Moving to a new place without knowing anyone is tough, but you'll find your peopleAlisa Santikarn

With so much to remember as you embark on the beginning of university life (or return after a long summer break), it can be easy to forget the small things. From some general bits of advice to the quirky items they've become dependent upon, several current students share the tips they wish they'd known earlier in their Cambridge lives.

Searching for the sea in Cambridge

Suggest a swim to your new mates before free time and sunshine disappearAlisa Santikarn

Having spent the first 10 years of my life with a view of the ocean from my window I had reservations about attending a university so far from the coast. However, I quickly learnt that Cambridge has lots of lovely swim spots - try a dip in the Cam at Grantchester (there’s a big tree with rope swings in the middle of the meadows that’s particularly fun) or visit Emma, Christ or Girton’s college pools. Suggest a swim to your new mates before free time and sunshine disappear for the winter. And keep the Jesus Green lido in the back of your mind for when it reopens in May. It’s the longest outdoor swimming pool in the country!

          - Belle George

“Bowls are the new plates”

bowls are sociable in ways plates just can’t beAlisa Santikarn

If university has taught me anything, it’s that bowls are the new plates. They’re versatile, portable and practical. It’s possible to eat all three meals of the day from a bowl, and when you’re bogged down with work the seconds saved in cleaning will feel like a lifesaver. But beyond this, bowls are sociable in ways plates just can’t be. From carrying stir-fry to the buttery to gathering in my friend’s room after a night out for pasta, a bowl means I can easily eat wherever I want. These communal moments of food and friendship underpinned my first year - so don’t underestimate the importance of bringing a bowl with you!

          - Isobel Bickersteth

Time management? A piece of cake

Arriving at Cambridge I was a mess: excited but also intimidated by Cambridge’s reputation for high pressure environments and heavy workloads. However, in my first week someone shared with me a reassuring tip, one that is probably the one reason why I wasn’t a disorganised, stressed nightmare by the end of first year!

I have come out in one piece and have had much fewer desperate nights in the library

My college principal told us in her matriculation speech that the 24-hour day could be divided into three: 8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep and 8 hours for everything else. While putting numbers on the amount of hours of work you do isn’t helpful for everyone, I found this structure really useful in dividing my time and ensuring I still had a social life. Using this as a rough guide throughout the year, I have come out in one piece and have had much fewer desperate nights in the library trying to finish essays! Regardless of the hours you break it into, structuring your time to suit the way you learn is invaluable.

          - Millie Kiel

Stay fresh!

saving money is always a plus!Alisa Santikarn

My tip is a bit strange but the one thing I always tell freshers is to bring a clothes horse and hang clothes on that instead of using a dryer. I can guarantee that drying clothes in your room makes both your room and clothes smell so fresh and clean - and saving money is always a plus! 

          - Ruth Moss

Patience is a virtue

Back when I started here I was often told that ‘you’ll make all your closest friends in Freshers’ Week’. This can put a lot of pressure on you right at the start of term and I’ve found that it’s actually a huge myth. Sure, you might bond with some people instantly, but I didn’t make some of my closest friends until a month, a term or even a whole year after matriculation. Moving to a new place without knowing anyone is tough, but if you’re patient and put yourself into situations where you’ll meet others then eventually you’ll find your people.

          - Zébulon Goriely

Pack the essentials (milk frother included)

I would have sprinted to Hot Numbers and bought an Aeropress right there and thenAlisa Santikarn

If I could have told my fresher self the hit my personal finances would take as a result of a mild-to-moderate caffeine dependency, I would have sprinted to Hot Numbers and bought an Aeropress right there and then.


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Mountain View

The pitfalls of perfectionism

Your first Michaelmas is likely to be exhausting, but don’t force your future sleep-deprived self to rely on Cambridge’s (admittedly lovely) cafés. This should go without saying, but I lacked foresight.

Any make of coffee machine, as well as a cheap frothing wand and milk pitcher (works on even the worst of gyp hot plates) is your best friend.

          - Catherine Lally

illustration: Alisa Santikarn

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