Georgie happily spending time with St EdmundGEORGIE ATKINSON WITH PERMISSION FOR VARSITY

It is unsurprising that Taylor Swift’s lyrics, “sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby, and I am a monster on the hill” resonated with me in a recent spin class. As a student at one of the four mature colleges dotted and hidden around Cambridge, it can often feel as though you are an ogre that happens to be lurking underneath Magdalene bridge.

To mitigate the gasps of horror when I tell people that I am at Eddie’s, I usually just introduce myself with, “oh, I am an ancient woman up on the hill” to avoid the look of sympathy in their eyes. This feeds into the psychodrama that is being a student at Cambridge; where arguably at every twist and turn, you are made to feel lesser than. Naturally, being a mature student does place you into another realm of being “other”.

“It can often feel as though you are an ogre that happens to be lurking underneath Magdalene bridge”

You would expect that by combining those who have supposedly had some experience in the wider world, there would be an element of maturity in the air, you would be sorely mistaken. It is this expectation versus reality that I have personally found incredibly jarring; admittedly I have been a blithering wreck post an excursion to Revs before anyone charges me with hypocrisy. However, it is the endless churning of the gossip mill that can wear the most Herculean of undergraduates and postgraduates down. Perhaps I should just be able to suck it up and move serenely past the gossip mongering but for those of us, like myself, who were living an ostensibly adult life before returning to the Cambridge bubble, it can be rather frustrating.

This piece so far has made it seem as though I am airing my gripes and personal frustrations. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet arguably some of my closest friends and some utterly delightful people; it is just a case of separating the wheat from the chaff. Also, I am notably indebted to the admissions team who somehow didn’t scream at horror at my application. Despite the immaturity and gossip mill that could rival any undergraduate college, some of my friends have shown a level of empathy beyond their years, allowing us to bond beyond the dancefloor at the mature club nights (don’t worry they are as awful as they sound).

The ever changing demographics and environment of the college can be a little hard to keep a pace with, when the annual wave and influx of postgraduates can change the dynamics of the CR. Yes, another quirk of mature colleges is that there is no separation between the JCR and MCR, we are all thrown together in one leather chair laden room. Although, there is comfort in seeing the same faces lurking in the college library day to day, some advice I would offer to ease daily life within college is to interact with those beyond the boundaries of college. A shameless plug to become involved with Varsity — perhaps so?

“Being a mature student, does often mean that the dating pool is about as fertile as the Sahara”

If you know me, or have had the displeasure of having a conversation with me, you will know that I do like regaling the anecdotes of perhaps my rather unhinged dating life. Being a mature student, does often mean that the dating pool is about as fertile as the Sahara but you also watch your friends from home, in my case London, journey down the archetypal route of moving to Clapham or if they are feeling fruity, Balham, finding a respective other and going on their merry way. This, combined with the awkward conversations at social events at Christmas and birthdays when the conversation inevitably flows onto “what you are up to?” and you just have to grimace and still say “uni is going relatively well”, whilst suppressing the memory of a bird becoming trapped in your room prior to an exam. Arguably that is a uniquely personal experience. However at the forefront of my mind is that I am incredibly lucky to be at Cambridge and despite the occasional loneliness and heartbreak, that in the words of my mother, “this will all be worth it”.


Mountain View

Where mother ends, daughter begins: what my relationship with my mother taught me about being a woman

Next Freshers’ week, or if you happen to bump into a mature student with a wistful look in their eye next term (it could be hypnosis from the corpus clock), spare a thought for those of us who have chosen to come back to university. Arguably showing a level of courage necessary to go against social norms. Whilst our contemporaries move on with their lives, we are stuck in a vaguely educational purgatory before we can catch up with them.

Clive James, infamously noted when he arrived in Cambridge to start his second undergraduate degree, “at the age of twenty-four I was a complete failure, with nothing to show for my life except a few poems nobody wanted to publish in book form”. Thirty- three years later I can happily say that whilst my experience is reticent to that of James, the people I have met have changed my outlook to one of hope for the future, as I enter my third year of being a mature student.