A small fish in a very big pond: Week 1 at Cambridge University

The Trials and Tribulations of a Fresher


Cambridge University. It has that mythic aura surrounding it that nobody can truly describe. And yet, here I am at long last. It's strange to think that in a week's time it will have been a year since submitting my UCAS application, and I don't think any amount of prepatory reading would have adequately prepared me for the onslaught of Week 1.

I pity that sweet summer child who considered reading one page of a novel in the space of month as work, and whose simple timetables were magically sorted by a blessed computer algorithm. Now winter has come, and between the endless books, timetable clashes and Moodle pages, all I see is a forever overflowing email inbox–and I know this is only the beginning.

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Ah, yes, the beauty of 15th century architecture

So, who am I? My name is Tom, and I'm a Fresher at Trinity College studying Modern and Medieval Languages. No, it is not just an English degree in another language. Basically the Medieval bit means we study old texts. Yes, really. No, I'm not a native speaker. Yes, I actually have to do work. Yes, I enjoy grammar…sort of. No, I don't know how to say "My hovercraft is full of eels" in Russian. I wish I did.

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Omniglot providing those classic GCSE speaking phrases…

Week 1 has hit like a tourist gets hit by a cyclist in central Cambridge: hard, fast, and with little to no remorse. With deadlines already looming, Week 1 looks set to be a painful slap in the face. But, it's also been one of the most liberating slaps in the face you can experience. Meeting new people, trying new things, experiencing the vast array of questionable clubs Cambridge has to offer, eating cheesy chips for the first time – you know, all those necessary life experiences! It has to be said, being able to smugly cut through King's flashing your Cam Card like you're entering MI5 is a particular highlight that I'm sure will wear off very soon.

While Week 1 has been full of academic lessons, it's perhaps more apt to say that it has been fuller of life lessons…

Lesson Number 1: Setting off the fire alarm does not get funnier each time you do it, it will surely earn you enemy status (passive aggressive warning to whoever keeps ruining the Wolfson Building's passion for sleep).

Lesson Number 2: Don't lend second years your laundry card, they will use and abuse your innocence so that you can't do your own washing.

Lesson Number 3: any gap between your supo in college and a lecture at Sidge smaller than half an hour will never be enough.

There are many more lessons that are to be learned through the unfortunate lens of hindsight. But hey, what's uni without a few mistakes along the way?