A beginner’s guide to impressing your home friends
Or how to trick them into thinking Cambridge life is normal
Congratulations guys, you’ve made it halfway through the term.
You’ve survived essays, romance, booze and sleep deprivation. And, you may even have convinced yourself that you’re leading a normal, happy life at university. Now here comes the tricky bit, convincing your friends from home, the people that know you best, that you’re leading a normal and happy life at university.
If your friends are anything like mine, they think that Cambridge is pretty and all, but they are slightly unconvinced that the amount of work, stress and self-esteem crises the place causes is worth it and they’re concerned that you’re missing out on a normal, wild and free university experience.
It’s like if Harry Potter had some friends from home who acknowledged that while Hogwarts was pretty cool and magic, but were understandably concerned about all the death, monsters and casual child abuse going on over there.
Today, freshers, I will guide you through the process of putting their worries to rest. All you have to do is invite them up to visit and follow these simple steps:
DO take them to formal
Nothing shows off the best of Cambridge quite like a formal hall. You are probably in one of the nicer rooms that your college has to offer. There is fancy food, everyone is all dressed up in weird robes and there is plenty of booze to go around. Your friends will be so distracted by how bizarre and archaic this ritual is, they will forget to worry about you and just get caught up in the glorious pretentiousness of it all.
If you have the planning skills, do one better and lure them to a May Ball. After going to one of those they will never worry that you’re not having a sufficiently wild university experience again and will definitely want a ticket for next year.
DON’T take them clubbing
Guys, clubbing in Cambridge is shit. Completely and utterly shit. I know we’ve all kind of made a weird unspoken pact to pretend that we like going to Life and having the ceiling drip on us but I just can’t keep up the charade anymore. I am embarrassed every time I bring a friend to Cindies and the bloody Lion King comes on and they are embarrassed for me.
So when your friends come to visit, skip the clubbing. Nothing makes it clearer that this city has given us all Stockholm Syndrome than the fact that we willingly queue up to get into these places week after week.
DO put the work on hold while they’re visiting
I shouldn’t even have to say this but because I’ve seen people sneak off to the library and leave home friends to aimlessly wander the grounds of their college, I’m going to make this crystal clear: Put the bloody book down and talk to the nice people who have travelled to see you. It is literally the least you can do.
Rudeness aside, nothing convinces your friends that Cambridge rules your life like an exacting and malevolent dictator faster than the sentence ‘I’d love to be having fun with you, but I just need to pop to the library for a couple of hours…can you amuse yourself?’. If you don’t want to be the focus of concerned looks and well-meaning interventions, try to pretend that you’re not a slave to your DOS for at least a couple days.
DON’T take them punting
This one is going to be controversial but punting is overrated. One of you risks life, limb and dignity by using a big stick to drag a boat through a river while the other sits awkwardly watching. Or worse, you pay a silly amount of money for a professional stick dragger to punt you around while he tells you lies about the central colleges.
I have a better idea. Sit by the side of the Cam watching other people punt and wait for someone to fall in. Give it an hour. It always happens and it is always hilarious.
DO hook them up with your uni mates
Again this may be controversial but I fully stand by being the best wing-person that you can be to both your friends from home and your friends from uni.
Best case scenario you get to make a touching and well-received speech at their wedding about how you introduced the happy couple to each other over the course of one wild weekend in Cambridge and be godparent to their adorable child. Worst case scenario you get to bring up the time they hooked up with a rando you went to uni with behind the Van of Life in a less well-received speech at their wedding to someone else.
In short, when your friends come to visit, show them the best of Cambridge, not the nerdy pit of despair that we all have grown accustomed to. By extension, be the you that your friends know from home, not a work-obsessed shadow of your former self.
If you’ve suddenly turned into an anxiety-ridden wreck who can’t be out of the library for more than an hour, of course your friends are going to worry that you’re wasting the best years of your life. So just let yourself relax and show them all the cool bits that make Cambridge special.
And take them to Fudge Kitchen. No one can resist Fudge Kitchen.