‘Avoid Gardies and don’t worry’: Seven Cambridge insider tips

Caithlin Ng 9 October 2017

If there’s one thing freshers will never be short of (and no, I’m not talking about free pens), then it’s advice. Within about ten minutes of first contemplating applying to uni, you probably knew that you should try as many societies as possible and not let anyone pressure you into anything you’re not comfortable with. And while those tips remain as true as ever, I’m here to try to give you some freshers’ advice you’ve only heard once or twice instead of several hundred times.

1. Be the one to instigate events. Every other fresher you meet would almost certainly love to be invited to a coffee break/pre-drinks/dinner out/punting trip. Unfortunately, somebody has to be the bold initiator of all these activities, if they’re ever going to happen. Fortunately, there’s no reason why this can’t be you. Turn those acquaintances into friends and make yourself known as the friendly one.

2. Van of Life is better than Gardie’s and that’s a fact. Anyone who tells you otherwise is either deluded or has never actually been to Van.

3. Don’t be intimidated. The Cambridge impostor syndrome is a classic that must be avoided: but beyond this, don’t let nerves stop you from doing anything at uni. Societies might feel tight-knit and exclusive; there might be that one group who have already pronounced themselves BFFs after Freshers’ Week; you might not be sure whether or not you’re physically capable of pole-dancing. It’s inevitable to feel a bit lacking in confidence every now and then, but almost everyone you meet will be extremely welcoming and keen to help you settle in. And anyone who seems like they’ve got their life completely sorted is just pretending. On the inside, we’re all just surprised that we made it this far without a nap.

4. Choosing a club can be a struggle, but it’s made easier if you know that a) Lola’s is the only place you can get drinks under £2.50, and b) there’s no good reason to go to Fez. Ever.

5. Don’t stop making friends. Your freshers’ friends might be some of the best you ever have, or you might never speak to them again after the turmoil of your first bop. Either way, don’t let them be your only friends- talk to other groups in college, talk to people on your course, talk to that one randomer you met at Freshers’ Fair and friended on Facebook in a giddy moment of optimism. Cambridge is completely full of interesting people and First Year is the perfect time to make the most of this.

6. It’s totally acceptable to go to Van of Life at any time, including when sober. (Yes, I really love Van of Life. No, this article is not being sponsored by them.)

7. Don’t worry! Ultimately, this is the most important piece of advice I can give. Hopefully, you’ll settle in straight away and never have any doubts about your uni life, but unfortunately for many people this won’t be the case. But first year is designed for people who’ve never been to university before: this is the time to find your feet. You will conquer that insurmountable pile of work; that one supervisor who has it in for you is just trying to help you achieve your best. Plenty of people need to take some time to feel properly at home at university, and some don’t even feel completely comfortable until second year or later. But there will be a solution to your problem out there, and there are literally hundreds of people out there who are keen to help you find it, even if it’s just by being available for a chat when you really need it.