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Do you miss out if you go to an outer Cambridge college?

What if I’m not the main character?!


As a Northerner in Cambridge and a student of Homerton college, I am very familiar with being away from the supposed epicentre of everything (London and central Cambridge). Despite the fact Homerton isn’t actually a cross country journey from central Cambridge, it can certainly feel like it, and for Girton I cannot even imagine. Therefore, I am speaking for my fellow outer college people and venting the frustrations that come with attending these colleges. And telling those of you lucky enough to be from a central college what you ought to be grateful for.

My legs hurt

At Homerton or Girton, we don’t have the Emma/Downing privilege of walking straight out of the college and into Spoons or Revs, nor is there the King’s or Christ’s privilege of being able to walk straight into the city centre. At an outer college, nothing is just next door, meaning that a time-consuming cycle or walk is needed to reach your destination. This may just be down to my lazy nature, but these journeys take a toll, especially in Cambridge when you feel you have limited time anyway.

Feeling disconnected

At an outer college, it can often feel like you are the side character in the Cambridge movie. Due to the distance, you are cut off from the Cambridge bubble when you are in these colleges and instead in your own college’s bubble. This can be a positive as the Cambridge bubble can be very intense, so it can be nice to be in the more relaxing “Homerton/Girton Bubble”. However, you can also feel a sense of missing out, as most society events and talks happen in central Cambridge, which is a quick walk for central colleges but a massive time commitment for those from the outer colleges. Therefore, despite it not being impossible to still be connected to the Cambridge bubble and where “everything is going on”, it is a bigger commitment in both time and energy, which can lead you to settle into your own college bubble and potentially not get to explore all Cambridge has to offer.

(Image credits: James Hyde)

Nothing is just on our doorsteps

Central Cambridge has an abundance of high quality pubs, cafes and restaurants all in one space. Those at central colleges can visit the historic Fitzbillies, Jack’s Gelato or the Eagle Pub in just a matter of minutes. Comparably, there is not quite the same proximity to staple Cambridge attractions for a student at Homerton or Girton. Instead of the Cambridge Union, Homerton can brag about its proximity to Cambridge Leisure Park, which doesn’t quite compare. In order for Homerton and Girton students to visit these staple Cambridge attractions, it is not quite a day trip but it is certainly a considerable journey compared to those at central Cambridge colleges.

(Image credits: Emily May)

Potentially less aesthetically pleasing

Cambridge is known for having some of the most beautiful aesthetics in the country, with the Mathematical Bridge, Corpus Clock, Trinity Lane, Green Street and the River Cam just being a few. Most of these are just on the door step of those who live in central colleges or actually in the college itself, meaning everyday life is centred around these beautiful aesthetics. This not quite the case for a Homertonian, with the beautiful aesthetics instead being quite far away, meaning the everyday living experience will not exactly be the same.

(Image credits: Sophie Boxall)

All this being said, it is still a huge privilege to attend Cambridge – whatever college you are at – and the outer colleges do have a close-knit community, which may not be the case at some of the central colleges.