Everything Cambridge students need to normalise during online Lent term

How else are we going to survive a third lockdown?

As Covid snatches away the prime of our youth and swaps pub crawls for strained Zoom-eyes, we need avenues to make friends, socialise, and elevate our social skills. Are you looking for ways to bloom socially? Are you tired, lonely, and bored… so bored that you’re willing to read yet another Tab article trying to put a positive spin on the current “global gloom” scenario we are currently living through?

If so, this is just the place for you! Grab your notepads and get reading, we’ve prepared a scientific analysis (supported by illustrative diagrams of course) of 10 social conventions that need to be normalised ASAP so that we can have a vivid and satisfying uni experience:

1. Inviting your Zoom breakout room to a virtual pub night

An illustration of the joys of Zoom inebriation (Photo credits: Lewis Westwood Flood)

Are the four strangers you get placed with in Zoom break-out rooms the only thing keeping you awake through a monologue by a lecturer who sounds like Professor Binns from Harry Potter? Want to go out for a beer with them but don’t want to be a biohazard? Why don’t you invite them to the virtual pub!

Hop on Zoom, get some booze, dim the lights, blast shitty music, and sprinkle your cats vomit around the room for added olfactory authenticity! Exactly like the real thing! Let’s face it, your Zoom breakout rooms probably couldn’t get more awkward anyway, so what’s there to lose?

2. Jealously threatening your returning flatmate’s new household

My failed attempt to look menacing (Photo credits: Inika Murkumbi)

Is only one member of your household returning to Cambridge? Is your college bubbling them into a new, ‘temporary’ household? If so, beware of the slimy newcomers trying to replace you! Your young and naive flatmate might claim it’s just a ‘rebound household’ until you return– but you know better. Those shifty newbies have eyes on more than your gyp.

Whilst this situation can cause strong bouts of jealousy, remember to take a deep breath and resolve this situation the way all household dramas are resolved: with not-so-subtle passive-aggressiveness. 

Make sure you remind them every day of who their *real* household is: clingy texts, posting throwbacks on your Instagram story, photoshopping yourself onto photos of their new household

3. Showing up to supervisions dressed for formals

A snazzy student spices up his supervision via black-tie attire (Photo credits: Liam McClain)

Uncomfortable and pretentious? Check. Presence of a fellow? Check. A bunch of Latin you don’t understand? Check. In these sadly port-deprived times, we must take every opportunity to bust out the gowns and heels and fulfill our formal dreams.

The pyjamas have to go in the wash at some point after all!

4. Sparking drama amongst your stuffed animals and posting the tea on Camfess

Missing your flatmate who comes into your room at 3am to cry about a boy? Bored now that the group chat never has any spicy updates? Dust off that enterprising spirit and realise that you can create DIY drama right here at home! Gather your stuffed animals for a ‘chill, lowkey’ tea party. Plant a doll’s handbag near Stephen the Stuffed Squid so his girlfriend thinks he cheated. Tell Horton the Hippo that Oswald the Octopus thinks he smells.

Write a post about it all on Camfess. Sit back and watch the chaos.

Do not shy away from confrontation (Photo credits: Tom Chandler)

5. Texting people out of the blue


(Photo credits: Camfess)

We’re all bored and locked down and too exhausted by the apocalypse to judge. Reply to memes on people’s Instagram stories like there’s no tomorrow. Send Crushbridges to that person who actually keeps their camera on during lectures (they’re braver than our troops). Maybe we could even bring back the HouseParty app? Haha just kidding…unless??

Sadly, we draw the line at texting your ex – trust us on this one.

6. Building friends out of crafting supplies for Boris-approved seshing

Couple goals <3 (Photo credits: Josh Osman, Grace Wilson)

Traditionalists will tell you that there are great benefits to the conventional ‘alive’ friend– these are rumoured to be warm, conversational, and capable of sophisticated locomotion. Alas, desperate times call for desperate measures and the accomplished visionary knows that cardboard, photo paper, and lots of cello-tape can make far more Covid-appropriate, non-argumentative, and portable flatmates. Sprinkle with perfume or adorn with coloured crepe paper to have them looking snazzy for special occasions!

7. Creating a Zoom dating culture

Don’t forget to set the scene for a romantic dinner (Photo credits: Juju Ganendra)

Covid-19 has changed everything about romance. With (almost) everyone stuck in their flats or homes, the time has come for a vibrant and developed Zoom dating culture. Ask people out on Zoom dates the exact same way you would on regular dates! Download a picture of Market Square off Google Images and set it as your Zoom background! Buy them flowers and chocolates to symbolically offer through the screen then keep them for yourself.

And the best part? You can mute them when they won’t stop explaining Bitcoin or some equally dry topic of conversation to you! If you’re nervous to ask someone out, remember that now is the perfect time to avoid awkward confrontations in town afterward, because you can completely avoid them till Easter if they say no.

8. Deferring birthdays to Easter term (at least)

A fresher courageously defers her January birthday to April (Photo credits: Anna Mahtani)

It’s the only sensible course of action. If you think I’m turning 19 in a global pandemic, you can think again.

9. Using RAG blind date to set up freshers looking for a college spouse

My college fiancés graciously agree to dress up for a Tab article because they are sweethearts (Photo credits: Inika Murkumbi, Aman Vernekar, Beth Brewer)

College marriage has without a doubt been the biggest stress on your mind since James proposed to Lucy at the end of Freshers’ Week. You thought about asking your flatmate at the end of Michaelmas but chickened out. All you want is to settle down and start a (college) family, have three sweet children, raise them with love, and get them extremely drunk at a pub crawl.

Alas! Online Lent has nipped your options in the bud. We need to petition the RAG blind date organisers (or set up a separate blind date system) to include an option for freshers looking to spend Valentines planning their dream wedding with a college fiancé(s).

10. Replacing the concept of BNOC with the concept of BNOS (Big Name On Staircase)

A Selwyn BNOS surveys his kingdom (Photo credits: Ted Kehoe)

This academic year has shrunk our social horizons, so it’s is only fitting that we reassess our titles of honour – how do you really expect us to know anyone outside of our college when we’re only allowed to leave the house for essential reasons? It’s time to rethink the BNOC tradition and be a bit more realistic.

If all goes well, perhaps in Easter term we can introduce the concept of a BNOAB… (Big Name On Accommodation Block).

So now you have 10 ways to spice up your lent term lockdown. If you play your cards right, you might return in Easter term as a BNOC with a significant other and a birthday right around the corner. You never know!

Feature image credits: Inika Murkumbi 

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