With the start of term looming, the coming lectures, essays, and exams are not all there is to contend with. Before any of that work can begin, there is another hurdle to overcome. Although one that should in theory be the easiest, really something that should be no issue at all, it is instead often the one where the most hassle is to be had: the move back to Cambridge.
A lucky few might have the pleasure of reading this article with bemusement, the luxury of their particular accommodation meaning they can leave the majority of their belongings in their rooms over the holidays. For them, there are no packing problems to go with the short terms and the constant moves to and from college. For the rest of us, the annoyance of moving in and out is as heavy as the suitcases we lug up and down our staircases at the start and end of each term. A large part of the problem is the staircases themselves; it is astonishing how much heavier a box of something or other feels when carried up three flights of stairs rather than one. I would like to pretend I pack with this thought in mind, making informed decisions to leave behind those books and folders I know won’t be needed during term, but of course I never do.
The smart answer to the packing problem would, I know, be to leave something in storage. I have yet to take out any of my cutlery between terms; I would hardly miss it if it were still in Cambridge while I was at home. Yet, that would mean consigning myself to a difficult scenario: with the restricted time slots to deposit boxes in storage, there would undoubtedly be a period of time when I would have no mugs left to use. No mugs would mean no tea, which would be a dire situation. Not to sound too stereotypically British, but what would I dunk my biscuits in? By the end of term, only the least favourite biscuits are left, which can only really be tolerated with an accompanying cup of tea. This highly difficult situation can be so easily avoided by not being separated from my mugs early, so the only option is not to leave anything in storage.
I will admit to have made some of my own packing problems; moving in and out of college would be much easier if I thought it all through and actually used the storage options on offer. But then again, I have the best defence possible: an older sister who doesn’t know the meaning of ‘light packing’, and so has set the worst example possible. At least, it is a comparison that makes me feel a little better at my own packing problems.