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Top ten tips for Cambridge freshers 

So you have got into Cambridge… CONGRATS!! You are probably feeling a mixture of fear and excitement right now. I remember coming up to Cambridge pretty sure that I was going to become a recluse, slaving over Cicero and “The Aeneid”, with the glimmer of Christmas the only thing to look forward to in first term. I am pleased to report that this didn’t happen!

I’ve been asked to give you my top ten tips for life in Cam (there’s a lot of abbreviations here!) so here goes:

1) Don’t be afraid to ask questions, whether it be to the freshers' committee, the porters, people at church, or just general people! I remember asking a porter where a basic building was in my college, after being there for nearly a full year, with the response of about five minutes of laughter BUT he was very friendly and DID help me. In the same way my dad laughed for about 20 minutes down the phone, REALLY LOUDLY, while I stood in Sainsbury’s asking how to wash clothes properly, so like I said, it’s all a learning curve and people are more than willing to help!

2) Fresher’s Fair… this is definitely a day you don’t want to miss out on. It’s a brilliant opportunity to find clubs that you are interested in. Bit of advice though… DO NOT BE DISTRACTED BY THE FREEBEES!! There will be many and it will be hard but if you have to put your email address down, consider how much you want those fake flowers for your neck. If you DO give into temptation make sure you figure out how to unlist yourself unless you want 2,000 unread emails in your Cam system at the end of term!

3) Formal Hall (matriculation) – this is such a fun night to be part of, it involves free food, which if you are anything like me is great, and also dressing up in gowns which makes you feel like you’re in Harry Potter. Top tip? Just enjoy it and let it sink in that all your hard work coming up to A-level or equivalent has been completely worth it.

4) Speaking of Fresher’s week, what is better than the chilled-out and fun events that the Christian Union in each college will put on? I know, nothing right? I know several colleges put on breakfast mornings on Sunday so that you can have some food and meet other Christians before discovering the amazing churches within Cambridge. Going along to CU has provided me with some of my best friends and really developed my faith.

5) Speaking of churches – deffo get involved with one! It provides SUCH a support network and homely element to your week. Plus lots of the churches have services that are followed by a student lunch or supper, so there is really no excuse as you can still have a lie in and get all that beauty sleep!

6) Next tip concerns punting. It probably seems a bit odd in the middle of this article but it is a pretty random activity when you think about it. I mean, reclining down the river while waiting for your friend to fall in whilst attempting to punt is not your normal activity. BUT this is one of the brilliantly unusual things in Cam that is so fun to do when you are taking a break from that deadline. Top tip? Make sure to wrap up warm – it’s cold out there!

7) Next tip – lectures. Make sure you show up on time!! While I live just across the road from where I’m taught it’s amazing how little time even I leave. If you live further out like Girton (good luck!), you may want to consider getting a bike. There are loads of bike shops in Cam if transportation of a bike would be difficult for you. But yeah, you just don’t want to be the one climbing over desks, pretending that everyone isn’t staring at you, so leave enough time!

8) I didn’t even really want to mention it but yes exam term does exist but you will all be fine! One important tip I have learned from many friends during this term is that while making sure you have a good work/life balance, Sainsbury’s value chocolate, at only 40p a pop, is one of the best ways to blast away any pre-exam stress.

9) Get involved… this is a big tip for Cambridge life in general but also for Christian life here. There is so much to get stuck into here especially with CICCU and at church. One thing I was incredibly struck by was how vibrant Cambridge Christian life is, so embrace it!

10) So, I’ve come to the last point… make sure you have fun. My first year went so quickly and while there were stressful times, what I remember most were those “I can’t believe I’m actually here having this much fun” moments. So ALWAYS make sure to put things in perspective and remember that you have a creator God that has loved you since before you came into being. You are not defined by being the smartest pupil and that gives you freedom to live life to the full, seeking to serve God in every way.

I am SO keen to meet all of you guys. I’m the girl with the Northern Irish accent that no-one usually understands and speaks really loudly so PLEASE come up for a chat or with any questions - I am more than willing to help!


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