A Northerner’s Guide to Cambridge
A belta guide for you and your marras
Coming to Cambridge can be a daunting task for anyone, but arguably more so if you’ve spent your entire childhood in the wilderness that is Northern England. When you’ve travelled longer than most international students to get here, it only makes sense that we have our own guide.
Hitting the toon
One of the biggest generalisations (read: facts) about Northerners is that we like to drink. A lot. Basically the higher up the country you’re from, the higher your tolerance. There’s a reason why Newcastle was voted Britain’s best night out, but then again it’s also home to Geordie Shore. You win some, you lose some.
During Freshers Week when no one knows each other, Northerners will be silently judging you by how well you can handle your drink – we don’t want to have to put you to bed before even making it into Cindies.
Another important part of Northern clubbing culture is the whole idea of what to wear. In Cambridge we like to think we’re sensible enough to wear a coat when it’s cold or, if you’re from Girton, a sensible pair of walking shoes. Any normal person would be petrified of walking down Cambridge’s cobbled streets drunk and in stilettos, but Northerners see it as a chance to defend their identity.
But sometimes stumbling from the club to the Van of Life just isn’t worth the trouble. Cheesy chips may do it for some, but it doesn’t even come close to being as good as a pile of chips and gravy from your local takeaway back home. Even Quebecers have jumped on the bandwagon with their famous ‘poutine’. Vive la North!
Watch ya gob
It’s only when you arrive in Cambridge that you realise you actually do have an accent. After years of being called a Southerner at school, it comes as a shock when you come to Cambridge and repeatedly get asked if you’re related to Peter Kay. One can only dream.
When you say you’re from the North, people will immediately think you’re from Yorkshire and give you a sample of their best ‘accent’. So many Cambridge students think of the ‘North’ as just one place, especially since so many claim Cambridge to be the farthest north they’ve ever been…
It’s only actually in Cambridge that ‘Northerners’ become a unified community. At the end of term the old rivalries of Geordie vs Mackem and Scouse vs Manc return stronger than ever. We all go back to arguing over whether it’s called a bap, barm or a bun – at least in Cambridge you know it’s just a bread roll.
Calm doon and mek a cuppa
Sometimes being a Northerner in Cambridge can be really difficult. We may have left behind our lives of mining pics and outdoor toilets, but sometimes you just start to miss the little things, like being able to smile at a stranger in the street without them thinking you’re a complete plonker. We’re just trying to make the cockles of your heart a little warmer.
Even something as simple as making a proper brew becomes a chore in Cambridge. It really goes against the idea of relaxing when you constantly have to remove a layer of calcium from the top of your freshly-made cup of tea. Even if you don’t come home feeling any smarter, at least you’ll be able to show off your stronger bones… Yay us.
It really does sting when every letter you received prior to arriving talks about you coming ‘up’ to Cambridge instead of ‘down’, even though there’s like 80% of the country which still does exist beyond the Cambridge bubble. And they talk about Southern privilege…
Although despite all that, you do get a sense of pride when you see that Yorkshire Tea and Greggs have both made it across the Watford Gap. Conquering the South one pasty at a time.
Closing the gap
Whether you consider yourself Northern or Southern, be proud. At least we’re prepared to face up to our responsibilities instead of hiding in the Midlands. When you’re at a university full of strangers, what else do you have?
Sure it may be fun to expose the differences between North and South, but when you’re all in the same sinking ship it really doesn’t matter whether you’re off the coast of Torquay or Whitby.
Right, time for a brew.