Your guide to surviving Cambridge Freshers’ Week

The excuse ‘I’m just a silly fresh’ will be your best friend


Congratulations to all of you who met your offers to study at Cambridge. I wish I was in your position right now. Nothing is better than that pre-uni trip to Ikea and being able to use the excuse that you’re just a ‘silly fresh’. Whilst you’re all in for a massive treat, embarking on a new adventure, making first impressions and meeting new people can be extremely daunting. Here are some tips and tricks to guide you through your first week at Cambridge. 

Throw yourself into everything, head first

Freshers’ week is one of the only times you’ll have the opportunity to try a million new things in the space of seven days (or just under). University is the perfect place to try out the sport you’ve always wanted to do, or to make your theatrical debut, so why not start in Freshers’ week? Cambridge is a particularly good place to start something new since there are both university-level and college-level sports and societies, which welcome newcomers into an encouraging environment. If you’re considering trying a new sport or society, do it. 

Trying a new sport (Image credits: Kitty Henderson)

Second and third years aren’t as scary as they may seem 

I remember my first week at university and, although everyone was lovely, for some reason I felt inferior and  worried that I’d make a bad impression on the older years. However, as I progressed through the year, the people who I was initially intimidated by became my friends and I realised that they knew what it was like to be in my shoes. So, although older years may seem scary, remember, we were all freshers once. 

We all matriculated once (Image credits: Freya John)

Go to the Freshers’ fair/ sports fair 

Val Thorens (Image credits: Freya John)

Yes, you might end up being haunted by emails from a random society for the rest of the year, but attending the societies and sports fairs is a must. I discovered the incredible Varsity Ski Trip at the Freshers’ fair and, after going to the sports fair and chatting to members of the team, I regained the confidence to join a sport that I hadn’t done for a long time. That is why I urge you to go to these events, you may find something new, or rekindle your love for something that used to be a big part of your life!

Be prepared to have the same conversation over and over again

“What college are you at? What are you studying? Where are you from?” If you’re lucky, you might even get a “What A Levels did you do?” You will get asked these questions many, many times. But small talk is one of the most important parts of forming new friendships and meeting people. While it may seem mundane, the quality of your conversations will only get better. The only way is up!

Friendships take time 

People will tell you this again and again: not everyone you meet during the first week of uni is going to be your best friend. You might be lucky enough to sit next to your future spouse at Matriculation, but the likelihood of that happening is low. Being serenaded in your college chapel during your Matriculation ceremony may seem like a fairytale, but it doesn’t mean that friendships fall into place like one. New people will enter your life each term, and people who you didn’t even realise existed in Michaelmas can end up becoming your close friends. Take it easy, things always work out. 

The gang who didn’t meet on Freshers’ week (Image credits: Anna Still)

You don’t have to drink 

You will often hear how boozy Freshers’ week can be. Inevitably, yes, for some it is. It’s likely your first time living away from home, you have free rein. However, if drinking is not your thing but you still want to make new friends, then don’t worry. You shouldn’t feel any pressure: the majority of events won’t include any drinking, and going out sober is just as great (mostly because you won’t have to suffer from hangxiety the morning after a Freshers’ night at Mash). 

Cherish Matriculation 

Matriculation, as I mentioned before, is mental. If I’m being honest I had no clue what was going on. My experience really confirmed the Hogwarts-esque nature of Cambridge, so this is an event I suggest you look forward to and make the most of.

Matriculation ceremony (Image credits: Freya John)

Be yourself

It’s a cliché but it’s true. If you invent a fake personality,  you will be exhausted trying to maintain this second character, and the friends you make won’t actually be right for you. Just be yourself, even if you know you’re quirky, because it’s better to be strange than boring.  Good luck freshers. I promise you will have the BEST time.

Oh and, one last piece of advice: join The Cambridge Tab.

Featured image credit: Anna Still

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