Your very own unofficial official Cambridge dictionary
After undergoing all the trials of unpacking, navigating college, humouring your flatmate's dad with feigned small talk and ushering your parents firmly out of college following the obligatory family photo, they potter off. All that’s left is a big new world and what seems like an entire new foreign language to learn.
Lucky for you, we're here to help. I present The Tab’s unofficial official translation of Cambridge.
You've probably got this one sussed, this refers to the Porters’ Lodge of your college where, naturally, the Porters hang out. It's best to stay on their good side: they have memories beyond belief. They will remember you as the girl who stumbled in at 6:45am in shameful disarray, and with a glint in their eye as they hand over your fifth ASOS order of the term the day after with a cajoling, ‘tired?’.
Your fancy, official 'welcome to Cambridge' ceremony that everyone dreams of. You get to dress up in formal wear wearing your gown for the first time and have a 4 course meal in hall. Just try not to get smashed in front of your Dos, who, conveniently will be sitting next to you.
The special part of the Oxbridge experience that everyone gets hyped over. 'Formals' are a 3 course (subsidised) dinner in your college's hall, where you wear your gown and typically dress smart (dresses and heels for girls, suit and tie for boys) — though members of some colleges, whose identities shall remain disclosed, have been known to turn up to formals in their pj's or Stan Smith's beneath their gowns… Nonetheless, it is fun to dress up and get together with friends in a slightly fancier setting than your sauce encrusted table in your gyp.
Top tip: get friends you make at other colleges to invite you to their formals. E.g. Pembroke and Johns typically have delicious food in a beaut setting. It’s really good fun — albeit quite expensive if done often.
1/4 of the clubs in Cambridge — recently redone and re-christened 'Vinyl' (RIP Kuda). This Friday/Sunday night haunt has been granted the affectionate nickname 'Life' for whatever reason (no one really knows how/why). Here you will probably drink more VKs than you ever cared to, and dance to songs reminiscent of your pre-teen years of Now 25 hits. The groups dancing next to you will range from the guys donning suits mooching around in the sticky booths, to those dressed as pirates creating a mosh-pit during the chorus of Stacey's Mum. It is a rite of passage to queue for longer than the actual experience is worth. My advice? Pre hard my friends.
G-what? Your gyp is the name for the hole in the wall which will be your kitchen. Expect the bare minimum and subtract 10. You'll get a microwave and kettle, potentially a hot plate that will much more effectively store plates on than boil your water for pasta. However, at several colleges the kitchens are actually large, not grimy and have cool stuff like ovens! Not kidding!
That part of the Cambridge experience which you were bullshitting about looking forward to the most in your interview. Supo = supervision, you'll usually have 1-2 a week sometimes double/triple that subject dependent. You discuss your weekly essay/work in it with a few other people on your course and share the roast from your supervisor collectively amongst the three of you. It's not all bad…
This isn't some archaic way of expressing who your mate shagged last night; its the lovely lady who will clean your room. Like the porters, it's best if you keep them happy. You will rightfully incur their eternal wrath if they turn up at your room at 9am on a Friday and they find your room trashed by the remnants of the night before. It's not uncommon for a angsty note to greet you as you arrive back at your room from yours truly.
Aka play drinking games with strangers from another college eating stale naan bread in a stingy basement of an unlicensed Chinese takeaway joint whilst you listen to Johnny from Christ's tell you about how fun the girls from Newnham were last week. It's effectively forced 'meet new people'. When your mates back home told you Cambridge students can't socialise you probably thought they were wrong…
Those bastards whose first year effectively means nothing. That includes the Englings, Historians and a few Classicists. You'll spot them easily in Exam term practically skipping around college from Week 2 with an air of superiority, writing their essays sprawled carelessly on the lawn, scheduling impromtu visits home fervently claiming throughout first year that this year "doesn't count"… they literally don't care.
You'll have your first ever one in Freshers week: think back to your Year 8 disco at school; boys on one side, girls on the other wasted on squadka which you've managed to sneak in past the teachers…and you're not too far off a college bop. Cheesy tunes, £1 shots and an ever original theme brainstormed by the JCR Ents reps which will require you to scour the poor selection of Cambridge charity shops and your friends wardrobes to find a vaguely on-theme costume.
Undisputedly the best week of the 24 you will spend at Cambridge in your first year. Full of lots of balls and garden parties: in short, it's a big fancy piss up to celebrate the completion of your year. However, don't be alarmed at the lack of PR/hype in the lead up to May, very counter intuitively, May Week actually takes place in early June.
The Cantabs solution to the usual lack of Saturday nights out in town is to flock to the local Wetherspoons. The ground floor transforms into a dance-floor where Cantabs and townies alike convene for a night of rowdy, 2-for-12 quid pitcher fuelled fun.
Van of Life/Van of Death
Speaking of nightlife, these two staple drunk food joints will inevitably find their way onto your route home. People tend to flock to the Van of Life on market square opposite the passage way leading to Maccie's for all the your drunk food necessities, whilst the Van of Death looms on the opposite side, considerably less attended.
You will hear a lot about 'Varsity' in first term. In this sense, it refers to the annual, infamous Oxbridge Ski Trip. Tremendous fun and would 10/10 recommend doing in first year whether you've hit the slopes every Winter since you were 5 or if you've never even thought about trying skiing before. Been named 'the best week of my life' by several attendees last year…
Varsity can also refer to the annual sports tournaments where we go head to head with Oxf*rd. You will see lots of Varsity related profile pic updates peppered with blues puns in Easter term.
Now with this valuable knowledge, go forth and conquer Freshers and above all have a great freshers week — or should we say 4 days?! xo