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Five things you might not realise about living in Cambridge year round

Moving every item across main site makes life worth living

I’m entering my second year at Cambridge, specifically at St Catharine’s College, and also my second year living away from home. For a lot of people, this means living in student accommodation during term-time and returning each holiday. For me, it means living in university accommodation year-round. So, what’s it like?

1. Moving your belongings across your college site (or just across the hall)

Sometimes you even get upgraded to an amazing room! (Image credits: Lisa Hana Delaney)

You might think that if you spend every day of the calendar year living in college accommodation, you’re able to keep your belongings inside the room that you pay for termly. Unfortunately, this is false. Just as you have to move yourself out of your room at the end of each term, you have to move every last one of your belongings too.

Sometimes this means moving everything down the hall, into room 09 from 03. More often, however, it means moving across the main college site—so you’ll do well to get used to how the wheelbarrows in your college work, since you’ll be getting very close to them (and may wind up spilling everything you own onto the floor of Main Court mid-way through a graduation ceremony).

2. Making friends with your conference guest neighbours

Loud parties? As if! In the holidays, you’ve got to be as quiet as you possibly can, because your next-door neighbours are no longer fellow students, but professors from across the globe who kip for the night, or three, next to your temporary room.

There are few things more humiliating than trotting to the toilet tipsy at two in the morning, only to come face-to-face with a professor from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens.

3. No meals in college! The canteen shuts

When hall closes times get tough (Image credits: LT Stockmann)

If you can’t cook, hopefully you’re rich…because the canteen won’t be serving your meals like it does in term-time. Brunch is a distant memory. My least favourite experience here involved a Sunday morning, some vague thoughts of food, and the sight of a wedding party blocking my path from my temporary room to the canteen (and yes, Catz put up a sign informing us that we were banned from vacating our buildings until the wedding was over). Learn to cook, or starve.

4. How quiet and empty of students the city is

Exhausted by the student-sodden city centre? Stay here in the holidays; after a week you will weep for a non-tourist soul. You find a total of zero friendly faces, and if that weren’t enough for you, you can revel in having to pay full price in every single shop available.

Kiss your student discounts goodbye, and get ready to scoff your full-price Itsu rice box as you walk past the horde of tourists photographing your college (and yourself, it seems, if you’re particularly underdressed). Revel in the zoo-animal feeling, or cry.

5. Your faculties are shut

Deserted Sedgwick site (Image credits: Lisa Hana Delaney)

Though it may be a shamefully ‘studious’ take, the feeling of walking into your faculty building to find yourself the only human around is unrivalled, and not in a good way. Though it may seem relaxing, fun, and elite, the feeling of entering the building at 1pm and finding nobody present—librarian, director, or cleaner—is soul-sucking. You may as well just go back to bed.

Thus, I conclude my short description of living in Cambridge year-around. Brave it if you dare and make sure to befriend your temporary neighbours.