Do's and Dont's: Freshers' Week Edition (updated for 2018)
Any transition can be scary, but starting university can be doubly so. You're probably living away from home for the first time, in a city where you know no one, but it's going to be absolutely okay!
Your three (probably) years at Pembroke will be some of the most exciting, scary and enjoyable of your life so far. And whilst there's no one way to best do Freshers’ week*, second year contributor Lucy has some tips to help you make the most of it.
Do: initiate conversations Don’t: worry if you haven’t found your lifelong best friends by Tuesday.
At Cambridge, you'll be surrounded by like-minded people and it's very likely you'll make friends for life here. Getting to know so many people so quickly can be daunting, but try to make the effort to get to know your year. Invite your neighbours for tea, and sit with people in trough. You might remain good friends throughout the rest of the year with people you spent the most time with in Freshers’, but you might not get to know some of your closest friends until after a couple of weeks - I certainly didn’t. Don’t panic if you feel like you haven’t gelled with anyone particularly well by the end of Freshers’: there’s no rule against making friends after the first five days.
Do: keep in touch with home
Don’t: forget about Cambridge
Lots of people get homesick, so keeping in touch with friends and family at home can be a great way of alleviating this. However, remember you also want to be focussing on your time at Cambridge, and meeting the people who will shape your next three years and beyond. I'd highly recommend ringing a friend, or your mum, but make sure you still have time to do all the events and socialising you want to.
Do: try and make your first essay/piece of work as good as you can
Don't: worry if it's not brilliant
Most people's first essays are a bit shit, and that's okay. For my first essay, I had no argument, and misspelt an academic's name multiple times, which my supervisor then went through and corrected every time. I cringed so much, but it turned out to be my strongest paper in my exams. While they might not let it show, most supervisors expect people's first essays to be weaker. This doesn't mean you shouldn’t try at all: in fact your first essay will probably take you twice as long to cover the same amount of material, but don't be disheartened. You absolutely will improve, so just try your hardest, but remember it's not the end of the world if it's not stellar.
Do: enjoy Cambridge's weird traditions
Don't: be freaked out
Cambridge is really strange. You have to sign a book to matriculate, and get to live in medieval buildings - and the whole thing feels a bit like Hogwarts. Your first formal will probably seem utterly bizarre - there’s a gong, gowns and Latin grace - but just try to roll with it. Some people might know what's going on more than others, but if you have no idea, don't panic. Most of the people around you will similarly have no clue, so just stand up when everyone else does and you'll be fine. Matriculation formal isn't a weird test, it's meant to be enjoyed, so try to make the most of a great free dinner!
Do: Seize as many opportunities as you can
Don't: Completely exhaust yourself
You're trying to find your feet in a weird, weird place with around 130 other people your age. Make the most of this! It's cliché advice but everyone is in the same boat: looking to make friends and try out fun new activities.
Go to the Freshers’ Fair, sign up to something wacky, and don't forget the Pembroke Freshers’ Squash either. However, remember that Cambridge weeks (for some bizarre reason) start on a Thursday, leaving you with only four days of Freshers’. Fitting everything in can be a bit overwhelming, so don't be afraid to say no. No one will remember in a month's time if you didn't go to Cindies one night. You've got eight more weeks to go, so don't burn out by day five!