My Favourite Things in Cambridge
A tired fresher’s wholesome guide to the best bits of Cambridge
Michaelmas term is nearly over, and it's been a wild two months. Sure, I now reassemble an increasingly self-pitying, confused zombie, delirious from the intensity of the 'workhardplayhard' culture. Still, in the midst of the Michaelmas madness, I've never missed out on an opportunity to have fun. Without further ado, here are my life-affirming favourites, that can save you too from the madness of the hectic Cambridge life.
First of all, the Crepe Van is a place of dreams. Who knew happiness was made of batter? All the pancakes, sweet (delicious sugar kick) and savoury (for the true crêpe connoisseur) are Manna from Heaven; the Crepe Company’s owner is a carb creating GOD and possibly the happiest man alive. I was first introduced to this glorious pit-stop by my College Father (plot twist: a Varsity hack); when I received my first loyalty card he proudly stated we were now ‘Like father, like Son’. My face was too full of delicious melty pancakey cheese to tell him I was in fact his daughter. Come to the Crepe Van, and you too can achieve such a bonding experience, favoured by all student journos. Dare I say it? This is the real Van of Life.
Suffering from delusions of grandeur is expertly catered for at Cambridge. Yes, the pre-dominance of booming Latin, of hierarchical formality, and myriad other medieval hangovers, may appear stuffy or intimidating to some; but I have totally fallen for all aspects of Cambridge traditions. Best way to cure a hump day? Don your gown and swan around for a bit! You won’t learn anything, but you’ll look like you have. Go to Formal Hall, and fulfil your 9- year-old self’s wildest dreams, of basically being Harry Potter. Alternatively, attending Evensong has been one of the highlights of my term so far. Despite being non-religious, raised in the simplicity of Quakerism, the ceremony, stunning singing, and architecture of the college chapel made for a transcendent and moving experience.
Favourite Camb Institution
The Cambridge Union is not exactly a place where you will learn the Art of Zen. The speakers, and debates, are crucial, and confrontational. Sometimes difficult (Stephen Hawking), sometimes not so much (Reality TV debate), always engaging ; it's a relief to be mentally stimulated outside the Tripos.
(p.s. also Footlights, but I still feel the sting of rejection for not getting into the 2nd smoker, after having fun in the first. But anyway top notch evening)
Favourite Going out
Always terrible. I don’t recommend. There is nothing life-affirming about waiting in a queue for so long you may as well start planning your graduation ceremony outfit. And the clubs in Cambridge, as we all know, are the, well, the clubs in Cambridge. Respect yourself, and don’t bother; just wait until you get back to your home town. Or follow my cheat’s guide – just do College bar/ Pre-drinks/ Van of Life, and skip out the Seven Circles of Hell queuing/ ‘clubbing’ part. These options are approximately 900% more fun than slowly expiring from hypothermia outside Waterstones, at 10pm, more intoxicated by next-day essay panic than actual alcohol.
If I had a pound for every time I accidentally had a life affirming experience here – well, I’d probably bribe my College’s Master, to let me play at being him for the day. (Just me? OK.) Just in my first term I’ve felt uplifted by so many things, great and inconsequential: going for early-morning runs along the backs; playing science experiments with a temperamental gyp; wandering around the city at night, with a friend, the timeless college towers and walls shaping the darkness. Going to concerts, plays, and cafés; staircase parties and room gatherings that last late into the night. Buying food from the market; going punting, and nearly sinking; visiting the Fitzwilliam. I’ve had great pleasure in discovering Cambridge, beyond the Library/ Buttery/ Life triangle, and feel ever more fortunate to live in this place where boredom cannot breach the city.