9 things you only know if you live in a non-central Cambridge College

(And I’m not just talking about Girton)


As term is drawing to a close, the sun is starting to shine and national Covid restrictions are slowly easing, I’ve finally managed to convince some of my friends to come to Girton.

As we wander up Castle Hill one turns to me and says “But surely, Zac, living so far away from town, you’re missing out on the ‘Cambridge experience'”. I reply and say that I do indeed have a ‘Cambridge experience’, it’s just a ‘different’ kind.

And it got me thinking, what are all the wonderful things only people at non-central colleges get to experience, and how could I write a Tab article about it?

1-3: How to ride/repair/stay safe on a bike

Me and my beloved velocipede (Credit: Fiona Gibbs)

A bike is a classic Cambridge symbol, and especially so for those of us who have to commute into town, your bike is more than a symbol, it’s a life line. As a result, we need to learn how to do more than just pedal.

Any good Girtonian or Fitzbillie always wears a helmet (because safe cycling is sexy) and knows that Trinity and Sidney streets are a one-way system, even for bikes!

Even our Colleges understand the significance of biking to our daily lives. As for knowing basic repair, Girton’s JCR even has a Bike Rep Officer who specialises in supporting good biking practice.

4: How to cook in a kitchen bigger than a gyp

Why does it look like I’m on Come Dine With Me? (Credit: Fiona Gibbs)

One of the Tab’s shining stars, the Trip to the Gyp column supports the average Cambridge student whip up a meal in what limited conditions a gyp provides.

But at the far-away colleges, we have hobs and even ovens, allowing us to make even greater masterpieces! Although, that hasn’t stopped me still being unable to cook pasta.

5: What it’s like with no Tourists around

Its Where’s Wally, except it’s me in a Green College Sweater (Credit: Fiona Gibbs)

Before the global pandemic walking down King’s Parade was like a maze due to the crowds of tourists. We’ve all heard stories of the ones that found their way into some poor student’s bedroom. I imagine that’s a little bit annoying.

But have you ever seen a tourist at Churchill? No? They don’t know what they’re missing (or where to find it).

6: Supermarkets that aren’t Mainsburys

I once bought a Caterpillar Cake here, if you remember (Credit: Fiona Gibbs)

You can’t scroll through Crushbridge without seeing the word Mainsbury’s at least 6 times. But if you want my opinion, it’s greatly overrated.

Nothing will beat the grandeur of Eddington’s Sainsbury’s, the value of Aldi or the ease of Girton’s Co-op. Admittedly though, I still don’t where Homertonians shop.

7: What walking on grass feels like

We are also allowed to lie on the grass as well (Credit: Fiona Gibbs)

Unless you’re a fellow (or a duck) there are many lawns in Cambridge that are out of bounds. This is probably due to some ancient customs that are part of being at such a prestigious institution.

Since the non-central colleges happen to be a little bit younger, they take a more relaxed view to grass, namely that they allow students to relax on grass because it is a nice thing to do.

8: Other people in college

The irony is, these aren’t actually real people at my college (Credit: Fiona Gibbs)

A controversial one, but hear me out. When it’s not so easy for you to just take a stroll into town, you very often find yourself being forced to head to college bar instead. A college like Girton is well known for fostering its own close-knit college community.

Plus, far out colleges generally tend to have more on-site accommodation so there are more people on site for you to just bump into.

9: What it feels like to be under 25 and vaccinated

I’m smiling from all the antibodies (Credit: Fiona Gibbs)

At the time of writing, under 25s with no underlying health conditions are yet to be offered the Coronavirus Vaccine nationally by the NHS. However, some local vaccination centres have been able vaccines to the over 18s.

One such centre has been Huntingdon Road Surgery, which in the past week has begun to offer the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine to its registered patients over 18. This has included students from Girton, Murray Edwards, Fitzwilliam and Churchill. Even some second years living at Trinity Hall’s Wychfield site, have been offered it as well.

Who’s laughing at being far away now?

“O the Backs, Punts and the Parade by King’s, you can keep all that, I’d rather be off cycling.” – An Ode to my College

Feature Image Credit: Fiona Gibbs