on Bake Off than 14th century literature.

Mostly though, I’m confused about whether punting along the Cam is seen as a hobby for snobs and people in t-shirts reading ‘My Degree is in Chillaxing’ or if it’s just something everyone has learned to think is normal, because to me it just looks weird.”


Ania, English, Girton

“I am wholly aware that my diet will slowly begin to revolve around predominantly carbohydrates. I just hope that no one will be too alarmed by my choice of pencil case. It’s a shark. Amazon labelled it as a ‘Boys’ pencil case. I’m constantly fighting the system.”


Izzy, French and German, Caius

“Since I’m not even halfway through the preparatory reading list, I’m not optimistic that that side of my degree will be a walk in the park.”


Hannah, Music, Christ’s

“After much preparation for the move, mainly consisting of weighing up what I can live without as I don’t fancy blowing my whole student budget before I even start, it has reached the point where I just want to get there!”.


Holly, History, Pembroke

“I applied to Cambridge under the illusion that I would have the chance to float around like Sebastian Flyte. However, it turns out that Brideshead Revisited is actually set in Oxford, and Sebastian ends up as an alcoholic in a Tunisian monastery. 

So thanks, Evelyn Waugh, for ruining my life. I have adjusted my mindset accordingly and now am, instead, very much looking forward to regular brunch and the prospect of wearing trainers clubbing. My poor toes rejoice.


We wish all of you freshers out there the best of luck on your first week in the bubble.

Amidst the drunken mistakes at your fresher bop, and the never-ending joy that is navigating through the sticky basement of a packed Sunday Night Life, try and make it to a few lectures along the way.

You can follow the antics of Holly, David, and Ania in each of their columns as they navigate through their first term.