The best image the editor could find of a 'rainbow duck unicorn'Homestreet

Slowly but surely the ‘quiet please, exam in progress’ signs have been dismantled all over Cambridge; reams of iDiscover tabs have been closed across laptop screens, indulgently replaced by Love Island and ASOS; and, even those precious few, who had academic integrity enough to base their module choices on personal interest, rather than their finishing date, are at last free from Tripos. Congratulations Cambridge; welcome to May Week.

Apart from the fact that Sainsbury’s must have made a killing from cava, none of us can really be sure of the results that are to come from the gruelling weeks we’ve just endured. But what’s the point in worrying? You might as well save yourself the trouble, pour yourself a glass of something and take it from Doris Day: que sera, sera.

The real world is either upon us or one step closer to us

As I began reflecting back on the term, trying to think of what I wanted to say in this final column, what became painfully apparent was not how terrible Exam Term was, but rather, how quickly it went. Here I am, sitting in my kitchen, having drunk Pimm’s all day, now listening to some vets having a BBQ outside in the late afternoon sunshine, and, exams feel like a very distant memory.

"People would have killed to spend three years in Cambridge, living and studying here"Holly Platt-Higgins

For many people, this last week of term isn’t just the last week of term, but also the last week of their Cambridge careers. This week is the final time many people will go to may balls, or be able to ask for student discounts, or live in halls with their friends, or viably consider themselves a child in any way: the real world is either upon us or one step closer to us. This column was supposed to be about bursting the bubble and regaining some real-world perspective, but it seems I had forgotten that actually the Cambridge bubble bursts of its own accord when our time here is up.

So, while no one needs any advice on how to get through and enjoy May Week (apart from maybe: stay hydrated, pace yourself, use suncream, and wear comfy shoes) here are the final few scraps I’ve collected from the ’bridge to give you something to keep in mind in the coming days:

Things to remember this week:

A couple of girls walked past as I was sitting drinking coffee on Thursday morning, nursing hangovers. One was clearly at the end of relaying a tale from the evening before and she paused before sighing, “Oh god. It’s so embarrassing.” Her friend laughed and replied, “It’s a good story though.”

  • Many of us won’t be able to make it through May Week without royally embarrassing ourselves. Inevitably there will be vomit, there will be tears, there will be inappropriate behaviour and there will be unfortunate decisions, but we ought to remember to enjoy it, even the shit bits, because they often make for the best stories. Was I pleased when I dropped my phone in the loo at Robison May Ball? Not especially. Paying however many hundred quid to get it replaced can’t reasonably be considered a highlight, but it’s been good value for money as a conversation piece. When embarrassment wears off, which it eventually must, things that seemed awful are simply funny.

I was lying on Jesus Green, unknowingly burning, when a massive man walked past me. By massive, I mean he was like Thor. He was huge. He had arms like tree trunks and a shaved head and sleeve tattoos and was wearing a Metallica T-shirt, and honestly, looked mildly terrifying. But, as his daughter trotted past him, a toy fell out of her bag and he called her back in a very soft, baby-talk kind of voice, saying, “Tilly, look who you’ve forgotten. We don’t want to forget Mr Rainbow duck unicorn, do we?”

  • Although I’m still unsure as to what a ‘rainbow duck unicorn’ actually is, that isn’t really the point. The point is, we are astoundingly quick to judge people and interactions and often the judgements we make are very ill-informed. For instance, last year I set my friend up on a date with someone and they both hated each other but now, they’re very much in love and heading on a three-week holiday to Greece, island hopping over the summer. Throughout your time at Cambridge, you will meet a lot of people and while it’s easier to label and dismiss them, frequently, if you put the effort in, you will come to find that people are much more than they originally seem and you may have something to offer one another.

This final fragment is overheard, but something my grandma wrote me. She occasionally sends me a cheque which she tells me to pay into my ‘milk and banana survival fund’, apparently, you could survive from these two things alone, and she wrote: “I really do envy you Holls – living in one of the most beautiful cities in England and studying with experts to guide you. My idea of bliss!”

  • It is very easy to forget how incredibly lucky we all are; how many other people would have killed to spend three years in Cambridge, living and studying here. While it is important to enjoy it, it’s essential to appreciate it. Not only because it will all be over very soon, but because we are among the very rare few who are privileged enough to get to have this experience.

So, things to remember in May Week: embarrassing incidences will eventually translate into excellent conversation pieces; keep an open mind as you never know who someone might end up being to you and, appreciate things before they’re gone.

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