Freshers’ 2015: the whirlwind of Michaelmas
by Ellen Gage on 13 January 2016
The start of a new term in Cambridge has been a great time to reflect on the highs of my first eight weeks here. When I first found out that I was coming to Lucy, I devoured last year’s freshers’ blogs as I couldn’t wait to get started at the College. I hope this blog provides similar excitement as to what awaits future Lucy students!
Lucy is undoubtedly the friendliest college in Cambridge and I had friends from the first day. The wonderfully international atmosphere means that travel around the world will never be lonely as I’ve made friends from across the continents. The bonus of attending a mature college is that everyone has a fascinating story to tell and comes from different backgrounds, including fashion, journalism, hospitality, caring, politics and theatre, like myself. It goes to show that it is never too late to change passions and do what you really want to do.
As an English Literature student I’ve travelled through two hundred and fifty years of writing and culture in eight weeks and been introduced to Practical Criticism - and I’m still alive eleven essays later! We’ve also been getting to grips with Middle English - don’t be fooled by the name, the ‘English’ of the fourteenth century was a melting pot of French, Latin, Old English, Old Norse, Dutch… I felt I was more likely to have understood Russian at first glance than the language of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but after guidance from my supervisor and practice, the de-coding and translation of Middle English is actually rather fun. I’m particularly fascinated by the crossovers between literature and other art forms and cultures, so it has been a treat to study Italian Literature in translation with a fellow at Pembroke College. I’m looking forward to studying the Renaissance this term and exploring the Italian influences on Wyatt and Surrey.
The level of opportunity at Cambridge is incredible. I’ve been to an intimate poetry reading given by Wendy Cope at Sidney Sussex and been able to hone my writing skills outside of the curriculum: I’ve discussed my critical writing with the Deputy Editor of the TLS, who is also a poet in residence at St John’s, and attended a workshop given by college President Jackie Ashley and her husband Andrew Marr after I contributed to the first Cavendish Chronicle of the year.
Outside of work I seem to have spent most of my income on fancy dress costumes for bops and formal swaps. I’ve been Taylor Swift, the White Rabbit from Alice, a witch (very original Halloween costume) and a sparkly Dairy Milk bar (well, sort of) for Lucy’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory bop. In week two I dived headfirst into college life and went from going to parties to organising them as part of the new Ents team with my friends Maddy and Julie. It’s been a great way to meet the Lucy girls and students from other colleges. I’ve dined at formal halls at four colleges so far and it’s my ambition to get round all thirty-one by the time I graduate. (I suppose I could always do a Master’s if I fall short.) In addition to eating I’ve also been on the other side by taking part in Cambridge’s very own Come Dine with Me for charity. Somehow I managed to get away without doing any of the cooking. Perhaps my friends were trying to tell me something?
Determined to take part in a team sport, I decided it would be a good idea to play my first game of netball in seven years on the coldest day of the year. It’s hard to catch a ball when you can’t feel your hands. That was my excuse, anyway. Needless to say that I haven’t donned my netball kit since. Other physical activity has included my adventures with college bike, Boudicca. I bravely began to ride my chariot around Cambridge after several weeks of fearful avoidance. I’ve only fallen off once. So far.
I managed to pack a lot in to my first term in Cambridge, and loved every minute! The secret to survival? Naps. The afternoon nap is no longer just for the baby or pensioner – I make like a Mediterranean and take a siesta to make the most of what’s on offer.