(Image credits: Sal Widdicombe)

Six things I learnt about Cambridge when visiting other universities

The Cambridge quirks become so obvious!


There are over 160 universities in the UK but I would hedge my bets and say that Cambridge is definitely one of the most unique. This became massively obvious to me when visiting friends from home at different universities. The downsides of being at this strange university suddenly become very obvious, yet with a bit of thought so did the amazing things about Cambridge. I have therefore made a comprehensive list of what I realised about Cambridge when visiting other universities.

1. Cambridge is tiny

When visiting a big city like Sheffield I realised that Cambridge is more like a town than a city. Nowhere a student wants to get to will take more than 20 minutes (sorry Girton). Contrastingly, in other universities club nights can be an hour+ walk compared to next-door for central Cambridge colleges. It would seem Cambridge’s small size is actually a big blessing (not a phrase used often).

2. Cambridge club nights are wonderful in their own way

To the shock of many, Cambridge was recently named the seventh best night out in the UK. I would say this sounds about right, even though they are a complete switch-up to everywhere else I’ve ever been clubbing. There’s less “going Low Low Low” and “under my umbrella, brella, brella” and more indie classics from my experience in Sheffield and Manchester.

Additionally, the amount of sweat you’re drenched in is significantly reduced in other cities compared to after a Rumboogie. Despite this, Cambridge club nights have a wonderful amount of weekly chaos guaranteed which makes for a fun night.

3. No ovens make our lives a lot harder

I know there are some colleges that have the luxury of an oven, but from a Homertonian who has nothing but a stove and a microwave, I would love to have an oven like most students at other unis do. Despite the common, blasphemous belief held by a few people (everyone I know) that I cannot cook.

The amount of times  I have just wanted to throw a pizza in the oven and not been able to has been the bane of my existence this year. People at other universities can be as lazy as I want to be and not have to develop culinary abilities to successfully use a stove. I am simply fed up of cooking plain pasta and accompanying it with a tin of tuna – to the disgust of everyone on my floor.

4. Cambridge traditions are SO strange but equally brilliant

If you have ever tried explaining that your dad is a second year who does maths and you bumped into your mum at Revs, you will inevitably be met with confused looks. The concept of a college family is baffling to anyone not involved in the niches of Cambridge culture.

Other universities frown upon flatcest, but I raise you college family “incest”. Beat that normal unis! The extensive family trees that can be discovered at drunken bops and sweaty family time spent on the sticky floors at Lolas, whilst very VERY strange, are absolutely class and hilarious to try and explain.

5. The college system is great

The collegiate system is amazing for quite a few reasons. First of all, socially the collegiate system is really helpful. Colleges feel like communities where people see each other quite frequently and roughly everyone knows everyone. It becomes so easy to do things with friends such as go to the college bar or the JCR. There is also always something going on within the college which is easy to attend and only a few steps from your bed.

In other unis, accommodation is more segregated, limiting the amount of people you will meet meaning you have to rely on societies more to make friends. Furthermore, colleges act as mini universities with individual sports clubs and societies instead of only being university wide. This means that there is so much to get involved in on our doorstep which is a lot less of an effort than in other universities.

6. It’s a great privilege to be here

I often find myself complaining about Cambridge with there being a lot of work and a lot more time doing “university” instead of “uni”. But there are so many great opportunities that only Cambridge can offer.

Weekly formals are an opportunity to have a luxurious night for a cheap price which other universities do not offer as frequently. One of my favourite things so far has been inviting friends from home to a formal and realising how insane it is that we can get dressed up and have a candlelit dinner every week?! These types of things need to be taken advantage of by Cambridge students as they are a real privilege that many other students don’t get.

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