10 ways to pretend you’re still in Cambridge this term

Stuck at home and missing Cambridge? We’ve got you!

As the university moves all teaching for Lent term online and the majority of students have been told to remain at home, we’re all lamenting losing a term of the Cambridge experience (read: having an essay crisis in your college library, rather than your kitchen table.)

While the quirks of college accommodation and the bustle of King’s Parade aren’t easily recreated, we have a few ways for you to pretend you’re still in Cambridge:

1. Wear. That. Stash.

I had to crop out the stain on my jumper (Image credit: Zac Copeland-Greene)

We all know that the first rule of Cambridge stash is that you don’t wear the stash outside of Cambridge. But if Toope can waive the residency requirement for a term, we can definitely waive this one – it is unprecedented times after all!

It’s a compulsory part of lockdown to wear the same three outfits on repeat (washing them in-between, of course) so why not use this opportunity to dedicate your wardrobe to your college stash? You’ll catch me showing my college pride all term long, even if the only person seeing it is my cats.

2. Have fun with your Zoom background

An intellectual backdrop for an intellectual bloke (Image credit: Zac Copeland-Greene and Quintus Lollius Urbicus via Creative Commons Licence)

One of the joys of Michaelmas was showing off to all my supervisors just how well designed my college room was, behind me on Zoom. Alas, as if the thought of doing term from home couldn’t get any more boring, polaroid pictures and carefully arranged plants have been replaced with bland kitchen windows. Fortunately, the lovely folk at Zoom thought ahead and provided us with their virtual background feature!

Whether showcasing your own photography or your Google Image skills, play with your backgrounds to make your supervisors think you might actually still be in Cambridge: are you in your college room? Sat in Cindies?(RIP) Floating mysteriously above King’s? Possibilities are endless. Who needs Cambridge after all when you can have zoombridge?

3. Take a trip to Sainsbury’s (and write yourself a Crushbridge)

Did you say essential shopping or shopping essentials? (Image credit: Zac Copeland-Greene)

Essential shopping is still allowed during current restrictions, so why not make the most of it? Offer to do your household’s shopping and head to your closest Sainsbury’s. Don’t forget to bring your college mask and puffer jacket to show all your fellow shoppers how stylish you are, as you pause in the snacks aisle.

Of course, no trip to Mainsbury’s would be complete without the possibility of receiving a Crushbridge, and while there may not be other Cambridge students there to admire your style, you were there and you appreciated it. So how about, for one term and one term only, we start writing our own “at home” Crushbridges: “ZCG @ G, Your college mask was the highlight of my trip to a suburban Sainsbury’s in South Manchester”.

4. Teach your family the Cambridge lingo

The look of pain as I explain for the 10th time what my DoS is (Image credit: Zac Copeland-Greene)

One of the things we take for granted in Cambridge is this strange student dialect we’ve developed. It’s easy to forget that many people have no idea what a DoS, a gyp, or even what an ASNAC is. When explaining my degree to my family during the holidays, I normally use the full terms, because I can’t be bothered to explain, but I don’t think I can handle doing that for all of Lent term. (Why would I want to use six syllables when I can use one?)

So why not sit your non-Cambridge household members down and give them a language lesson, using The Cambridge Tab’s guide, of course. Before you know it they’ll be making Camfess submissions and watching lectures on 2x speed and it will be like you’ve never left!

5. Go for a 10 minute bike ride five minutes before your supo

It’s hard for a Girtonian to go so long without a real bike (Image credit: Zac Copeland-Greene and EmojiOne via Creative Commons License)

There’s nothing more quintessentially Cambridge than riding your bike around the town. Daily exercise outside is still allowed and strongly encouraged for your mental wellbeing. So why not grab a bike and pretend you’re cycling down Trinity Street (please make sure you’re following the one-way system, it’s a real bugbear of mine!) Bonus points if you ask you siblings to jump in front of you every now and again so you can relive the all-too-frequent near-death experiences with tourists.

