Why Week 8 is the worst week of all

We love to hate Cambridge, but hate to leave


You poor thing. You week 8 wreck. You shadow of your former self. Whilst once, back in the mists of Week 1, you possessed all the joy and shiny hair of a well-kept Krufts poodle, now, you are nothing. You are a zombie, barely alive, suistained only by caffeine, a working knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System, and a fawning desire to please your DoS. We may be leaving Cambridge now; but our souls have already left our bodies.

Was it Plato who first called Week 5 the worst week of term? Or Nietzche? I hate to deviate from this view, now accepted fact; but, for the purposes of this article, here's the hot new idea: Week 8 is the ditch, the nadir, the Worst Week of Term. Week 8 marks the end of the academic term; and with this end comes a new beginning – the briefest and most beguiling periods of freedom. Yet this liberty is tinged, tainted, tarnished. It is not just our physical, emotional, and academic degradation that so darkens these days, but also the knowledge the term is ending.

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we were so happy once

First of all: let us examine the depths to which we have morally and corporeally descended by Week 8. Work is a cruel mistress at Cambridge, and our relationship status with her would be 'It's Complicated'. Doing it is a self-inflicted sadism. It burns, your eyes may water, morals are questioned – but this is a University with Faculties bursting with addicts.

Hours, days, weeks are devoted to work; sometimes the marks yield in your favour, sometimes they remain cruelly beyond your squirming grasp. Stockholm Syndrome has wrecked any judgement you once had; work is a captor, but one we dedicate our lives, and risk our physical health for. Synapses are sizzled, eyes twitch after long library nights. Fingers are crooked and bent, transfigured into hags' claws by Repetitive Strain Injury. Physical health was abandoned long ago, sacrificed to the alter of Kant and Einstein and Please Give Me a First I Will Look After It I Promise.

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What are we ultimately waiting for?

Such a conflict reaches its apex in Week 8, when workloads vary hugely. We struggle on, suffering under the weight of the Last Essay, or the Last Test, whilst existing in an almost entirely comatose state. It is clear that it is impossible to produce work of any meaningful quality in Week 8; today my brain-dead state unskillfully mixed Spanish, French, and English into entirely incomprehensible sentences. (I'm frankly surprised I can still spell in English.)

Even the Elysian Fields of 'NO WORK LEFT' prove troubling. Now the longed-for moment is finally here, it is unclear what should be done with it. Having constructed entire personalities and lives around assignments, essays, and projects, the new space is smothering. Suddenly, Cambridge snobbery has no validation: without work, who are we? You catch yourself excusing yourself on grounds of work, but your final essay has been handed in, your lectures have finished. Re-defining yourself without the nerdy drive to achieve, without the self-importance of constant business, without the allure of academic achievment, is disturbing. Are we, in Week 8, (whisper it) like everybody else?

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Are we like everybody else?

Final moments mark Week 8. The worst part of these last days, ironically, the sobering knowledge that, for a month, all will be put away and left behind. Soon we will be shipped back home to terrorise dry commuter towns, temporarily cutting ties with friends, no longer to be surrounded by the stirring archicture, or to live life in the most idiosyncratic and intriguing of communities.** Secretly, you're sad to leave: and that is what makes Week 8 the worst week of all.

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Cambridge doing a postcard

*or is it just a Tab conspiracy for more views???

**(am aware that could also refer to Mormons and generally any cult)