Just some of the things you’ll love at Cambridge
Some of Cambridge is A Bit Bad, but most of it is Actually Quite Nice
Complaining is a staple of the student’s diet, but every once in a while we should all remember the lovely, wholesome places and people that populate this city. Thousands of fresh-faced, innocent and naïve freshers are about to flood in – we should try to celebrate the best bits of Cambridge.
The Backs are the most overused image of Cambridge ever. As tiring as this shot becomes when featured in the plethora of articles about the University (!!META!!), there is no denying its grandeur. Weaving across the bridges which crisscross the Cam takes you through some of the oldest and arguably most stunning colleges. This is made possible by your new superpower, the Cam Card. Sullen porters admit defeat when faced with the ultimate top trump – this magic piece of plastic – powerless to prevent your entry.
If land-based life has lost appeal or you want to feature in countless tourists' photographs, take a punt down the Cam. Just don’t drop the pole, it’s very cold in the river, although you'll probably already have freshers' flu, so you'll have little left to lose. Cambridge is more than just a river, though, and it would be wrong to suggest the river colleges are the only ones worth visiting. Emma’s chapel still awes me 3 years on, and Girton is actually worth the trek.
Being busy becomes a competition during term, but the top prize seriously isn’t worth all the stress. Take a break, gather some friends and a camera, maybe a coat as well for Michaelmas term. De-stressing and switching off doesn’t need to be full of guilt; it’s important for everyone. If you still want to be productive, use it to search for that all important new profile pic to rack up the likes.
Freshers' Week can be just a little terrifying. New city, new room, new friends. Conversations will be dominated by the mundane and the simple but as the weeks pass, the inhibitions follow – tea and beer help, here. Eventually that strange collection of oddballs and outcasts stop guarding themselves and start sharing. Some people love home, some people hate it, but your friendship circles can become something more, harder to define.
Laughter cures many ills, and advice is often useful (if not always welcome). Cambridge can often feel like an immense struggle. A shared burden is a lighter burden, even if some colleges attempt to breed ultra-competitiveness to maintain their positions in the Tompkins Table. Support extends beyond work: the joy at spotting a friend in a club, the mass hug fest which follow the end of every holiday. You'll find yourself driving across the country to far flung regions of the country to see them in their natural habitats, during the vacations, even if most people seem to come from North London. Groups change as people change and not every relationship will last – it's all part of growing up, and it's all valuable.
A city that is crammed with students and the university never fails to feel alive. You might want to contribute to this culture, by throwing yourself into the extra-curricular scene, or just relax and take it all in. Events put on by countless societies form a veritable feast for all the senses and food for thought. Their physical presence is underscored by a deeper commitment that fuels these projects. Students are willing to sacrifice much of their time and lives to pursue, at times, thankless tasks. This is truly unique, and makes for a fantastic range of student activities.
However, a word of caution for the uninitiated – we all need to unplug at times and it is impossible to do everything at once. Tread carefully and choose wisely, this is your experience and nobody else will have the memories you make.
A degree can drag on, it tests you outside the exam hall and fundamentally changes you. At times, it all seems hopeless but there is much more to Cambridge than the library or the lab. In the heady days of new beginnings, the wonder comes easily, before fading as this becomes the new normal. Rekindling your love for the aspects of the city which are phenomenal helps when the ‘Cambridge experience’ becomes too much.