Visitation Rights

Ciara Berry 25 January 2014

Despite it being only the first real weekend of Lent term, I think I spotted about seven sets of parents in town, shepherding their darlings into Bill’s for a hearty brunch. I think it is probably jealousy that inspires a certain amount of vitriol on this subject, but then again it is only the first week. I thought that university was a place where you were deposited and collected, a place where you were essentially on your own, making your way in the world. So I didn’t call my parents in months. In my first term, an often slightly delusional email, sent mid-essay, was my primary source of contact.

This kind of behaviour may seem sparse and uncaring, but surely university is the first real test of whether you can be adequately independent (unless of course you spent your 'gap yah' living with monks in Cambodia, in which case you are entirely competent and spiritually enriched). Making a new home and new friends is scary, but it’s a pretty important skill that is complicated if you are constantly being nurtured by mum and dad. Whilst Cambridge makes it easy compared to other universities by feeding us, housing us, cleaning for us, and if you’re at Trinity, making your bed, life here is still very tough. Academia is intensely difficult, so whilst we may be cared for in rudimentary matters, we can only help ourselves when it comes to essays, and feeling constantly inadequate.

Here is where the parents come in. Since my initial elusive contact, I have found that calling your parents is actually quite therapeutic, and I would never be so stubborn as to turn down lunch at Bill’s. Talking to people outside the bubble, who still think that you are at least a little bit clever, is extremely remedial. So yes, I may still pass judgement on the boy in front of me at Sainsbury's, being bought a tonne of red pepper humous and canned artichoke antipasto in week 2 by his parents, but secretly I would rather like to be in his place.