Our Agony Aunt in her "off-brand Hogarthian" periodMaddy Sanderson with permission for Varsity

I vowed to give up smoking before the new year by taking up vaping instead. I am now addicted to both. What should I do?

Well, well, well, looks like somebody’s been spending far too much time in the basements of European nightclubs over the summer holiday. That, or one too many evenings networking with the middle-aged punters in the smoking area of your local Wetherspoons because you’re the only one out of all your mates still languishing in the murky backwaters of your hometown and, goddamn it, you’re not drinking alone on a weeknight again. But it appears you’ve only gone one step further, pulling the ol’ ‘replacing-one-addiction-with-another’ gambit. Minus points for the replacement habit being one which involves sucking on fruity air from a glorified lego duplo block.

Still, your dear agony aunt here knows it all too well. If I were to film one of those Cambridge ‘day-in-the-life’ YouTube videos during last year’s exam term, one scene would replay to the glitter title transitions and sickening stock acoustic loops with a disquieting frequency. Picture, dear reader, my pre-library slog of waking up for a black coffee, a cigarette, a scenic vape (a.k.a. chuffing a Lost Mary as I stumble across King’s Parade en route to Pret Numero Dos), followed by the next half hour sat superglued to the toilet seat, hanging my head in shame. If you want to kick the habit, why not just repeatedly play this off-brand Hogarthian progress in your head, until you get the smoggy ick? Although, let’s not lie to ourselves, any major health anxiety would have stopped you from smoking in the first place. Even the edge appeal is trailing off – nowadays you rarely see the packaging with the newborn baby looking hard as hell with a cig perched in its dummy (it’s health and safety gone mad!). That’s not to say the aesthetics of smoking haven’t been glamourised by popular culture; exhibit A of the consequences are the various hoards of Effy Stonems and Hunter S. Thompsons gracing the Sidgwick site car park every day of the week. And, to give credit to either of your chemical companions: aside from whatever the suits in the crowded bathroom cubicles of top City offices may be imbibing, few other habits routinely grant you a tasty tasty five minute break from the misery of paid employment. Hang on a second – what kind of madman would ever give that up? If you don’t mind, I have some urgent business to attend to down at the counter of King’s News…

I’m going into my final undergraduate year and I don’t have anything like internships or relevant work experience under my belt. What’s going to happen to me after graduation?

“What’s going to happen to me…?” – you are aware that the Vagabond Act is no longer a functioning aspect of English law? Did you fear that, stepping fresh off the gilded steps of Senate House, all peasants without a brand spanking graduate job at Morgan Stanley or GlaxoSmithKline will be placed in the stocks in Market Square, their dwindling net worth hammered to a wooden post by the side, for all to spit and laugh at? First of all, it’s not as dystopian as you think. As a terminal lout with not one internship, stint of work experience, or really any redeemable personal qualities to speak of, I’m actually doing some pretty hefty numbers in my student bank account – particularly if you ignore the small irrelevance of the glaring minus sign lingering perpetually in front of them. Such medieval punishments are also of course not our current reality (it’s still all to play for should Rishi start running out of ideas for the unemployment figures), but that hardly distances you further from your inevitable visits to the local JobCentre.


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Still, these high-flying grad gigs are overrated anyway. For instance, if they can’t transform my 2:2 and frazzled dopamine receptors into a 9-5 so excessively lucrative that the most intense learning curve of my shiny new grad job is the art of offshore tax evasion, how “magic” can this so-called “Magic Circle” really be? My advice, now that the death rattle of your academic career is sounding out through these hallowed halls, is to cultivate your current art of vegetation. Let’s face it, with all the nothing you’re going to be doing straight after graduation, you may as well be doing it right. Have you ever heard of the historical phenomenon of “ornamental hermits”? These lucky loafers spent their days chilling in purpose-built grottoes on the estates of wealthy landowners in the Eighteenth Century, where they would function as novel confidants and advisors to the aristocracy (this sounds oddly familiar… dear Varsity, where’s my grotto?). When they go low, you go… lower? More specifically, scurrying around the mossy cavern at the bottom of their garden.

The Lifestyle Editors would like to add, for the sake of transparency, that there is a gloomy corner of the Varsity offices – carpeted with fake moss, bordered by Romanesque pillars, and stocked up on Triple Mango Lost Marys – that Aunty Maddy is welcome to anytime. Ogle away.