"If I could go back to that 18-year-old girl, I would tell her that the place she is heading for will change everything she thinks she knows"Elizabeth Haigh

I approached this term with excitement, but also a mountain of trepidation. On the one hand, I will do my last ever Cambridge exams, celebrate long into the summer, (hopefully) even graduate. On the other, I have to come to terms with the fact that my Cambridge experience is almost finished. I will have to say goodbye over and over, to my friends, college staff, Homerton. And I don’t feel ready yet.

My memories of first year are, as they are for many, blurry. There was the excitement of moving in, Freshers week, bumbling social encounters with people whose names I forgot as quickly as I heard them. That first formal when I openly gawked at the world I had stumbled into, and the awe at the sheer beauty of the city I’d just arrived in. Then came the creeping-in of imposter syndrome, the workload, the fearful planning for what turned out to be half a year abroad. And now, the rush to somehow “complete” the Cambridge experience and make the most of every second, every laugh, every sunny day.

Regardless of good times and bad, one thing has always been certain: an immovable pillar of support throughout my time here. Homerton, my College, has been dependably there, dependably the same, dependably mine – completely disconnected from all I had experienced before. Whether I was at a supervision in town, halfway across Europe or on the other side of the country, Homerton was always waiting, a welcome sanctuary of familiarity. While abroad, it was a place I could return to visit friends and relive memories, and a reminder of everything I had to look forward to. This year it has become my permanent home, filling a pit of emptiness and providing shelter when I had no place I could call my own.

“Homerton, my College, has been dependably there, dependably the same, dependably mine”

In January, I loved its quietness and the fact that I could wander the orchard at near-midnight without worrying about anyone watching. In March, I welcomed back a housemate and enjoyed spotting the odd new face arriving into College. In May, I’ve rediscovered the best places to sit in the grounds while I somehow juggle studying for finals, existential crises, and editing Varsity (whose smart idea was that?!). In July, I will have to leave and never look back.

No Cambridge college is perfect. Homerton is no exception. There are things that I wish I could change, issues that I wish I’d gotten more involved with from the start and spoken up about. I have had some of the toughest moments of my life within these walls. But I’ve also had some of the most amazing ones. If I could go back to that 18-year-old girl, itching to escape her hometown, nervous she wouldn’t find anyone she could relate to, I would tell her that the place she is heading for will change everything she thinks she knows, every aspect of her life. That she should plunge headfirst into university and not hesitate or hide herself from those living right next to her.

“In July, I will have to leave and never look back”

But I can’t go back, only forward. Now, Time is my best friend and my worst enemy. I can’t wait for exams to be over and to make the most of my last weeks here. But Time’s ominous hands keep ticking, drawing ever nearer to the end of everything that is known, everything that is safe. How am I supposed to enjoy my last month here, when it feels as if a dark figure is looming over me, watching the last few grains of sand fall, ready to swing his scythe and sever my ties to the College forever?


Mountain View

Times of missed opportunity

Many, many times as I have walked through the College gates this term, I have wondered how many more times I will do so. Every coffee I buy, every evening spent “studying”, every procrastination walk to check my pigeon hole suddenly feels numbered. Even this article marks another milestone, probably one of the last ones I will ever write for Varsity. The amount of time I have spent at Homerton this year has meant that I have gotten to know the College, and the city, to a degree I had never imagined. And now, I don’t want to leave.

A very wise woman once told me that you should always leave the party while you’re still having fun. I definitely wouldn’t call parts of this year fun. But there is nowhere else I would rather have spent three years, two lockdowns, and a whole lot of good memories. And for that reason, it’s time for me to go. I may not be at peace with it, I may not even want to. But I will always be able to look back on Homerton with fondness, and will hopefully return someday. And anyway, who is ever fully prepared for change? There is no delaying the end of my degree, no stealing from Time as Alice does in Alice through the Looking Glass. I have to jump down the rabbit hole and see where I tumble out. It’s time for me to say goodbye.