"I am so thankful that I got to know you all, and that I have, in such a short space of time, been able to accumulate so many wonderful memories."Photo courtesy of Paddy Bird

I left the rural West of Ireland to start in Cambridge in October 2018. Culturally, there was certainly a huge gap, in every sense of the word. My school had no Oxbridge presence, and, at the time, I thought I was unprepared. In retrospect, I went over to Cambridge with absolutely no clue about how to adapt to its lifestyle. Recently, with all that has been going on - and, like many, being caught up in the emotions of it all - I have been reflecting a lot on those hazy, early Cambridge memories, and all that has happened since then.

Love Letters to Cambridge

These are tough and uncertain times for us all, and a lot of us are left with little closure. Varsity are launching this series to give a platform to students reflecting on the parts of Cambridge they'll miss the most, and to gain some closure through writing. Just email our Features team with a 150-word pitch with your idea!

I suppose it is only now, when this all happened, that I thought about just how big an impact on my life that you, the finalists, all had. You were the ones who, when I arrived here, took me under your wing, and had what felt like endless time to answer my questions. You helped me through that stressful first term of Cambridge, when I couldn’t cope with my degree, or Cambridge life. You were the ones who supported me when I wanted to play university sport, and others told me not to. And, when I was on that team, you all welcomed me in and made it feel like a family. You were the ones who, when I was upset about my exams, dropped everything to come and find me, and tell me it would all be alright. And, when I said I wanted to improve this year, you are the ones who did everything to help me. In what felt like the lowest points of my life, you were the shoulders to lean on.

"...perhaps it was the unremarkable times, the impromptu drink in the college bar, or the chats in the JCR as we went about our daily lives, that now mean the most."Photo courtesy of Paddy Bird

There were great times. Those nights when 10 of us would crowd into someone’s tiny college room, drinking cheap wine after formal. Or those cool, Lent Term mornings, when I would cycle over to Fenner’s to play tennis with you; those mornings where the cold bites the tips of your fingers, just to remind you it isn’t spring yet. Or perhaps it was the unremarkable times, the impromptu drink in the college bar, or the chats in the JCR as we went about our daily lives, that now mean the most.

“...wherever, whenever we meet next, despite all of this, at least Cambridge has given us friendships with you, the finalists...”

I cast back to those warm, windy summer evenings in May Week last year, the sun’s light glazing the city’s vista in a golden veneer; those evenings where Cambridge seemed to seduce us with its glamour. The big blue sky stretched lazily out into the distance, infinitesimally transporting us to Big Sky Country. I loved the spontaneous sanguinity of it with you all, sitting in that beautiful St John’s garden wasting an afternoon away, meandering through the cobbled streets for an afternoon, the impromptu barbecue beside a cricket pitch that ensued.

We went to Girton that night to have a drink, and walked back to Homerton after. Heaven knows why we did it, but I’m so glad that it happened. Those days where we sat on the bank of the Cam, wasting an afternoon away watching Bumps, the tired cycle back to college after. I suppose those were the days, my friends, we just thought they’d never end.

But this year, I feel, like many, that those times have been ripped from our grasps, and we will possibly not have the chance to repeat them again as a group of Cambridge undergraduates. It is so sad that what was meant to be your most special time in Cambridge has been taken from you. But I am so thankful that I got to know you all, and that I have, in such a short space of time, been able to accumulate so many wonderful memories.


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Mountain View

What could’ve been

These are sombre times, but good times will soon, I hope, be on the horizon. We will all celebrate together when this is over, wherever that happens to be. I hope it will be in Cambridge, and I hope that those summer barbecues we talked about manifest themselves into a reality. I do know that wherever, whenever we meet next, despite all of this, at least Cambridge has given us friendships with you, the finalists, that should transcend the sadness we feel for you about losing your final term in this unique, intense, wonderful place.

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