View from St Mary's Church: "If you’re having a tough week, at least you get to cry around sandstone and stained glass" Holly Platt-Higgins

Just as Jesus would have wanted, the Easter break is a chance for most of Cambridge’s students to head off to the slopes and celebrate being free from perpetual deadlines and sleep deprivation. For my own safety (and for the lack of a second home in Méribel), I spent the break firmly rooted in the Kentish countryside, wasting money I didn’t have at the pub with old school friends.

All the people I’ve grown up with are doing completely different things with their lives now: some are finishing uni, some are travelling, some dropped out, some have jobs, one has a baby, and one moved to China. Being home always makes me realise how much of a bubble Cambridge really is. Enclosed by dreaming spires it’s often quite difficult to remember the rest of the world is still out there, waiting, and completely indifferent to your current Cambridge-size crisis.

“From C-Sunday forward, it’s all tunnel vision and library living until the sweet relief of May Week”

Last term, internships seemed to be the hot topic, the be-all-and-end-all among many second years. The holy trinity of McKinsey, BCG and Bain seemed to dominate dinner conversation and anxieties about applications and rejections somehow poured into my daily life. It’s highly infectious, all that pressure and expectation; even though I hadn’t applied for anything and didn’t plan on it, I was suddenly Shanghaied into being worried about internships. Should I be applying for this stuff? Was there any part of me that wanted to be a consultant? What the hell did BCG even stand for?

Coming back to the bubble for exam term is effectively a death sentence for most people’s perspectives. From C-Sunday forward, it’s all tunnel vision and library living until the sweet relief of May Week. Even for those of us definitely not aiming anywhere near a first, the insulation of our environments creates this alternate reality where current affairs consist of exam timetables and revision schedules.

“I don’t think anyone has asked me what my favourite colour is since I was about six”

Oddly, a friend came into my room last term and, both of us having complained about work for a long time, he said, “we always talk about work. Let’s talk about something else. What’s your favourite colour?” I don’t think anyone has asked me what my favourite colour is since I was about six, but it was such a good question; such an unrelated question which, for a moment, pulled me out of the Cambridge haze.

So, I thought, I’d start collecting interesting things I’d overheard in and around the ’Bridge and try and keep the real world slightly closer this term.

Things to remember this week:

  • A little girl, aged about 3, in a pink raincoat, rode on a scooter next to her dad down King’s Parade. They weren’t talking for a long time but then he turned, looked down at her and said, “It’s quite good that you’re around so many beautiful buildings; you won’t realise it until you’re older.”

Cambridge is an incredible place to live; most university towns do not look like this. If you’re having a tough week, at least you get to cry around sandstone and stained glass. Maybe you won’t realise it until you’re older, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever live somewhere so steeped in history and memories at this place.

  • On the train to from Cambridge to King’s Cross, a skinny girl with peroxide hair must have been heading off to go travelling. She kicked her case under the seat and then her grandpa gripped one of her arms in each hand, lovingly squeezed her and said, “If you want to come home, at any point, you come home. There’s no shame in it.”

Although most people in Cambridge are not well wired to deal with failure or falling short of our own expectations, things not going the way you wanted or expected, well, it’s really not the end of the world. Making the decision to try is often the hardest part anyway so, if you give it your best shot and it doesn’t work out, there’s no shame in that.

  • A tall guy with dark brown hair and a denim jacket, was on the phone while unlocking his bike by the Seeley Library. ‘Yeah, I thought that too mate, but the weather is meant to be lovely this week, so hopefully it’ll be alright.’

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Mountain View

Going to Cambridge as a Northerner is a leap into the unknown

Even though it’s exam season in the bubble, for the rest of the world, it’s just called summer. The Beast from the East will soon be a thing of the past and despite the winds from the flat lands, Cambridge is once again about to be soaked in sunshine. You might be concerned because you don’t know anything about Renaissance political thought, but at least you can put away your jumper and walk around drinking iced-coffee, like someone in LA who’s concerned about gluten.

So, this week: appreciate the architecture, don’t worry too much about the outcome, just invest in the attempt and remember to enjoy the sunshine

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