Stop hating on Freshers’ Week

Real-life Cambridge first-year gives a *gasp* POSITIVE review of Freshers’ week!

cambridge freshers week Club Fresher Freshers Week Matriculation party University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is renowned for many things – academic prowess, archaic traditions, aggressive cyclists – but a so-called "banging" Freshers’ week is not on this list. Many of us freshers have experienced ridicule from fellow first-years at other universities (Bristol and Birmingham – I'm looking at you) for getting set an essay before the last suitcase is even unpacked.

Yes, I am writing this article at 1 in the morning on my first day of lectures, fewer than 5 days after getting here, with a reading list lengthier than the Wednesday Cindies queue. The long-awaited "week" of raving is most definitely over. Yet here I am, telling you why being a Fresher at Cambridge is not really that bad, but actually a uniquely fun and welcoming experience.

My first night in the bubble was by no means raging (no kegs, no sesh, no 3 a.m. kebab), but I automatically felt like I was part of a community. I'd rather have a warm welcome from second years (the college family really is more than just a title) and the opportunity to actually talk to people and make friends than sweatily jumping about in a crowd of equally awkward and inebriated 18-year-olds any day.

True love

True love

Whatever may be said by hard-core party-goers, the clubbing in Cam is IDEAL (disclaimer: I have already been called a "delicate flower" by a course mate so this interpretation is a little biased). It’s as if the clock shifts back a couple of hours in order for everyone to get enough sleep – pres from 8, hit the club at 10, home and in bed by 2.30.

Despite it being only 11.30, I still ended up telling a girl I’d only met the day before that I loved her in the loos of Sunday Life. Perhaps the best part was how it was made very clear that getting smashed is entirely your own choice and fault – a Hannah Montana-esque best of both worlds.

Being the very serious journalist that I am, I have collected evidence from other freshers to prove just how great the week has been. Example 1: a 'boat race' pitting Bio-Natscis against Phys-Natscis in an alcoholic battle to the death (or to hospital – shoutout to A&E Alex). Example 2: free punting, relaxing and bonding with college family on the Cam, and a little bit of chaos as boats collided. Example 3: free tickets to the ADC theatre for a comedy night which was the ideal remedy for a day of reading.

The faces of sheer panic and disorientation in an otherwise idyllic setting

The faces of sheer panic and disorientation in an otherwise idyllic setting

Matriculation is perhaps the best and most distinctively Cambridge part of Cambridge Freshers’ week. Not only is it an excuse to ponce around in a Harry Potter gown, pretending to be deatheaters, the dinner allowed us to meet and engage with fellows and academics in an informal setting, making the inevitable supervisions much less daunting. And it fulfils the Freshers' week necessity of a shameless gown-clad Instagram post. The entire event truly emphasised the community aspect of the collegiate system and the extensive support network that is available.

I pride myeslf on historical accuracy.

I pride myeslf on historical accuracy.

Frankly, I don’t think I’d have enjoyed my Freshers’ week (or rather, 4 days) half as much anywhere else (warning, cringe). Despite being set an intimidating essay almost as soon as I’d stepped through the doors, despite the entirely new vocabulary that seemingly everyone knows but me, and despite it being over in a breath, Freshers' week has been an amazing experience. Where else can I get away with wearing a JFK costume to a club? In one cliché: it was short but oh boy, was it sweet.