Freshers’ Bucket List: Part I

Freya Sanders 3 November 2014

After the success of the TCS Bucket List published last Easter Term, the team at The Cambridge Student has produced a bigger, better and more beautiful edition, especially for Freshers of 2014. Go forth, new Cantabs, and enjoy this city.

1. Get lost in the UL
Whether you're a fresh-faced first year English student or a reluctant fourth year engineer, there will come a time when you, too, are summoned to the University Library in academic desperation. If you're learning to love Cambridge, there's no better place to start than here.

2. Attend the Boat Race
Even the most uncompetitive souls find themselves utterly losing their heads on the banks of the Thames when Oxford and Cambridge go head to head each Spring. The next boat race will be on 11th April, and there'll be double the excitement: for the first time in history, the men's and women's boat race will take place on the same day, on the same course. And if you can't make it to London in person, our intrepid team at TCS will be Live and Riverside providing updates.

The tradition hasn't changed that much since 1841.         

3. Go to a White Tie May Ball
Black Tie is an effort; White Tie is an extravagence – so much so that most May Balls don't bother with it. Nevertheless, it does add an extra smudge of luxury and splendour to an evening. This year there are three options: the biennial Magdalene May Ball and the triennial Peterhouse May Ball are occuring on the same year for the first time since 2009, along with the annual Trinity May Ball. Tickets are like gold dust, however, so don't fret if you miss out: any May Ball or June Event can be an incredible experience. Find out more about May Week at

4. Go to an Itchy Feet club night
These come round about once a term, usually at a point when Cambridge clubbing is just starting to become monotonous. Marketed as a "vintage dance night", this set of touring DJs are known to get even reluctant clubbers tapping their toes. Donning polka dots and plimsolls is optional but encouraged: it adds to the atmosphere. Sign up to the mailing list here and you should be able to bag an early bird £1 ticket.

5. Sneak into an ADC afterparty
When it's full of actors who are sleep-deprived and most of all relieved that the show went alright, the ADC bar is probably the closest Cambridge gets to hedonism. Aim for 3am on a Sunday morning and most of the people there won't care that you didn't see the show, let alone act in it.

6. Sit at High Table during formal
Donate your maintenance loan to the college; propose to your DoS; save the master from a burning building: you're going to have to be creative to make it to High Table, which is usually reserved for fellows. The simplest way is to sing in a chapel choir. Unless you're tone deaf.

You can't sit with us.                                           

7. Surreptitiously eat your lunch in a supervision
Unless you're very experienced in the art of sneaky munching, don't attempt crisps, popcorn or cherry tomatoes without at least a couple of hours' practice in the library. Bonus points if you can subtly do shots with your supervision partner.

8. Take a selfie with the freaky cows on Coe Fen

TCS accepts no responsibility for bovine injuries incured.

9. Sit in a cage on King’s Parade for Amnesty

Most terms Cambridge University Amnesty International sets up a cage on King's Parade. Volunteers from across the university take turns to be locked in the cage – alone or with a companion – suffering cold, hunger, and potentially bladder discomfort for a couple of hours to raise awareness for those who have to endure such things for much longer because of their political beliefs. To find out more, visit the CUAI website.

10. Have brunch at Murray Edwards
Depictions of the naked female body plaster the walls at one of Cambridge's more eclectic colleges – it boasts the largest collection of all-female art in Europe. But that's not all Medwards has to offer: every weekend men and women alike flock to 'The Dome' – as Murray Edwards' hall is nicknamed – to sample the top-notch super-cheap brunch, featuring stellar waffles and hash browns that'll tempt you back for seconds. Brunch runs every Saturday from 11.30 to 1.30, but get there early.

Dome sweet dome                                   

11. Do an all-nighter
It's an important experience that can teach you about your physical limits, the darker sides of caffeine, and the value of forward planning. And who knows: maybe, like Ernest Hemingway, you write best at 3 o'clock in the morning.

12. Mexican wave in a lecture
This requires planning. Turn up in a sombrero and make multiple failed attempts in front of everyone you know and your street-cred will be irrevocably damaged; attempt to spontaneously get one going in a room full of strangers and defeat is inevitable. But if you pull it off you will appear effortlessly and carelessly cool: the logistical difficulties and fact that you secretly try quite hard will be invisible to all.

13. Realise how cool Stephen Hawking is
Not only is he thoroughly involved in the Ents Committee at Caius (in a video he announced the theme of the 2013 Gonville and Caius May Ball, where he was a guest of honour), but he also took on the Ice Bucket Challenge. There's no getting around the fact: Professor Hawking is pretty cool.

14. Ride the Jesus College horse statue
Bill Nighy is rumoured to have been told off for riding the horse statue while filming at Jesus in 2011; can you match his mean feat?

It's almost begging people to leap on

15. Try rowing
It only takes half an hour of suffering for you to be able to say at every dinner party for the rest of eternity, 'Oh yes why of course I rowed while at Cambridge'. But you should probably stick at it because rowing is great; click here to find out why.

16. Swim in the Cam
This may be an inevitable outcome of #Number15. If your dip is planned, however, a wetsuit is advisable. As is a leptospirosis vaccine. 
Whatever you do, avoid clashes with punting touts and swans – the latter have been known to get ASBOs.

17. Swim in the pool at Girton College

If you don't fancy Weil's disease, Girton is the only Cambridge college to boast an indoor heated swimming pool, open most days between 7am and 8pm. There are clearly some benefits to living an extra five minutes out of town.

18. Go to your college’s evensong

22 of Cambridge's 29 colleges have a chapel, most of which offer evensong at the very least every Sunday in term time. These days most services attract tiny congregations, but it's worth giving your chapel some love. After all, Cambridge is full of exceptionally good musicians, and never forget that chapel choirs perform for the joy of melodious communication, not for the free formals.

King's isn't the only college with a chapel 

19. Live off Sainsbury's Basics for a week
Most students will find that, towards the end of term, their maintenance loan is in minus figures; at this point it's wise to turn to the most noble of friends that you will meet while at Cambridge: Sainsbury's Basics. Breaded Scampi Bites; Blackcurrant Swirl Cheesecake; Broken Grapefruit Segments: the selection is far from basic, even if it is unwise to question the production process of most of these goods. And after all, beggars can't be choosers.

20. See how it compares to Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference'
TCS staged its very own Taste the Difference or Basics Battle, and it was a tough one to call. After all, according to the website, "every single thing in our Taste the Difference range is as good as it gets". A bold statement, but you may agree after sampling the painfully classy range that includes Smoked Salmon, Kalamata Olive Bread and Pomodorino Tomatoes.


A full list of the essential Cambridge experiences will be printed in the paper shortly. Pin it to your wall and keep track of the mad times you have here.

If you do anything utterly outrageous in your quest for Bucket List completion – or have an awesome idea for experiences to add to the list – drop us a line #TCSBucketList.

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Photos: Paukrus; YouTube; mecsu; John Lord; Paul Stainthorp