Forget matriculation, the most formative part of freshers’ is having sweat drip on you from the Lola’s ceilingEmily Lawson-Todd


Right about now Cambridge is peeping out from under a duvet of hibernation, fresh-faced to incoming eyes. She will be our Mother Earth for at least 72 weeks, and our alma mater for life. So how do I defend a blurry, sleepless lonely mess of the first one? Hangovers and a fear of the college laundromat severely limit the chance of feeling fresh in any sense of the word. No lectures leave body clocks unwound. Then again, no lectures mean no alarm to scare you awake. Days are gappy, nights are full. Yellowing leaves are buoyant on the branches and summer’s jetlagged breeze airs out the town. Time is dedicated to a different sort of learning.

Starting with matriculation, there’s novelty in every syllable. Hundreds of penguins in Hogwarts gowns waddle for the college photo. This is most likely the first and last time you’ll see everyone together. Savour this, the rare feeling of your heels on the grass and the taste of free dinner!

It’s warm enough to enjoy a first punt or post Rumboogie walk home as you exchange interview stories. There’s a naive buzz about studying just your favourite subject and every stranger is dying for you to say ‘hello’. A name in the college group chat offering to walk to the freshers fair becomes a blind date or a college marriage.

Neo-gothic buildings seem new, untainted by (academic) all-nighters. Rowdy chapel chimes retain their charm. There’s no need to drag anyone to the club or a college swap - they go merrily because for a week everyone is ‘when in Rome’.

As we come up to this first pancake of a week, take Cambridge by the hand and surprise yourself. Join Ultimate Frisbee and bolt by week 3. The world is your cloister… at least until the plague hits.


As an incoming third year and two-times freshers’ week veteran, I can say that I hold many fond memories of my time at uni. Freshers’ week makes up very few of them. Like every other 18-year-old in the country, I envisioned freshers’ week as a magical week of partying where I would meet all of my best friends and somehow not wreck my liver, immune system, bank account, or dignity. I still have regular nightmares that I am sitting in a student kitchen being asked by a phys natsci who I’ll probably never see again what my name is and what subject I do. Oh the joys. Later on in this nightmare we’ll probably play an excruciating out-of-date card game to “break the ice”. All it achieves is proving to me that ‘Cards Against Humanity’ isn’t funny to anyone who’s mental age has surpassed 15.


Mountain View

Easter Term: Exam-fuelled gaslighting or summer freedom?

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you’ll probably spend the first week of university oscillating between cleaning up the sick of Hugo, 18, whose mum still buys him jeans from Next, and curling up in a ball in your room popping strepsils like there’s no tomorrow, googling ‘can I die from a sore throat? HELP PLEASE’.

The best week of your life? Maybe so at places like Manchester and Newcastle where the nightlife is actually half-decent, but you’re kidding yourself if hacking up a lung from sharing a Lost Mary with a random historian from Caius in a random tiki-themed nightclub in East Anglia is your personal university highlight. That’s not to say freshers’ week is all bad - in fact, I still look on it fondly (well, as fondly as you can look at a photo of yourself hunched over a toilet dressed as Ed Sheeran for your college’s alphabet bop). You meet some of your closest friends, experience the magic of old architecture, and get what is probably your first taste of independence. But all these things aren’t unique to freshers’, and it’s far easier to fall in love with a place like Cambridge and experience it fully when you’re not reeling from a 4-day hangover/ evil flu/ general feeling of overwhelmedness. The best is yet to come, I promise.