The best places to cry in Cambridge
Bring it on, Week 5
Sometimes Cambridge will throw the weirdest, most strangely difficult first world problems in your direction; Eduroam being down, the college cat rejecting you, never being posted about on Crushbridge, or simply a text from your much-missed best friend from home that sends you into a hurricane of crying and upset.
Since you probably don’t want to be on the train back home to your dog every five minutes, here are some places in Cambridge for you to cry out your problems.
It’s bright, airy, and everybody there is either too engrossed in conversation or their laptop to notice you. As you earnestly try to finish your supervision assignment which is due in the next 10 minutes, you realise over your fifth hot chocolate of the afternoon that Eduroam is down again, and now you can’t send it to your super strict supervisor.
Tears will flow on the sandwiches that are nice enough to justify spending your student loan on (honestly, Newnham café, I’m a top fan), and you stare at everybody googling away in blissful ignorance. Apparently, Eduroam has decided to personally target you today.
Score: 1/10 – people from your course/ college are very likely to spot you, and the eye-contact would be very awkward
The top floor of the MML library
Maybe I’m a bit biased here, but for those of you who have not discovered this oft-forgetten gem, the squashy beanbags between the bookshelves are the perfect place to curl up into a ball and sob about how your supervisor asked whether "everything was OK in your personal life". When, actually, your essay was just that shit.
Score: 2/10 – not many people go there at the right time of day for maudlin moments. Even worse, some lecturers hang out in the adjacent corridor, from which they can see you crying through the windows in the wall. It's a no from me.
Into your DoS’s arms
Your DoS must love you. Why else did they admit you as their student? They’re contractually obliged to look after you now, and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it. I would recommend turning up to a DoS meeting after a mock exam or once supervision reports have come through with tears in your eyes. The pain of being told how badly you’ve been performing will be cushioned by your DoS’s intense pity.
Score: 3/10- Unfortunately highly dependant on how nice your DoS is. May result in them telling you to get a grip or imply they regret admitting you for this environment. Neither, I imagine, will do much for your self-esteem
I find this one is multi-purpose: your supervisor will both have to automatically forgive you for any shit essay you’ve written, and will also be too afraid to ask any vaguely hard questions. However, your supervision partners are likely to tell everyone and your DoS is definitely going to hear about this.
Score: 4/10 – your supervisor will forever be nice to you and will give you lovely, pity comments on your future essays. Although you may feel you can’t tell whether your feedback is genuinely positive or just them trying to ensure you don't have another momentary meltdown.
Down the phone to your mum in your bedroom
Your mum loves you, that’s why she sent you that ‘are you having a mental breakdown because you cried on the phone for three hours solid the other day?’ postcard once you hit Week 5. She is a beautiful and non-judgmental human being whose sole role should be to agree with you on every point you make (well, most of the time), and will try her best to pick you up from home.
Score: 5/10 – your pidge will soon become stuffed with chocolates and cards, but you come to realise that everyone in your family has heard how ‘badly’ the “Cambridge University experience” is going. They might just try to persuade you to leave the place you ultimately would not change for the world.
The Chaplain’s office
You may not be even remotely religious, but a Chaplain that gives you tea, cake and concerning amounts of alcohol is sometimes just what you need to get through a tough day. However, as they try to persuade you to come to Compline next week, and you say that you’ll “definitely” be there, you realise this relationship will never work as you. You'll not only feel guilty about never reciprocating but also about the fact that you never planned to, no matter how many free digestives were consumed. Instead, give them an obligatory big smile every time you pass each other and carry on promising that you’ll start reading the Bible (just so you know you can claim the occasional judgement-free hug when you really need it).
Score: 6/10 – best reserved for emergencies, including extreme tea and cake cravings.
The confectionary aisle in Mainsbury’s
Soon you’ll find yourself procrastinating from that horrible essay by buying yet another chocolate orange from Mainsbury’s. And then you find yourself crying over that essay. And that other essay. And the fact you spend all your money on chocolate oranges and you have to go through the shame of asking your mum for more money again. You find yourself staring at the sweets and biscuits, obsessing over their costs, how unhealthy they are and how that never seems to stop you. Eventually, you realise that tears are dripping down your cheeks. Fortunately, however, the confectionary aisle is full of other miserable, overworked souls with mildly concerning dietary habits, and is mutually agreed to be a judgement-free zone.
Score: 7/10 – your doctor and your bank account will certainly never forgive you in the long run, but that chocolate orange might make everything in life seem just a little bit better.
Addenbrooke’s A&E, specifically after you convinced yourself that you definitely have meningitis
As many people from my college will attest, the day after the end of Michaelmas of first year, I confused a hangover with ACTUALLY DYING. One voicemail to my mum and a car drive to A&E with my Cambridge-based Auntie later, I found myself crying about the fact that I WAS ACTUALLY PROBABLY GOING TO DIE SO WHAT’S THE POINT IN DOING MY DEGREE. Despite this lapse into melodrama, it really helped put things into perspective and cheer up my troubled soul, meaning I was ready to start afresh with my new lease of life after I was given a second chance by some kindly doctors who informed me that I was not, in fact, dying.
Score: 8/10 – excruciatingly embarrassing in the short run, however this is a good method for being a bit more chill about your degree. However, understanding that drinking too much will cause you to think death is imminently upon you, I wouldn't recommend making a habit of such behaviour.
Next to the walls in Fez
If you cry next to the walls in Fez, people will think it’s just pure sweat. Your friends will also probably comfort you by buying you drinks to cheer you up. And then nobody will remember you crying because everyone was too busy drinking and dancing anyway. Your actions will therefore become incredibly easy to move on from, with the added benefit of minimal embarrassment on anyone’s behalf. Unfortunately, alcohol is a depressant, and, in the short term, you may find yourself crying harder in the corner than you would do sober, covered in other people’s sweat, and wondering how you managed to get yourself in this predicament.
Score: 9/10 – very convenient in terms of complete emotional freedom to cry as you wish. Although the alcohol, cramped space and sweat dripping from the ceiling will most certainly make you feel even worse for the few unfortunate hours you find yourself in Fez.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
Crush rejected you and missing your hype-beast of a best friend from home who will constantly explain to you how perfect you are in your own right? The Fitzwilliam museum give you a double win since students hardly go there, creating a perfect nobody-here-knows-you-anyway crying space. Plus, you can indulge in your own self-pity, reminding yourself just how cool and interesting you are as a person who visits museums and shit. Your crush and your disappointed supervisors know nothing. You’re bloody awesome. Look at the picture you’re staring at, tears in your eyes, explaining to the imaginary people in your head that you learned in Art GCSE that the technique this artist has used is very similar to one used by Van Gogh in The Starry Night. (Nobody need know Van Gogh's Starry Night is the only painting you can name.) You're a bloody genius.
Score: 9.5/10 – helps build your cultural education as well as giving you an open space to sob. However, they may ask you to leave once they realise precious paintings and artefacts have been eroded by your endless stream of salty tears.
All photos author's own