A Cambridge-shaped hole in my heart?
Reflections of a Fresher’s Michaelmas
Term time Cambridge might be a schizophrenic oscillation between self-hatred and happy denial, but now that the bubble has burst and it’s back to the dull reality of being at home, here’s why Michaelmas, for this wide-eyed Fresher, felt like a lucid dream.
Whilst being at Cambridge feels like a car crash ride from one supervision to the next, this six-week long procrastination period actually makes me miss it. Facebook is deluged with the inevitable and slightly cringe Michaelmas/First Year/First Term photo albums filled with pictures everyone having a jolly good time. I guess there’s no point in having fun unless everybody else sees it, right?
No-one enters Cambridge and leaves completely unchanged. And like the coffee addiction I’ve developed, I’ve become bitter and unpalatable. It’s hard to be sympathetic when a friend from home has the audacity to mention they’ve written two essays in one entire fucking term knowing that you’ve spent many a library session in a caffeine fuelled delirium whilst they plod on at their cheery one word a day pace.
Coming from that backward, barren, cold, rainy wasteland otherwise known as ‘the North’ (specifically Manchester), being at Cambridge has created an unforeseen problem. After eight weeks of listening to nondescript tones of RP, coming back is like being hit with rap music when you expect classical. Seriously, I have a painful, daily dilemma when faced with pronouncing the words grass, bath, ask, past, last etc…
And in terms of music, Cambridge has been surprisingly educational in that aspect too. My musical naïveté has been shattered by the unrelenting Cindies music. I now know at least half the lyrics to Mr Brightside but also die a little inside each time I find myself humming along to last night’s playlist.
Speaking the Cambridge lingo is what every Fresher desperate to fit in quickly learns. Soon the jargon of DoS, Sidg, Plodge and pidge rolls off our tongue like any world-weary finalist. What I still question is the overuse of the word ‘lit’. It doesn’t make Cambridge sound like the cool, exciting, edgy place to be, rather more than one fantastical bonfire. Cue joke about how the highly pressured environment makes us all spontaneously combust.
But now having adapted to the Cambridge lifestyle, being at home is a startling wake up call. Sure the work is tough, but Cambridge isn’t the first step into independent adulthood that uni is supposed to be, much more of a cushioned gentle easing.
Unless you’re ridiculously rich and live a charmed existence, having a cleaner clean your room, food served to you in a medieval hall and Porters to address your every concern is a novel luxury. Of course I’ve complained endlessly about the cobbled streets, the doors that are too small and the freezing chapels. Every lecture-dash through King’s might be more of an angry crusade against tourists than a jaw-dropping marvel of its architecture, but there’s no doubt that next to Cambridge your home residence is one of a pitiful, suburban squalor.
Yes I overly complain about the Cambridge pace of life too. Cambridge seems to exist in a strange time warp where an hour in a lecture feels like eternity yet a day passes in a second. But like all nostalgic reflections through rose-tinted lenses, I now come to miss the vigour of life there where there are always things to do and people to see, and everything is just a short walk away (apologies if you’re from Girton or Homerton, you have my sincere, heartfelt sympathies).
So now I’m left hollow inside with nothing to do except count the days until Lent term or the books I still haven’t read. But it’s okay. In a world devoid of Cambridge, our saving consolation lies in Memebridge.