A love letter to Michaelmas term
The lull of being home has allowed me to reflect on what was a blur of a first term. Eight weeks. Fifty six days. One thousand, three hundred and forty four hours have been spent in Cambridge and in that time, I think I have learned more about myself than I have in my entire life put together.
On September 27th, I was on a train bound to Cambridge, listening to “Vienna” by Billy Joel whilst crying, wistfully gazing out of the train window after reading a letter that my mum had written me, in which she gave me the crucial advice of “don’t be a nobhead”. I was rather petrified; “would I settle in well? Would I ever learn how to use a washing machine? Would people like me? Would I be able to watch porn over the college wifi?” were just a few of the questions that raced through my mind.
When I arrived at my college (Homerton) lugging a case that probably weighed as much as I do, I thought I’d spontaneously combust. So much information is thrust upon you at once; finance, room keys, rules regarding running on the grass blah blah blah. Then the small talk began, “oh hey hi heya yep ummm please, I’m really interested in your dad telling me how chocker the traffic was all up the ACouldn'tGiveAToss”. Quietly sizing people up, am I going to end up depending on this person indefinitely? (the answer was probably almost a definite yes).
Sometimes, or at least for me, it would be easy to forget where I was, and then suddenly it would hit me out of nowhere. Like when you’re walking past J*hn’s in the semi-dark, and you see the gothic, stone chapel looming over you as it’s bells toll and people scurry around you in their gowned glory.
Granted, this is a thoroughly romanticised picture of life at Cambridge and occasions such as these are a rarity. It’s not all scarves, bikes and seeing middle class boys in Ellesse sportsware vehemently deny that they were privately educated. Oh no, the majority of the time its stress, sleep deprivation, the constant and crippling fear of inadequacy, and drinking the now familiar blend of Red Bull and Ribena out of a scummy mug at half three in the morning, as you read over the same sentence of yet another article written by someone who has unnecessarily used far too many words over three syllables long.
As time passed and the weeks ticked by, I realised that maybe the academic work itself wasn’t the most important part of my time at Cambridge. And that’s not me being intentionally flippant, it’s the fact that you could work as hard as conceivably possible only for your supervisor to shower you in praise such as “decent”, “ok” or, “I think I like it Meg, but I’m not sure what you’re trying to say”.
This, coupled with severe FOMO, is why I have reached the conclusion that if I’m faced with the choice between watching Peep Show for the umpteenth time with some of my floor, or doing some reading that could potentially be useful, my answer would be “four naan Meg, the lack of work you’re doing is INSANE” (relatable, yet self-deprecating comment with pop culture reference? Check!).
Last term, I was more homesick than I thought I would be and I have no doubt there will be times during Lent term when all I’ll want is to get on the next train to Swansea (because that’s where I’m from, I don’t just have some random affinity for the city), but now that I have come home and have been home a while, I’ve found myself missing Cambridge more than I ever imainged.
I think its probably because of how close you become to the people you live with and the friends you make. The friends I have made have seen me at my happiest and have seen me at my lowest. They have seen me naked, paralytic and close to pissing myself. And I find some comfort in that; the fact that because of the intensity of the atmosphere and the lack of time spent here in the grand scheme of things, there is a common sense of “you need me as much as I need you, so let’s just get on with it sharpish”.
Oh God, that was wet. So, I will summarise this love letter of an article with three succinct sentences to my past self, the one who was crying on the train in late September;
1. Nothing (both societies and people) are as scary as they seem.
2. Give red wine a chance, you might actually like it (you do, you really do).
3. Uni will help you affirm that you love certain things and definitely hate others. Uni will also make you realise that fundamentally, you’re an alright person. Uni will make you the happiest you’ve ever been.
Peace n love xoxox