Image may contain: Court, Architecture, Urban, Town, High Rise, City, Building, Apartment Building, Vase, Pottery, Potted Plant, Plant, Jar, Flora

The ultimate guide to Girton

Enough of the trash talk, people

cycling girton Lectures University of Cambridge work

Girton. The college that everyone forgets about.

You know, big, impressive red-brick building? The first Cambridge college to admit women? One of the only places in the UK you can find the black squirrel? No?

Well, if you haven’t heard of us, I guess I can forgive you. We are quite out of the way, and I imagine if I was lucky enough to come from one of the central colleges, where living, learning and partying can all happen within the same postcode, I wouldn’t be too concerned about what goes on outside the little bubble of busyness that is Cambridge City Centre either.

Image may contain: Map, Diagram

*Google maps location marker looks towards Cambridge longingly*

But it’s not all sand dunes and tumbleweeds out here. Girton, contrary to the throw-away stereotypes that are bundled around whenever its name is mentioned, is actually the place to be.

We didn't all get pooled either. Yes, a few of us did – I get nervous in interviews, ok? But please don't ask me what college I originally applied to mid-Mr Brightside at Wednesday Cindies. Or any time, preferably. This is not a substitute for an actual conversation.

My point is, I feel like Girton is being overlooked. Yes, it requires a bit of extra effort to get home in the evening, but there’s a lot more to us than that. We may not be the first stop on a tourist’s to-do list – or any stop for that matter – but, when you brush away the cobwebs of presumptions we’re still a quintessential Cambridge college. Which, by definition, means we’re amazing. DUH!

Image may contain: Court, Castle, Building, Architecture

Look! Isn't it pretty! (Photo: Elizabeth Stephenson)

For starters, we’re not actually THAT far away. I reckon it takes me about 15 minutes to cycle in, and trust me, I’m bad. There have been times when I’ve been cycling for my life – head down, battling through the intense burning in my thighs, crying, screaming, wanting it all to end – only to look up and see an old woman glide past, pedalling at half the speed.

The distance has its pros and cons. Probably the worst thing is waking up later than scheduled, absolutely powering down Huntingdon Road to make up for lost time, then arriving at your class late, gasping for breath and sweating like a pig. I apologise to all the strangers I’ve ended up sitting next to while absolutely drenched in sweat during these first few weeks. I realise it’s not the best way to introduce yourself.

Image may contain: Portrait, Face, Person, People, Human

"Hi, I'm Thom. Nice to meet you."

On the plus side, us Girtonians can spot each other from a mile off. The “Girton sheen” as I’ve heard it affectionately referred to, has become our badge of honour. Bumping into someone else who is red-faced, exuding body odour and glistening in the sunlight? That’s bonding, right there.

It’ll get easier though, so I’m told. The daily cyclothon is already starting to become a relatively pleasant unwind from a stress-filled day. Some, including one friend who was caught up in an “incident” that involved handlebars and flying over them, have already given up and resorted permanently to the bus. Whatever the transport, a lengthy commute is a fantastic opportunity to clear your head at the end of a long, lecture-filled day.

It also brings with it the chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the tourist hotspot that is Central Cambridge. It’s nice to get away from it all sometimes – and Girton is a fantastically beautiful little oasis of tranquillity, tucked away in the trees. Stunning Victorian buildings, unique wildlife, quaint little courtyards, an orchard, obviously – all to ourselves, because no one else bothers to make the journey.

Image may contain: Window

One of Girton's many mini-courtyards (Photo: Rebecca McNeill)

We also have some pretty good facilities. For starters, we’re the only college to have our very own, indoor, heated swimming pool. Beat that.

We’ve also got acres and acres of sports pitches – you know, with all the space we have out here – along with a well-equipped gym, squash courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a croquet pitch, just to remind us all that we’re in Cambridge.

And our library is one of the most extensively-stocked of all the College libraries, with over 95,000 books and plenty of computers, and our dining is just as Hogwartsy as anywhere else. Formals are held once a week, every Thursday, and are fantastic occasions. The food is, of course, of a very high quality, and the atmosphere surreal – everything you want from a Cambridge formal. The Mistress entering to the sound of her very own gong, and then proceeding to drop the mic with her trademark “Benedictus, Benedictat” line, is one of the most Cambridge things you’ll ever have the privilege of witnessing.

Oh, and our porters are really nice too. No top-hats and waistcoats here, just a really smiley, happy, and non-judgemental team who will let you back into your room no matter how many times you lock yourself out. I’m on eight, by the way.

The sticker doesn't work

But, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that everything is absolutely perfect – we do have our faults.

Our rooms are also quite expensive for what they are – some pretty small without en-suites, and in some cases, without Wi-Fi. I know, sickening.

And yes, I will admit, the distance from town can SOMETIMES be annoying. Yet, in true Girton style, we’ve even managed to convince ourselves that that’s not necessarily a bad thing either, because it forces us all to share taxis, meaning there’s always absolutely loads of us on a night out.

That’s the thing though. We know what our flaws are, but we embrace them. Our solidarity in the face of adversity is unrivalled. Our attitude defiant. Our character as strong as our cyclist thighs. You know, sticks and stones and all that.

Image may contain: Weather, Smoke, Smog, Pollution, Nature, Fog, Speech, Person, Human, Crowd, Audience

Yes, they actually got us to sing this (Photo: Riva Kapoor)

We don’t let the jokes and insults get us down. Yes, some of them have a slight ring of truth, but we certainly aren’t as bad as your friends from Kings will make us out to be. I think many, if they ever decided to visit, would be pleasantly surprised by what Girton has to offer. Honestly, you should all come down some time.

No? Too much effort? Can’t be bothered? Don't have a bike? Ok. Fair enough.