The ultimate freshers bucket list
For the Cantab wanting the quintessential experience
1) Eat food in giant batwings because why not
Going to formal is the classic Cambridge prospectus experience. If your gown doesn’t smell suspiciously of gravy and red wine by the end of first year then you are either doing it wrong or you’re less clumsy than I am. Formal is an extravagance so I don’t advocate going all the time, but it’s just about the cheapest three course meal you’ll have in your life so take advantage while you can and stuff yourself with wood grouse or whatever slightly pretentious food they are serving.
2) Swim in the Cam
Mosey on down to Grantchester and hop in the river. Just do it, it’ll be fun I promise. No really, the exhilarating thrill of swimming next to a cow totally makes up for the pondweed and pollution. Take a picnic, a six pack (of tinnies, muscles optional), some pals and have yourself a day out in the (almost) countryside. Although probably wait until Easter term because you’ll freeze if you go now. Unless you’re into extreme sport.
3) Get in a boat
I’m not some elitist boatie, I don’t think you have to row. It’s just, there’s a river right there so you may as well take advantage. If you, like me, feel nauseous at the thought of rising before 6am to sit in a little boat and row then feel free to hire a punt instead. Your college might even have some you can take for free, in which case I am very envious. If you are terrible at punting you may well end up combining it with swimming in the Cam. Two for the price of one!
4) Break a rule!!!!! Revolt!!!
Me?? Advocating rule breaking?? I know it is indeed shocking but sometimes Cambridge can feel a bit like still being at school with all these endless rules and the constant threat of being deaned. I’m not saying you should tear pages from library books before lighting a pyre in the centre of the grass you aren’t allowed to walk on but if you light a candle in your room or get portered once or twice then you have not shamed your family, so just remember that.
5) Visit the esteemed UL
I avoided the UL for months, its immensity was just too much to handle. But you need to go and get lost in the UL. Crying in North Front 6 because that book just definitely isn’t where it should be is a quintessential experience. In years to come you will be able to remember the joy of finding out how to turn on the lights so you don’t have to use a phone torch anymore to find books. And, like, I’m not suggesting you should play sardines in the UL but it would be legendary if you did.
6) May Balls, June Events, Garden Parties etc
May week is 10/10 a good time. Everyone has finished exams and is absolutely raring to go, there’s going to be a bunch of sick events you’ll want to go to. However, they can come with a sickening price tag as well. My advice: work half on-half off at other colleges events with some friends for free entry and a good time. Weirdly, picking up drunk people’s litter was kind of fun anyway with all my dear friends there for moral support.
7) Be a tourist
Idk what this means to you, but whether it’s a bumper day of visiting museums and colleges, browsing in shops or going to evensong at King’s you should just do it. You will be annoyed by tourists blocking the road all the time so if you can’t beat them, join them.
8) Throw yourself into things (but not literally, like I’m not advocating you running full tilt into the Corpus Clock)
I’m the sort of person who thrives on being so busy they barely have time to breathe, so I am biased. But, for me Cambridge would be nothing without all the excellent things I do outside my degree. There’ll be no other time in your life that you get to simultaneously juggle the responsibilities of pointless committee member, journalist, singer…and occasional student.