Why do Cambridge students complain so much?
Such a degree of moaning is neither cathartic nor entirely justified
Why do us Cambridge students moan so much? Is it inherent within our nature? Or is it just indicative of our lack of gratitude? These are all poignant, age-old questions. Nonetheless, year by year, they seem to go unanswered. I believe that the crux of our predilection for a moan, lies within what has been coined the ‘Cambridge bubble’.
As a lawyer, I can tell you that the workload here is ridiculous. It always seems as if I’m on a deadline – bound by the wishes of one supervisor or another. There I go again – moaning. There's no doubt that there are few universities in the UK that have the same demands of work expected from students as Cambridge. It is an intrinsic part of the institution, setting it apart from the so-called ‘party unis’ and other academically respected institutions. The highly acclaimed supervision system means there is no hiding – quite literally.
We all know that feeling when you’re in a supervision and haven’t covered an area of the set work, and the supervisor directs a question at you concerning it. That feeling of your heart sinking so deep, you don’t think it’s possible to survive. Perhaps it is the fear of this feeling that drives us to work so hard.
There is no doubt that we work A LOT. But the ironic thing is, when you take a step back from the work and intensity of the Cambridge environment, you realise just how stimulating the work actually can be. You realise how engaged you’ve become with a subject that you are so genuinely passionate about (or at least you professed to be in your personal statement). Maybe the reason why we moan is because this opportunity to really appreciate the quality of education we receive, is so few and far between.
When you think about it, some of the stuff we moan about is pretty trivial and so far removed from everyday life. I hear people complain about the shoddy quality of their accommodation all the time, yet we live in one of the most aesthetically and architecturally beautiful areas in Britain, with state of the art accommodation in most instances. I mean, have you seen the Stephan Hawking building?!
People even go as far as to moan about working and sporting facilities, which is really quite laughable. The facilities here are second to none, catering to all the educational and sporting needs that we could ask for. There is no doubt, no matter your background, we have all been caught in this bubble, complaining about the most mundane of things, that in three years will mean nothing to us.
The nightlife here is undoubtedly questionable: as some have suggested to me, you have to be off your face to enjoy it. Although I may not totally agree with this logic, I do share the same antipathy toward Cambridge nightlife, even just after my first term as a fresher. For me, moving from London, has been difficult. The nightlife in Cambridge is essentially the polar opposite of what I'm used to. Whether it's suffocating in Spoons, the rage fest of a house party or even the coveted bops which are the pride and joy of all JCRs, it all seems alien to me.
I guess you’re expecting a 'however' though, and here it comes. Distance lends perspective, and as I am now writing this on a train back to London, I have had an interesting thought.
Cambridge is probably one of the few places in the world where you have the chance to meet anyone, literally anyone, who shares the same values (or vibe) as you. I’ve always believed that what's key to having a great time is the people you’re with. It may be worth taking time to appreciate this powerful thing we’re a part of, with students from all around the world. Maybe, just maybe, we should take a break from moaning about work, Cambridge, and even the dismal Cindies music, and instead enjoy the quality of company we have around us. I may sound like such a spiritual adventurer, but I think you get the gist.
Step outside of this ‘Cambridge bubble’ and you'll realise just how privileged and special we are. As one of my pals said on day one – “we made it!”. Yes, we have made it. So quit the moaning, enjoy these three years, (or if you're a medic, six), and immerse yourself in what Cambridge has to offer – even if it is Wednesday Cindies.