The average gestation of a fox is 51 days. There are also exactly 51 days between finding out A-level results and then going to Cambridge. Being brought up in a farming community, I have been trained to hate foxes nearly as much as badgers – but I am starting to feel an element of sympathy for the pregnant fox. After the initial euphoria of exam results, frolicking through grassy pastures and sipping Pimms, comes the anti-climax. Then there’s the bit in-between, when time ticks over rather slowly and your anxiety and excitement builds and builds. I guess you could say it’s a bit like being pregnant?
During this ‘pregnancy’ I decided to teach myself the lingo of Cambridge, having already humiliated myself in front of my old headmaster by saying that I was hoping to go on a Ski trip to Varsity in December; I now know Varsity is no where near Val d’Isère. Saying that, my friends thought that PBS was something to do with my menstrual cycle and my Dad nearly had a coronary when he thought I had developed a sexually transmitted disease after setting up my Hermes email account.
Linguistically, I may not be endemic to the city but I need to adapt, so I’m currently trying to eliminate my 'ay ups' and ‘ducks' using Skinner’s principles of Operant Conditioning (chocolate is the best reward in my case).
Another country metaphor one could apply to ‘the bit in-between’ is that of a field; I am over the first style but still walking towards the first gate. In the words of C P Cavafy, I have already set out for ‘Ithaka' and can only hope that for my next 3 years ‘the voyage is a long one, full of adventure, full of discovery’.
University is all about the journey: the experience, the friends, the knowledge and the stories. Although the degree comes at the end, the official piece of paper is not what will make you wise. At the end of the day, all universities produce a similar outcome – getting across to the next field. Perhaps what makes Cambridge unique is the walk across the grass; that’s why I chose Murray Edwards College – because you can!
But, whether you skip, hop, jump or zigzag, you must never run. Even ‘the bit in-between’ is intrinsic to the journey, and writing this has made me realise I need to stop sprinting across the field, but slow down, appreciate the view, pick the flowers and arrive when the time comes.
'Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.'
– C P Cavafy, Ithaka [http://www.cavafy.com/poems/content.asp?cat=1&id=74]