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Seven things I’ve learnt as a Cambridge Fresher

In the words of Danny Dyer – what have I got meself into?


Leaving home. A new city. A mass of new terminology to learn. There are a new set of Freshers’ and as one myself, here are seven things I’ve realised about Cambridge since joining the bubble:

  1. Cambridge isn’t real¬†

Never in my life have I been thrown into a culture as unique as Cambridge’s. Wearing gowns and having formal dinners where lots of important people speak Latin has convinced me that I’m in some kind of fever dream and that reality is simply not a thing here. Or maybe I’ve time-travelled.

Serving cult x (Image credits: April O’Neill)

2. You’re going to lose your CamCard

The bane of my existence. Either you’ll leave it in your room when you nip to the bathroom or, if you’re like me, simply leave it in the UL to never be seen again. My advice is to put a big post-it note on your door saying ‘DON’T FORGET CAMCARD’ just to be safe x

3. Punting is actually very difficult

A quintessential Cambridge activity I thought would be a breeze turned out to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Why is the pole so long? Why is the punt going left when I try and go right? The fact that I’m alive to tell the tale and not still lost along the River Cam is really something.

Trying not to punt into the bridge (Image credits: April O’Neill)

4. Cambridge loves a niche society 

Beyond the obvious choice of joining the Cambridge Tab, the Cambridge Freshers’ Fair introduced me to activities that I didn’t even know existed. Korfball? Tiddlywinks? Sign me up. Literally every interest in the world is represented which is simultaneously so exciting and also slightly bewildering. Who knew Bell Ringing was so hard?

5. You will have a whole new family

I thought family life ended when I waved goodbye to my parents last week, but now I’ve found myself with a new set of college parents, siblings and a subject sibling on the side. Trying to work out my college family tree and questioning whether some random second year is my college uncle is not something I anticipated before coming to Cambridge.

College sisters!! (Image credits: April O’Neill)

6. Clubbing is an…experience

Seeing groups of boys in suits at the club was not on my 2023 bingo card but this is Cambridge – what did I expect?. There have been some interesting song choices (like the Lion King’s ‘Circle of Life’) but I have learnt how special a post-clubbing trip to Gardies and Van of Life is. Also, why did no one mention how hot Revs is?

7. The people make it

Having been in Cambridge for just over a week now, I have already met some of the most amazing (and scarily clever) people in the world. The talent at Cambridge is wild, ranging from someone who taught herself Russian to an Engling who I’m pretty sure might be Chaucer reincarnated. Also, to meet people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds is such a special opportunity. I’m so grateful to have met such lovely people.

Cambridge Freshers’ Week 2023 over and out x

Feature image credits: Lily Owens