Things to do alone in Exam Term

When your friends are too busy revising to be fun

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Prelimers are sold a dreamy fantasy of Easter Term.

But, if you’ve just done your exams, you’ll probably be in the process of realising that the rest of this term is actually going to be a little bit grim. Unless you socialise exclusively with people doing English and History, you’ll essentially be finding that you now have no friends, apart from your supervision partner.

Your carefree, fun-loving friends from Michaelmas and Lent have come back from the vacation as Very Boring People. They care about their exams. The want to do well. They spend all day in the library and can’t even be tempted by a quick snack break in your enchanting company. The fact that you would probably be doing the same if your exams were not glorified mocks is irrelevant. (@my friends reading this, give me the attention I need and crave pls).

So it’s time to give up the delusion that this term is going to be even mildly social until May Week. You just have to embrace the solitude, reluctant as you may be to do so. Here are a few suggestions to help.

Fitzwilliam Museum

The Fitz really is wonderful. The main exhibitions are free and they even have lunchtime concerts.

The ceiling is also an absolute 10/10. This part of the Founder’s Building is currently closed for refurbishment, but will be open again in early June.

Cambridge Arts Picturehouse

The Picturehouse is an independent cinema with a coffee shop/bar area attached. The entrance is rather disconcertingly placed next to Spoons, but don’t let this put you off. They show much more varied content than your standard Vue or Odeon. There are rarely many students there, so it feels like a real escape from the Bubble.

This is also the perfect way of becoming more #cultured and #learnéd without actually having to make much effort. Just plonk yourself down in front of an indie or foreign film – if all goes well, you might enjoy it, but even if not you’ll feel so virtuous and up your own arse that it’ll be worth the visit anyway.

Cycle for the sake of leisure

I really miss driving my car at home. In Cambridge the only thing that comes close is reaching the dizzying velocity of 10 mph on the rickety bicycle I bought from a dodgy stall in Market Square way back in Michaelmas.

Still, there’s something Really And Genuinely Nice about just cycling around Cambridge without being in any particular rush to get to a lecture or some other contact hour, for which you would invariably be 10 minutes late. Pedestrians might even seem (marginally) less annoying when they meander off the clearly pedestrianised areas, straight out into the road to get a snap of the Mathematical Bridge.

Look at this cool guy having all the fun

Don’t carry a rucksack or anything in your basket. This is the opportune moment to relive your Sixth Form fantasy, as inspired by the opening scene of The Theory of Everything, before the whole muscular sclerosis thing was thrown into the mix.

Read some fiction

Whoever is composing my weekly reading lists seems to be making a concerted effort to choose the driest texts that have ever been in print. An example from this week: Porcelain for the poor: the material culture of tea and coffee consumption in eighteenth-century Amsterdam. Gripping.

But, still, you can use your £9k library card to get access to some fiction that you might actually enjoy. You can obviously get borrowing rights from the University Library and the English Faculty Library, but it’s also worth considering the public Cambridge Central Library.

There are so many great coffee shops in Cambridge to read, too: Aromi, the upstairs of Benets (which looks out onto Kings Chapel), Waterstones Cafe etc.

The Botanic Gardens

Nature and all that. Nice. Not much else to say, really.


Sex shopping

(Somewhat less wholesome.)

Last term, the female contingent of The Tab team did everyone a favour and sussed out the sex shopping scene in Cambridge. You’re welcome.

If you head up the Chesterton Road, you’ll find the enigmatically named ‘The Private Shop’, fully equipped with all the accessories every Cantab needs for a term of ‘flying solo’, if you get the gist.


Flower stalls in Market Square

Congratulations, this marks the first step in the unavoidable path of turning into your mother.

Market Square has an affordable flower stall which is open regularly in the week. Fresh flowers totally change the mood in your room and aren’t actually that easy to kill. Furthermore, the idea that you are responsible for caring for something can give you a remarkable sense of purpose, which is refreshing after days on end of just watching Netflix from your bed and occasionally emerging for snacks.

Will probably give you hayfever but still fit

Just leave

Essentially, this is the only appropriate response to Easter Term. Sure, it’s not even Week 5 yet, but there are only so many attractions Cambridge can offer, with this all boiling down to the fact that this is a ‘city’ basically consisting of one street. Do yourself a favour and buy a ticket to Liverpool Street – you can get one for just £3.95 at specific times with a 16-25 railcard.

Write for The Tab

We’re obviously always gagging for new writers so why not bring your solitude-induced anguish to the field of #jurnalizm?

Send us a pitch – you’ve got nothing better to do apart from those pesky weekly essays.