Post-Week 5: How to survive the rest of term

Here’s how to look like you have your shit together

Cambridge parents peers procrastination Students supervisors

The “Week 5 blues” are a mystery to me.

What do you mean only Week 5? So on other weeks you just feel happy? You signed up for Cambridge. You already know that you can’t get everything you want. Something’s always got to give, be it sleep, a social life or your work. For most, it’s sleep.

Even if you can’t be completely happy all the time here, you are still an extremely worn out and depressed person benefiting from a world-class education! Therefore, the main point of surviving at Cambridge is not being happy but instead portraying an image of success at all times and making other people feel miserable. Here’s how!


They neither pay your tuition fees nor give you your grades. And yet despite this (or maybe because of this) they are easily the most important people in your Cambridge life.

Whenever you make a rare trip to the library (i.e. getting lost in the library trying to find the toilets), make sure everyone knows that you are there, absolutely EVERYONE.

I was particularly intrigued by the Feminist Companion to Literature in English.

I like sitting at the large table in the middle of the floor that most people are on and occupying at least half of it with my stuff. That way, once everyone enters, they’re guaranteed to see you. Also, if people get mildly annoyed at you for your spatial aggression, at least they notice your existence in the library. Remember, you are not here to make friends, you are here to win.

Have you noticed that once you walk past someone in the library, they tend to look up and stare at you? Never internalise that look. Never feel guilty about distracting someone from their work. Think of it as their procrastination mechanism. You’re doing them a favour.

The way the Fitz library is structured is amazing for this purpose. Desks are arranged along the stairs, so that as you walk along people will look up and look you in the eyes, one by one. This is exactly when I make sure I look like I know what I am doing and not looking lost trying to find the toilets as I usually am.

Walk of glory or shame? (credit: @FitzwilliamColl)

Another way to impose your dominance is via Snapchat. You added all of your fresher “friends” in Week 1, now it’s time to bombard and distract them.

Make sure they know that you are having a soulful moment and are completely content with being stuck in the library and drowning in books. Good additions to the snap could be a cup of pumpkin spice latte next to the laptop and beautifully done manicures that actually prevent you from properly typing.

I swear the BuzzFeed page is just my screen saver.

Occasionally, you have to leave the library and go to lectures. When I think of lectures, I think of the scene in Mean Girls where people turn into savage animals – everyone is trying to outsmart everyone, and you just can’t afford to be No. 2. Therefore, make sure to close the SparkNotes tab on your laptop because you need to present yourself as a Cambridge student who did not bullshit their way in and actually deserves to be here.

Type heavily on your keyboard at all times for other than impressing (annoying) the people around you, this tactic can also distract the people in your course from the truly important parts of the lecture. I mean, it’s not that you would know what they are anyway.


On the rare occasions that you Skype or call them, make sure to steer the direction of the conversation away from academics as far as possible. For example, the conversation between me and my parents today went like this:

Dad: “How are you keeping up with academics? Are things hard?”

Me: “I’m getting on okay. It’s hard but I’m handling it alright. What did you eat for dinner?”

Mum: “How many essays did you have this week? What did your supervisors say?”

Me: “Oh, two, which is the average anyway. Isn’t it funny how my supervisor’s name is Rob anyway, like our neighbour. How is our neighbour doing?”

Dad: “Will you have a mock exam next term?”

Me: “Mum and Dad, I’m pregnant!”

The bane of my existence

If you don’t see my next Tab article, that’s because my parents have withdrawn me from the university and have decided to homeschool me instead.

The more astute among you should have noticed two things by the end of the above conversation. Firstly, that my parents are Asian. Secondly, my sidetracking skills. They are crucial so that your parents will continue to be happy funding 9000 quid every year towards your alcoholism, thinking that they are paying for the lectures that you don’t actually go to. Or so they don’t know that you are secretly blowing your student loan and well into your overdraft by this point in term.


I guess just don’t even try to look like I know what I’m doing. There is bliss in having given up.

I solemnly swear that I am a nice person and that I like seeing other people succeed and be happy. I mean, just don’t do it in front of me.