Isabelle sharing some love with her sister 'Jane' ISABELLE WATTS WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

At her request, my sister in this article will be referred to as Jane. I would have used a fun stage name but “Ice Spice” was already taken.

Going to university is, for many of us, a first step towards independence, a place for us to express ourselves free from the constraints of who we are at home. I always used to look forward to such freedom, despite being very close with my two sisters. Being very near in age, as well as attending the same schools and doing the same sport, has meant that we generally come as a “pack”. I used to be introduced to teachers as “Jane’s sister” (annoyingly, my little sister was also referred to as “Jane’s sister”. Not that I’m bitter). As much as I love them, I couldn’t wait to start afresh at a place where most people wouldn’t even know about them…until I unexpectedly got an offer from the same university that my big sister attends, and here we are.

Whilst I am by no means the only student to “follow” a sibling to Cambridge, I have come to realise that it provides unique perks — as well as certain disadvantages. I present to you a definitive pro-con list of sharing Cambridge with a big sister like mine.

The cons — Let’s start glass half empty, shall we?

Firstly, it is strange and slightly invasive that my sister sees both my home and my university personality, and I hers (everyone has got two, don’t try to deny it). Whilst I don’t judge her for her different mannerisms, and certainly hope she isn’t judging me, I am nevertheless painfully aware of the fact that she will be feeding back any information to my mother.

“I am painfully aware of the fact that she will be feeding back any information to my mother”

Which leads me onto the next con: I am very aware that anything my sister learns about me here may be used against me in a future argument. I’m not calling my sister a snitch, but she chooses not to keep secrets from our mother, let’s put it that way.

As I mentioned, I have, to my woe, been defined many times as “Jane’s sister”. I had hoped that the size of a university compared to our small secondary school would erase this title forever—how wrong I was. A particular low point was when a member of a student band spotted me in the audience and cried out from stage, “Hey, Jane’s sister!”—flashbacks to Year 7 ensued.

Finally, whether or not this is a peculiarity of our relationship, I do not know, but to see her in the club is simply mortifying. It’s just not the sort of relationship we have. Luckily it has only happened once so far, but my fingers are crossed that we avoid each other at post-exams Revs.

I expect you’re wondering whether this article was just an excuse to expose my sister (or my middle child syndrome) on the internet. But fear not, it’s not all bad. For example, it is fortunate that the college system separates us physically, which importantly allows me to predict her movements and for us to have a somewhat different experience at the same university. On that positive note, let us move swiftly onto the positives.

The pros — Let’s start filling the cup back up

I suppose the first benefit should be “advice”, although I’m not sure she has actually dished out many nuggets of wisdom. Of course I am eternally grateful for her lesson that “it’s embarrassing to wear your college puffer as much as you do” at the end of Michaelmas, I must say she has not imparted much else in the way of wisdom after her three years here. Perhaps the nature of the university means there are none!

Without a doubt, the most important benefit this year has been my access to my sister’s wardrobe — fortunately, we are pretty much the same size. Sharing clothes is undoubtedly the most useful benefit to having a sibling; truly, that’s what they’re there for.


Mountain View

Is there a ‘greater genuine care for each other’ within exam term?

She also buys me dinner occasionally, which is extremely pleasing to both me and my bank account. I enjoy eating with her as we would at home, whilst simultaneously putting the world to rights. It’s also an essential opportunity to complain about mutual enemies, which any doctor or medical student will tell you is actually good for your health.

As I ponder her graduation, and wonder what Cambridge will be like without her here next year, I realise that I am going to miss her rather a lot. Although the newfound independence and sense of self at university is certainly priceless, I do love having her around. At the end of the day she is my big sister, and I don’t really know what I’ll do without her.