Editorial – Michaelmas 2009, Issue 3

19 October 2009

It seems strange to reach the end of Freshers’ week, built up as it is to be such a momentous occasion for students nationwide, and breath a sigh of relief. I may be a cynical third year, but it seems, in Cambridge, Freshers’ week is often little more than the worst of both worlds, social and academic.

No matter how experienced I believed myself to be before ‘coming up’ this year, I don’t think I was ever going to avoid the anxiety that surrounds these first couple of weeks.

For the Freshers themselves, it’s a fun-packed schedule of bops, bar crawls and even bouncy castles- but even for these wide-eyed newcomers, the week can prove more stressful than enjoyable, as our survey has suggested.

Of course it isn’t helped by the immediate onslaught of academic work.

Several of the Freshers I spoke to in our college were panicking about their first all-nighters before they’d even matriculated. Even as a serious finalist, with, naturally, a keen eye on the academics, I was less than thrilled at the arrival of my first essay on the Tuesday of what should perhaps be renamed our ‘Freshers four days.’

At a recent formal, I found myself sat next to an LSE third year, separated from his party after their late arrival.

As I was sat opposite my college son, and was thus compelled to explain our ‘college family’ system, the events of our first week back were soon dominating our conversation, and it struck me, once again, just how rough the deal can be for us Cantabridgians.

As he spoke of their ‘Freshers fortnight’ of lazy days and exciting nights, though, I wasn’t jealous. Perhaps this is the effect of Cambridge Freshers’ week.

As my London-based student sister loves to point out, ‘nerd’ status can be hard to avoid as a Cambridge student, and I’m sure I’m not doing myself any favours here.

But my point is not that those events might not be fun at the time, but more that they don’t provide the introductory opportunity to all of University life that might be more useful in a Freshers’ week. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing that, depending on your preference.

Don’t get me wrong – I do not prefer work to a good night out!

Ultimately, then, after all this late night pondering , the jury is still out for me.

After hearing that a whole 20% of those we surveyed found Freshers’ week ‘stressful and frightening’ , though, I can’t help by feel that Cambridge isn’t getting it right.