A day in the life? More like a life in a day

Natalie Reeve, László Ryan Seress, and Jack May 24 January 2015

Natalie Reeve, Thesp Extraordinaire

Theatre has become the master of my schedule, as the opening night of Picasso Stole the Mona Lisa looms ever nearer. Character accessories fly in with the morning post, whilst the director and I zoom around the rest of Cambridge, frantically hunting for toy fish and an Edwardian swimming costume. Brunch fuel carries us over lunchtime.

Unusual demands satisfied, an afternoon rehearsal beckons: there are duels to be choreographed, duels which subsequently defy all limitations of the small college conference room forced to contain them. By the time we emerge, dishevelled and manic-eyed, the sky is black and Bridge Street is alight with restaurants. Over innumerable Byron burgers, we debate the mysteries behind the show’s every plot point.

I slink back through college via my pigeon-hole; it seems another theatrical parcel has arrived. The contents, however, are rather more ominous than expected – it’s not the fake severed hand I ordered for the next show’s prop-list, but in fact a much-needed copy of my next supervision text… which now gives me no excuse not to be reading it. At the eleventh hour, it seems, the Tripos has reasserted itself.

László Ryan Seress, Fulbright Scholar

6.30 a.m. – I'm pulled out of a peaceful slumber by the dulcet tones of my iPhone 'Marimba' jingle.  First priority: read the Google Calendar daily email to see what's on my plate, because God knows I'd forget something otherwise.

7.00 a.m. – Rowing outing on the Cam. People who have known me since my arrival in Cambridge find it paradoxical that I choose to return to the river after falling in while punting during week one, but happily, I've stayed dry since.  Pro-tip: leave your smartphone on the shore.

9.30 a.m. – After a quick breakfast and shower, bike over to the chemistry department.  My day job is being a theoretical chemistry graduate student, which I like to think of as an advanced apprenticeship in becoming Iron Man.

12.00 p.m. – Lunchtime with fellow postgrads in the department.  We've done a pretty good job of exploring the restaurants near Lensfield Road, but if anyone has any suggestions of places nearby, please do share – I’m serious.

1.00 p.m. – Hop over to the Cambridge Language Center for my weekly Mandarin Chinese course.

3.00 p.m. – Back to the lab to finish off the day's work, but not without stopping for the daily…

3.30 p.m. – Tea Break!  The quintessential part of my British Experience.  

5.30 p.m. – Time for rehearsal and choral eucharist with the Choir of Gonville and Caius College.  I've been singing all my life and the opportunity to do it here in Cambridge is one of my favorite parts about spending a year here.  

8.00 p.m. – Dash back home to change, then hurry to the boathouse for an erg session with my fellow oarsmen.  If anyone has noticed I'm probably wearing the same clothes as I was that morning for the outing, they are too polite to comment.

10.00 p.m. – After my second shower of the day, I will either read, Skype with friends back in the States, or catch up on some work.  Eventually exhaustion catches up with me and I fall asleep, only to wake up to the sounds of marimba music all over again.

Jack, TCS Editor-in-Chief

The day starts as early I can face starting it. Normally this means 11am – in spite of all efforts to the contrary, I’m still an English student. At that point there’s a mad rush to confront the flood of emails before they become too many to number. If I get up past midday, it’s far too late: by that point I’ve already received 70 emails, and there’s no time to read, digest, and respond to them all before a second wave of 70 arrives.

Once that’s dealt with, it’s time for my daily dose of fresh coffee and chocolate pastries. This is the ultimate me-time, usually accompanied by Eva Cassidy’s ‘Sunday Kind Of Love’ or a hearty selection of choral music (a secret love). After that I tend to log on to The Cambridge Student’s internal system and go on a publishing spree, before contacting the social media crew to get things out and about Cambridge.

If it’s towards the beginning of the week, I head over to TCS Towers as soon as I can and set up residency for the day. I’ll usually bring some work for whatever moments I can grab, but otherwise I spend the day helping editors set their sections, checking them over, correcting things, dealing with the monstrous software that is InDesign, and making sure that everything’s on schedule for the Wednesday evening printing.

The office is awesome, with a great team and strong camaraderie. We have loads of fun, surprisingly, and the odd bit of hysteria means we have a whiteboard filled with strange quotes from people on the team.

Come 5.30 and I’m off to choir, which, as you might imagine, involves singing, and lots of it: almost 10 hours a week, plus extra concerts, tours, and feasts. When the singing's done, I head back to the office.

If it’s a Wednesday, this is where the madness begins. Front pages are mocked up, last minute news stories are written and set, pages are checked, double-checked and triple-checked, and at some horrible hour in the early morning, 32 PDFs are sent to the printers, and many tired editors head wearily to bed.

Shove in the middle of this all some eats, some coffees (I average 6 a day – I have a problem), some teas (average 2), some degree (but not too much) and some ‘oh-quick-a-thing-has-just-happened-get-it-published-now’, and that’s it – a day in the life.