Disposable cameras, indisposable memories: Looking back on Michaelmas through rose-tinted lenses
We promise this article isn’t sponsored by Boots and their £7.99 disposable camera
We Cambridge students are obsessed with recording our terms: from ‘one-second-of-the-days’ on King’s Parade, to aesthetic instagram highlights of trips to Grantchester and end of term Facebook posts which require at least a two-hour brainstorming session to think of a Michaelmas-related pun (or maybe this is just me and I need to accept I’m just not funny). I include myself in this: my friends can hardly come within a five-metre radius of me before I shout “wait let me get a photo of you quick.”
You can make all the arguments in the world about how we need to live life in reality, not just through a camera lens and how not everything needs to be recorded, but when push comes to shove, having visual reminders of your uni days to keep forever is pretty cool.
Looking through old photos and remembering brighter days has got me through this pandemic and there’s no greater joy than those “remember when” moments. After all, how else will your future kids be able to post your matriculation photo on their Instagram/Snapchat/whatever social media people will be using in 20 years to brag about how pretty you were?
Luckily, our future kids are going to be spoilt for choice in this department and judging from the photos that were sent in, they will be well worthy of bragging rights. The Tab asked Cambridge students to send in their favourite disposable and film photos from last term and I honestly cannot stop smiling:
October came, and after months at home watching TikTok videos and baking banana bread, we got to return (or arrive!) in Cambridge. Matriculation may have looked a bit different this year: from photoshopped pictures to outdoor picnics, but that didn’t stop freshers from getting those classic matric pics.
Erin Vasaya-Neville told The Tab: “Although matriculation was a slightly awkward socially distanced situation, it still felt special wearing our gowns and knowing that we were officially part of Cambridge!
“Michaelmas really had its major highs and lows with isolation being quite tricky, but overall I can safely say that Cambridge has become my happy place and I can’t wait to get back (hopefully!) for Easter!”
A term of marquees
This photo is the stuff of future historians’ dreams: the marquee, the screen panel, the social distancing. Truly, this photo could only have been taken in 2020 (or 2021, but let’s not mention that).
The photo was taken by Lily Ingram, of the Peterhouse marquee on Halloween, where “a ticketed event consisting of free drinks, a slice of pumpkin pie and a themed quiz, all courtesy of our wonderful JCR ents officer and the college catering team” was hosted.
Lily told The Tab: “This was the only in-person JCR event we had last term so everyone whipped out their disposable cameras to capture the moment. The marquee was kinda cold and felt like it was about to take off into the night whenever there was a gust of wind, but the atmosphere of togetherness made up for the weather.
“Coincidentally, this was also the day that Boris announced the November lockdown, so this definitely felt like a last hurrah.”
Michaelmas saw a much quieter Cambridge than usual…
When Green Day wrote “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” I wasn’t really anticipating it to be applicable to the main streets of Cambridge during term-time, but life continues to surprise you.
Neve Atkinson told The Tab the photo was taken when “me and my friend got up early on a Saturday morning to go on a walk to Grantchester.
“Michaelmas definitely wasn’t ideal but it was good to be back with friends and in Cambridge. I miss it a lot.”
…But it wasn’t any less beautiful
Honestly, I’m just grateful for the opportunity to take my silly little photos without being obstructed by about a million tourists.
Covid may have forced us to be two-metres apart from 99 per cent of the world, but what does that matter when you’re living with the one per cent of the people you love the most?
Sophie Adam told The Tab: “I have no clue what we were actually doing in this photo aha.
“Last term was definitely better than I expected. Honestly, coming in and out of lockdown and isolation really made us appreciate the random evenings (like this one) which we did get to spend with our mates.”
Friday Night Dinner
Last term saw many of us making more use of our gyps than ever before, with Miriam telling The Tab this photo was taken during a Jewish Friday Night Dinner during Michaelmas.
Reflecting on Michaelmas, Miriam said: “We tried our best and made happiness for ourselves when the world was ending in many ways”. Honestly, I have never heard such an accurate description of the term.
Sit-down Cindies seshes
Thinking back to when we used to pre at 5pm (!!!) for a night-out, which saw us tucked up in bed by 11pm, feels like another world. But it happened, and the photos serve as evidence.
Louis, a Peterhouse fresher, told The Tab: “This is my household at our first Wednesday Cindies, it was so much fun and definitely lived up to our expectations even if it was sat down.
“I would say more but I don’t remember much of the night to be honest.”
Reflecting on his first term at Cambridge, he said: “I loved Michaelmas even though it wasn’t the normal Cambridge experience. I got to meet so many great people and we made so many memories.”
Try to hold back your tears as you realise we may never hear Mama D’s iconic instructions ever again.
