Christmas Vac: How much Cam is too much Cam?
Survived without being too pretentious?
Coming back home was a shock after eight weeks in Cambridge for the very first time. As a fresher, Christmas is a weird, if enjoyable, five weeks – everything is so normal and yet so different. The worst bit is working out whether to talk about it all the time because it's where you're at uni but also awkwardly keeping quiet so your home friends don't go mad as you explain for the seventh time the difference between Mainsbury's and S'local. So, how much Cam is too much Cam?
The first part of this process had to be gauging who cared and who didn't, and importantly what they cared about. Mum? Cares a lot, mainly about what you ate and if you made friends. Lifelong best friend? Cares but also has their own stories to tell, mainly wants to hear how you've survived without them. Peripheral friends in the pub? Might enjoy tragic stories from nights out but leave out the stress, Cambridge jargon and college pride. Mum's friend Sharon? Wants you to shut up. Your mum has been telling her exaggerated stories since the start of term.
Therefore you have to learn how to manage it. The key seems to be in general to give story for story, then no one can really be in the wrong. Then you're only talking about it as much as your friend who does Economics at Bristol. You can't always be perfect – I spent our A level certificates meet up telling people I was going to London that evening to see uni friends instead of spending all night in our local spoons (very bad timing). But everyone back from uni is having a similar dilemma – even if it seems more irritating the fact it's Cambridge you're talking about.
Then of course there's how clingy can you be with your friends who two short months ago you didn't even know existed. This is harder than talking to your home friends, your home friends have known you forever they'll excuse mildly pretentious behaviour as funny. But will your uni friends think you tagging them in 3 to 4 memes a day is a sign of your friendship or just down right weird and clingy?
Then there comes the even more pressing matter of whether or not you should see them. In Michaelmas Week 8 it seems that everyone is dead certain they'll have many a reunion during the vac. But after you're home for a week the whole idea seems stupid. Although, we all crumble. By week 3 at home one of us from Essex and another from Sheffield found ourselves in a South East London spoons. Uni friendships are odd fragile creatures in this early stage, they're insanely intense whilst you're there and being without my main friends over Christmas Vac was odd. It's just reminding yourself that by day 2 of Lent Term you'll be exactly back to the way you were before.
Moral: while you're at home, enjoy your home friends but give love and attention to your uni friends – uni friends are for life not just for term time.
But of course, whilst you're being cool and collected talking about Cambridge in a minimal but interesting way and also giving your uni friends love but not too much love – there's the obstacle of an over proud and excited family. The first obstacle is that why you're being cool and collected your mum likes to butt in randomly to group conversations how hilarious it is you can get up for 7am rowing outings when at home she struggled to get you up for sixth form. Then, second obstacle, they like to buy you lots of random Cambridge related stuff just because – I'm talking a college mug and a 500 page history of Emmanuel College among others. (Please tell me that I'm not the only one?)
Finally there's the work – how much Cambridge work is too much work? For most of us I can bet the guilt of not doing work resurfaced after 3 days at home of non-stop Netflix and home cooked food. But this is followed by waiting the customary 2 weeks, doing the average amount to get assignments done and then ignoring the fact that next week non-stop work starts again. Definitely taking the guilt of not doing work 3 days in was too much Cambridge. Because despite the cautionary warnings the Christmas Vacation is a holiday and among the many things to take back from Cambridge, the constant stress is definitely not one.
Here's to the fact we survived the Christmas Vacation without being too irritating (hopefully) and that come next week we get to the do the whole thing again – before navigating the Easter Vacation that, due to the less in your face holiday, should be a breeze compared to this.