Top 10 Fresher Firsts

Maddy Airlie 5 November 2015

It's halfway through the term now; you've had time to settle in and get to know Cambridge a little bit better, so you should know that most of the best experiences take place outside the supervision room and the lecture hall. Have a look at this list and see if you're really getting the most out of yout time here…

1. Go all out in your dressing up efforts for a bop at least once

Bops are silly, but they seem sillier when you’re hanging at the edge of a photo not looking as keen as the rest of your cardboard covered friends. Going as something group themed makes it more fun, plus it will be easier to spot who is who if you get lost in a club later.

2. The all-nighter

Oh dear, really you should only do this in your first year so that you know to never ever do it again because it’s so horrible. There will be a time when you do leave that essay to the very last minute, or you’ve been so busy doing fun things that you have forgotten the deadline is for the next day. Pick a friend, crack open the Nutella; at least you’ll be forging a bond you can’t forget.

Mmm, the sweet taste of shame Image credit: PV KS

3. Go to the University Library

There are people who will not enter this book lined warren for their whole time here and it’s such a waste (especially when TCS has its own handy guide). Apart from the awe-inspiring nature of the building itself, once you get inside, they almost always have the book you’re looking for (because others are too afraid to get it) and it can become a personal study space which is harder to create in a college library atmosphere; once I had a whole floor to myself and put on some Whitney Houston, one of my best memories from exam term. Take a friend and take a walk – take a book off the shelf to see where you’ve ended up and have fun being lost on purpose.

4. Get involved in a student production

Doesn’t matter what role you apply for, if you have no past experience, if it’s your college fresher play or at the ADC, the people here are crazy talented so it’s a wonderful experience to work with them up close, rather than just seeing it on stage. The get out/after party that follows on from the show will make it all worth it.

You never know where you might end up Image credit: Johannes Hjorth

5. Go punting

If your college has a punt, or you make friends with someone who has one, use it. Soon they’ll be locked up for the winter and Cambridge is surprisingly warm at the start of term. You never stop taking for granted how beautiful this place is and touring the backs, when you’re starting out, just emphasises that feeling of how lucky we are to be here, but also that we have to enjoy our time, not just run from lectures to libraries.

6. Write for TCS

Shameless plugging of course, but you’d be surprised at how easy it is to write something article-length on a subject about which you feel passionate – sadly not always the case with your work – and then seeing your name appear in print (something to send home…). The journalism community in Cambridge is dedicated to talking about the issues which concern us directly as students, so make your voice heard.

Buddies 4 lyf Image credit: Maddy Airlie

7. Go to Clare Ents and get £1 entry to Life

Clare Ents is a good time. The shots are inexpensive and creatively named, there’s live music, but if dancing and drinking don’t interest you, there is a large lounging area where people gather and chat. Then after that relatively classy event, you move on to the most questionable club in Cambridge, but as the entry is so cheap with your wristband, you should do it once with all your friends so that you can reminisce about ‘that one time you went to Life’ when you have progressed to the sophisticated heights of Lola Lo’s. Though, to be honest, it’s rarely ‘that one time’, but maybe you’ll learn from your elders’ mistakes…

8. Make your supervision partner your best friend

You will have friends that you meet in your corridor, in the queue for matriculation photo, in the societies that you join, but there is nothing quite like having that friend who goes to your college and does your subject. Someone who understands all of your supervisor’s idiosyncrasies, who can read over your essay or problem sheet and talk about the difficult areas, who can be there for the worst and best of supervisions. Maybe it’s a friendship that will only last for a term and stops at the supervision door, but normally, the intense bond will last the rest of the year with their gyp room feeling as familiar as your own.

I'll be there for yoooou Image credit: Виктория Мартынова

9. Call home

Of course you need time to settle in, and at times, those first few weeks will seem overwhelming, but that’s all the more reason to pick up the phone. Your parents/friends/assorted relatives want to know how everything is going, if you’re eating enough (you will probably be eating enough just maybe not particularly well…) and what this crazy Cambridge life is actually like. So tell them, share this insane experience so that you can believe it’s really happening.

10. Take one whole day off each week

Don’t work too hard. This is not an extension of the all-nighter, because essentially you’ve come to Cambridge to do your degree and you want to make the most of the amazing minds that work here, but that’s not all your degree is. In your first year, your workload is not as heavy as it will be the year after, even if it may not feel like that in the beginning. However, you don’t want to blink and miss being a fresher, because being a fresher is great; it’s the time to make the most mistakes, to figure out what you’re interested in around your degree because those interests are what keeps you sane, but mostly it’s about making the time to be with the friends you make, because more likely than not, they will be around for a long time and they will matter more than the grades you get.

Whatever floats your boat Image credit: venus62890