Spending your entire student loan on Deliveroo
If there was one thing that was in abundance this term, it was takeaways. Whether you were trying to provide excitement to your isolation, struggling with the loss of hall-cooked food, or missed the 10pm curfew of Van of Life, Deliveroo was always the answer – although our bank accounts may not agree!
Annika told The Tab: “Michaelmas was interesting – a lot of fun and I made some amazing friends, although it was odd for the first term of uni to be so different to the expectation.
“I wouldn’t change any of it for the world and I can’t wait to get back to Cam.”
Speaking of food, Hall looked a bit different this year:
This photo was taken by Tilda, in the cloisters at Sidney Sussex, on the way to getting hall food.
She told The Tab: “Michaelmas was a tense experience because of the constant threat of Covid and isolation, but I think we really made the best of it and appreciated the community around us as much as we could.”
Spooky Santas and creepy cats
Don’t be fooled by the deceiving outfits, this photo was, in fact, taken on Halloween. After all, when else would you see Paris Hilton, the devil, a cat and Santa in the same room together?
Jessica Graham told us: “Overall I really enjoyed Michaelmas, much more than I was expecting to, and made some great friends and had some fun nights out before lockdown.
“I really wish I didn’t take it so much for granted now.”
Here’s to hoping for the return of Halloween nights out for Halloween 2021!
Trans day of remembrance
November bought Trans Awareness Week, with many colleges organising events or displays to show solidarity with the Cambridge trans community.
This photo was taken of Caius College, where many students had flown the trans flags from their windows. At the time, Lily Danson told The Tab: “We wanted to do something to show our solidarity and support for trans students both at Caius and across Cambridge.
“It was so heartwarming and, ironically, I think we raised more awareness and made a greater impact than if the flag had just been on the flagpole.”
Books, books and more books
In case your weekly reading list wasn’t quite enough for you, at Cambridge we’re blessed with quaint open-air bookstalls. This photo belongs to Miranda Lam who said: “Four quid for Thai food or for a book?” which is surely only a dilemma a Cambridge student would find difficult.
She also told The Tab: “Michaelmas term was only bearable because I had the loveliest people in my household” and that she was “missing everyone dearly!”
From daytime walks…
Caitlin Judd told us this photo was “taken on a trip to the Botanic Gardens during lockdown two, in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to escape an essay crisis.”
Still, as they say “time you enjoy wasting isn’t wasted time” and honestly, who cares about handing in an essay in time when you have such aesthetic photos to show for it.
…To night-time strolls
Attending a hill college is a good way to get your 10,000 daily steps in at least. Alice, a Churchill fresher, told The Tab: “The photo was taken on the long trek back to college when pubs kicked us out at 10pm, although we made it only as far as Senate House when this photo was taken – ironically the building where I will (hopefully) graduate from in three years!”
I didn’t dare ask what happened after this photo was taken but Alice did rather ominously add: “Michaelmas 2020 has evidently bred a generation of freshers who can’t handle their drink and have never seen the inside of a club past 10!” Honestly, the less questions the better.
Finding your feet (and friends)
Mahera Sarkar told us the photo was taken the last night before lockdown, and that “overall, Michaelmas was really enjoyable. I found a solid group of friends and managed the workload.”
I may not be able to relate to the latter, but there’s truly no better feeling that those small moments of happiness.
Have yourself a merry little Bridgemas
Nothing, not even a global pandemic, can stop Cambridge students from celebrating Bridgemas. Our traditions may have been changed this year, but the Christmas spirit remained everywhere to be seen. From virtual carol concerts and walks to see the christmas lights, to spending hours meitculously preparing your household Bridgemas dinner (or getting a takeaway as this household did!)
This photo was taken by Jem Wickham, from Caius, who told The Tab: “It was a really difficult Michaelmas due to a family loss and I ended up spending the whole term/lockdown in an unexpected household.
“The silver lining was that everyone was so lovely! We sent the term off in the best way with Bridgemas takeaway hall, gowns and bananagrams. Happiest end to an awful term.”
‘Does anyone fancy a trip to Grantchester?’
And of course, no term is complete without a trip to Grantchester. We may not have been able to break this up with a cheeky pint (or two) at the pub, but it still remains one of the most beautiful places in Cambridge.
Leeza Isaeva, an Emma student, told us: “We stayed in college a few days after term ended so we could celebrate a friend’s birthday by going to Grantchester, a really lovely day to end a strange but fun term.”
When thinking of our time at Cambridge, it can be easy to remember the lockdown restrictions, the essay crises and the feeling that you spent about a quarter of your life queuing outside of pret for a free coffee. But amidst all the global gloom, the pictures we snapped along the way serve as a reminder of the happiness and small joys around us.
Feature image credit: Erin Visaya-Neville