Alternatively, if like me you left all your worldly possessions in Cambridge, including your bike, you can still get your Camexercise (I don’t think that’ll catch on) by choosing a place near your home, and briskly walking towards it, pretending you’re late for a supervision.

6. Recreate the Botanical Garden or make your very own FitwilliHOME museum

I love how leafy this leaf is (Image credit: Zac Copeland-Greene)

Being some of the most cultured and worldly people that there are, we all loved filling our weekend embracing the university museums and Botanic Gardens: back in the old days, if you couldn’t get into Fitzbillie’s, you could always try the Fitzwilliam – remember to show your camcard for free entry!

Now that they’re closed, you could always try to get your own museum fix. Why not grab the oldest thing in your house and post it on Instagram (my dad’s PS2 dates back to the year 2000). Failing that, you could always check out some of the university museums’ online exhibitions. Or if nature is more your thing, why not head to a garden centre and start your own botanical garden? You’re going to need to replace all of those plants you left in Cambridge anyway…

7. Cook like you’re in a gyp

You know you’re a student if you get this excited over a half-empty fridge (Image credit: Zac Copeland-Greene)

One thing you might not think you’d miss is whatever limited cooking resources you could find in your gyp. Nevertheless, I bet you still do – at least it was an excuse to eat nothing but pasta everyday! Why not try and set yourself the “Gyp Challenge”: cooking in your kitchen using only the resources you would find in your gyp.

No oven in college? Don’t use it at home!
Couldn’t find a knife so had to cut something with a spoon? Do it at home!
Don’t wash things up for days and just leave them in the sink? Please don’t do that.

If you’re struggling for ideas and want to use this lockdown as an opportunity to hone your cooking skills to impress your housemates next term, make sure to check out our Trip to the Gyp series for some lockdown inspiration!

8. Host an informal formal

Other takeaway brands are available (Image credit: Zac Copeland-Greene)

Whether or not your college had attempted them during Michaelmas, one thing we’re sure you’ve been missing is a good old-fashioned formal hall. So why not give it a try at home?

Get someone else to cook or get a takeaway (failing that, you can always reheat leftovers for a candid uni experience), light some candles, say a Latin grace and any meal instantly becomes a formal. If you want to add a touch of class but left your gown in Cambridge, black plastic bin bags can make a great alternative (but remember to reuse and recycle responsibly!)

9. Take a virtual stroll through central Cambridge

I forgot how to do the English (Image credit: Zac Copeland-Greene)

With all this staying at home, you might be worried that you might soon forget what Cambridge actually looks like, or how to get to the University Library. Why not reincorporate travelling into your days by making those journeys via Google Street View? Just before that 9am lecture, why not replicate your morning walk/cycle to the Faculty online? And when taking a weekend off, there’s no excuse not to take a visit up to Girton without even leaving your chair.

And if you pine for the hustle and bustle of the pre-Covid days, you could always watch a vlog…or 20 from the student vloggers of days past.

10. Keep calm and carry on Camfessing

The author can neither confirm nor deny that he submitted this meme (Credit: Camfess via Facebook)

Like chewing gum under benches, there are some things in life that will always be there. More than 14,000 people like Camfess’ Facebook page (whether or not they actually like it is another story). In trying times, memes, rants and some really candid, heartful confessions make their way onto that page.

As a fresher in a pandemic, for me this page is the closest I have come to feeling a part of the Cambridge community. So wherever you may be this Lent term, Camfess may be the most normal Cambridge thing to happen to you. (Other Cambridge Confession pages are available)

There you have it! Our guide living your best Cambridge life from home. The best part of Cambridge is your friends, so make sure you reach out to each other, and before you know it, we’ll all be back in Cambridge.

Related stories recommended by this writer:

•Movies and McDonald’s: How to liven up your lockdown

•Mental health and no internet are ‘permitted reasons’ to return to Cambridge, Toope confirms

•A very unqualified guide to the perils of playwriting in a national lockdown

Feature image credits: Zac Copeland-Greene and mariosp via Creative Commons Licence