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Seven ways to survive Cambridge as a Northerner

Navigating the North-South divide is tough, but not impossible!


From the tea/dinner debate to the lack of Greggs, life down South has its quirks. The water has floaty bits, Southerners pronounce things incorrectly (it’s true) and the bus driver doesn’t call you ‘love’. But life down here isn’t all bad!  After two terms here, I’ve finalised my tips to fight homesickness and start to love life down South.

1. Invest in a Water Filter

Southerners sometimes get defensive when I point out how grim the water is, but that’s only because their idea of the North is North London, and they have never tasted the crisp, clean, and (crucially) limescale-free water of the North. If you don’t fancy floating bits in your cup of tea (or cuppa, or brew), invest in a water filter jug.

Limescaly kettle (Image Credits: Beca Jenkins)

 2. Say your goodbyes to indie music

Or any decent music for that matter. Take a deep breath and accept that clubs here play Cotton-Eyed Joe. If you miss Northern tunes, Northern Soc has a playlist x

Note: This actually happened, it’s not an exaggeration

3. Accept the price of a kebab

It is what it is. Even if £8+ for a kebab is criminally offensive. Unfortunately, there is nothing to be done – unless anyone wants to start a petition? You have my signature x

I still dream about this kebab (Image Credits: Sophie Tallon)

 4. Buy Ear Plugs

The southern accent gets annoying. Quickly. My name has become Soph-eeeee. My advice? Talk wayyyy more northern than you normally do at home.

Note: No offense to my lovely southerners, I don’t blame you, I know you can’t help it x

5. Buy gravy granules

I don’t care if it’s a stereotype, I will proudly admit I love gravy. Without an oven, it can be hard to incorporate into your meals, so get creative! Oh…and avoid gravy on chips on a night out, unless you enjoy the taste of disappointment.

Desperate times and all that (Image Credits: Sophie Tallon)

6. Sell your going-out clothes on eBay or something

6. Sell your going-out clothes on eBay or something

My lectures are at the catwalk that is Sidgwick, so I see heeled boots, dresses, skirts, and outfits at my 10 am lectures (I have no 9 am lectures – stay jealous). Yet on nights out, jeans are the standard uniform and you won’t see a single PLT dress in sight.

You can even use the money earned to fund nights out so those double vodka cranberries don’t bankrupt you x

7. Throw away your umbrella

There is a reason the College puffers don’t have a hood – they don’t need one.

Cambridge is one of the driest places in the UK, so rain is really rare. I’m a Manchester girl, don’t hate me (yes this is a Sophie Aspin reference), so rain was a near constant in my life. Since coming to Cambridge I no longer worry about my umbrella turning inside out (ick) or looking like a drowned rat when arriving at places.

January in Cambridge!! (Image Credits: Sophie Tallon)

Final Advice

The North-South divide does exist and, on a serious note, it can be really disconcerting to suddenly find yourself in a place where most people sound very different (and the pints can cost a fiver). Never be ashamed of your accent or where you come from, and remember that a posh accent doesn’t equal clever. Cambridge is a fun place to study (most of the time), so look out for events you might be interested in and connect to other Northerners through Northern Soc (@northernsoc on Instagram) if you need support.

Whatever you do, NEVER pronounce ‘a’ like ‘ar’. Please. 

Feature Image Credits: Keira Quirk