Your College Aunts Week 7: Homecoming and Holidays

We’re in the home stretch… and what a term it’s been

CN: Mentions of sexual harassment

What a week it’s been! Leila just got out of isolation and the outside world was once again graced with her presence, whilst Xanthe’s work has really started to pile up… how the tables have turned. Whilst Xanthe was working hard on her supo work and applying for internships, Leila was ordering the Juicy Couture tracksuit she’s wanted for ages, and that goes to show how your aunts really balance each other out – something you’d also be aware of if you gave the podcast a listen. Seriously, what are you waiting for?  Them to text you back? A waste of your time. Listening to two severely under-qualified individuals dish out advice in answer to the woes and worries of Cambridge students? A guaranteed good time. Listen here, but only once you’ve finished reading this column, obviously. And if you’re sitting there with a problem that needs answering, why not anonymously submit it to us here? Enough of the self-promo, let’s get into your problems and try and find some solutions!

Q1: Hey! I’m a fresher and feel that this term has gone so quickly and I’m worried I haven’t made the most of it. Since we actually have less time in Cam than other unis, what are your top tips to make the most of it?

Cool the FOMO, every fresher feels this way, especially this year given Covid. A really practical thing you can do is make a ‘post-lockdown list’ of activities for the rest of the year that you’d like to do once lockdown is over. Some of these activities should be the classic touristy stuff: punting with friends, walking around the old colleges, getting Chelsea buns from Fitzbillies, sitting on the wall on King’s Parade. Others should be the classic student stuff: stay until close at Sunday Life, go to a DnB event at Junction, network in the Van of Life queue, network in the Gardies queue network in literally any queue, to be honest, try and do a formal at as many different colleges as possible, pick up a new sport at college.

Beyond that, though you should also try all the coffee shops, the restaurants, the stalls in Market Square. Go on late night walks around town, both for the physical and mental benefits, but also because this place is so beautiful and quiet at night. All that said, your list should be individual to you, it is literally impossible to have the perfect experience and do everything. You need to decide what is important to you and what you want to come away from uni with.

Because realistically you have to fit the ‘uni experience’ around the work. So prioritise accordingly. During school, I think we all glamourized the uni experience too much. Yes for a lot of people they are the best years of your life, for others less so. Don’t force your 3+ years here to be something they aren’t. You’ll work hard, you’ll find some friends, you might even fall in and out of love, you might learn your limits with intoxicants through questionable experimentation, but one way or another you’ll have a lot of new and strange experiences.

Don’t force these to happen, just enjoy Cam for what it is. A beautiful city, with lots of intelligent, attractive, young people running around, with a lot of opportunities but also a lot of work and stress.

Q2: I’ve just started dating someone, and now we are going into lockdown and I can only see them outside, two meters apart. If we go home for the holidays, this means I likely won’t get to be close to them until January/February and I’m not sure how well a new relationship will cope. 

Surely, if you don’t think it will cope with time apart it’s about as strong and stable as Theresa May, and therefore you shouldn’t want to continue it.  Firstly, let’s not use the phrase ‘get close to’; be clear with yourself. Do you mean within two meters or do you mean within zero/negative meters? Because if the former – yeah that sucks but hand-holding and a hug is not the backbone of the relationship, and if the latter – take Leila’s advice from the podcast and realise that delaying can actually make it better when you get round to it because there is some antici….pation.

Secondly, don’t assume the worst, without even discussing it with the other person and giving it a chance. Finding someone you like who likes you back is so rare in a place like this where everyone is running around like a self-absorbed headless chicken. So just tell the other person your concerns, and figure out a way through this together. I am time and time again so shocked by the poor quality of communication going on here, sort it out, people. If the other person knows how you feel, they can make sure to put aside time to speak to you on the phone, they can spend more time with you now in this last few weeks or even start making plans for when you get back to uni in January.

You have to trust that if you like them now and you have something good, then it can survive into the future. This is true for all relationships, otherwise why the f**k would you bother dating them?

Q3: I have feelings for a fellow fresher but they aren’t over their ex from school. Do I wait around until they are or do I just leave it?

Ah, not over their ex… sounds familiar.

This seems like a difficult one at first, but honestly, if they’ve explicitly stated this to you: believe them. Hate to be brutal, but if they’ve said this specifically to you in a context where you’ve been a bit flirty or implied you’re into them, then this is probably their way of subtly rejecting you. Either way, do you really want to sit around waiting for someone who’s ‘not over their ex’ on the off-chance that if they get over them they’ll go for you? What a waste of your time.

Imagine if you put the time and energy you’ve spent ‘liking’ them and hoping for more into yourself instead. Maybe question why you’re attracted to someone who is clearly emotionally unavailable and, failing that, potentially just not into you. There’s definitely something you need to unpack there. Nothing in this situation would provide the foundations for a healthy relationship, so stop romanticising it in your head. To me, it sounds like you might need to spend some time to work on yourself so that you can reach a stage where you only want what wants you, and can understand that you don’t deserve to be spending your time on people who aren’t at all invested in you.

Q4: A male friend in my household is trying to make moves to me and yet rejecting him has made no difference. I feel uncomfortable in my own staircase (help) and who do I tell.

Alarm bells rang in my head as I read this.

To me, this really demonstrates the extent to which consent issues are ever-present, often in less explicit ways than we think.

First of all, it doesn’t sound like he’s really a friend. I say this because if he really was a friend, he wouldn’t be violating your boundaries in this way, nor would his actions be guided by his desire to get with you. There is a complete lack of regard for your feelings and what you want, and this is ideally the kind of situation you run from. However, living with him,  especially in these lockdown times means that you probably feel like its inescapable. You should not feel uncomfortable in your own staircase which should be your second home, so I would definitely tell someone. Reporting such things can be scary, but you need to put your own welfare and safety first, especially if it feels as if your current situation is potentially endangering you.

Your first port of call may be your JCR welfare officers, or your women’s/gender equalities officers. Every college has a slightly different set-up in relation to such issues and with regard to reporting incidents. If you reach out to the right people in college you should hopefully be able to work out which line of action would work for you and make you most comfortable. In doing something rather than nothing, you are taking control of a situation in which it feels like you currently have no control, and you will feel relieved. Know that things can get better, this can be solved, and there is still hope. I send my love and sympathy your way, and I really hope that you manage to solve this situation in a way that leaves you feeling comfortable in your staircase and generally happier.

There are groups you can get involved with for support, such as Loud and Clear or WomCam which both look to raise awareness about issues such as consent and sexual harassment, whilst also providing a safe space for women and non-binary students in general. If you find this incident has really impacted you, then counselling can also really help. As mentioned in last week’s article, know that you can speak to your college counsellor or request counselling from the University Counselling Service. You deserve support, as situations like these are far from easy to navigate and can certainly negatively impact your mental health.

Well, that’s all from us this week…

If you haven’t already listened to our podcast, what are you doing? Seriously, we’re still in a national lockdown,  what else are you going to do with your time?

Want some more golden advice? Take a look at last week’s column.


Your College Aunts x

Have any worries?

Here is the link for next week, submit to your heart’s content.