Countdown to Cambridge
The clock is ticking
How can it seem like yesterday that we were (barely) making it through Week 8, exhaustion hitting, with the prospect of finishing the final essay driving us through sleep deprivation and the inevitable cold?
What feels like moments later, the prospect of going back to Cambridge is very much in sight, looming and inescapable. It’s the time to guiltily assess the past four weeks and question what (if anything) has been achieved, beyond the discovery of new and inventive methods of procrastination.
The vacation goes by in a flash, and before you know it its back for round 3 in the ring: Easter term.
Week 1: Recovery
After the joy of packing up your entire room and a chatty car ride home updating your parents on the term’s events, in Week 1 it still remains acceptable not to surface before midday, to avoid excessive exertion and limit social interaction. ‘Cambridge is really intense’ you tell anyone and everyone, proving your point by determinedly being more exhausted than friends from other universities.
Week 2: Resurface
In Week 2 you’re buoyed by a renewed energy, a social wind blowing behind your back, driving you to plan a brunch catch up with anyone who’ll have you (NB: also falls under the category of procrastination strategy). You catch up with home friends; a genuine breath of fresh air and a reminder that life exists outside your idyllic, yet somewhat suffocating, Cambridge college.
Week 3: Holiday
The bank holiday, Easter, a family trip somewhere: all manner of excuses to avoid work. You convince yourself that after a hard term, you deserve a week off, and that after you’re fully rested you’ll be far more productive. You’ll diligently cart revision materials with you on holiday, only to determinedly avoid them while the guilt mounts.
Week 4: Week 4 Blues
The notorious Cambridge phenomenon of the ‘Blues’ is not limited only to term time, it strikes when you least expect it; right in the middle of the holidays. Similar to the term time blues, you’re just over half way through, and beginning to be unable to avoid the necessity of working and the prospect of exams. Reality hits as you come to terms with the fact that you’ve spent 3 weeks doing little to nothing, and that Cambridge is just around the corner. What’s more, being home just doesn’t seem that great any more; you miss being able to walk 2 minutes to have a chat with a friend, and the novelty of home comforts has worn off.
Week 5: How much home cooked food is too much?
The first few weeks, ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’ was an effective strategy to ensure all your favourite meals made appearances at the dinner table. By week 5, either you or your parents are getting tired of this exercise. Hall food begins to develop a nostalgic glow, and you’re slowly aware that hearty portions and movement only between the bedroom and living room does not a healthy lifestyle make.
Week 6: Panic
It’s here, it’s unavoidable, and it’s 13 days away: the start of term. Spare a thought for those with prelims in Week 0, truly a wonderful welcome back into the warm (read: cold, harsh) bosom of Cambridge existence. You scramble to catch up on the work avoided in the previous 5 weeks, while simultaneously repacking your entire life, dutifully seeing relatives and friends before you go back, and mentally preparing yourself for Easter term.
In this cocktail of foreboding, dread and grim resignation, there’s no denying the presence of a shot or two of excitement. Sure, it’s lovely and comfortable being home, but Cambridge life and its manic intensity has an alluring pull that is hard to resist. So its back again, and secretly we love it.