Immediately after coming to Cambridge, I got told loads of tips and tricks about everything starting from how to handle the workload, which societies to join to which washing machine works the best. Half of them I know I've forgotten and I don't even remember knowing most of the other half. There is, however, one message that was conveyed so many times and was given so much emphasis that I could not even dream of forgetting it: you are not here by mistake.

No matter how much everyone tries to deny the phrase, it is instrumental to accept it if one is to get through the extremely demanding schedule and intense academic endeavors. During fresher's week, most of my conversations with people ended up with them expressing their doubts about whether they deserve to be here or if they truly feel up to the task. A phrase that could be heard quite a lot was 'I'm not the typical Cambridge student'. After hearing about the mythical 'typical Cambridge student' I found out that nobody really knows what that person is like, they only know what they're not like and silently place themselves in the latter category. In my opinion, 'the typical Cambridge student' is all of them. Some had their personal statements full of competitions and extracurriculars where they were able to showcase their full potential, some had little to base their hopes on other than half-decent grades and the undying support of their mother. Some considered themselves too different to get a place, some thought they were too average. None of these concerns should discourage anyone from applying; the admissions tutors are extremely skilled in distinguishing potential from past opportunities. At the end of the day, the typical Cambridge student simply has a penchant for their subject and is willing to do the hard work and accept the commitment that comes with earning a place at Cambridge.

That being said, the aforementioned commitment mainly means loads of hard work that is at the forefront of the Cambridge student life. The entire view on time management of the average student changes. Studying is no longer something we actively start doing when we force ourselves out of the default position of doing nothing. Instead, studying becomes the default. Unless one is actively doing something different (engaging in extracurricular activities or enjoying the Cambridge social life), they should be studying. That is not to say that there is nothing more to the life of a Cambridge student other than studying. Studying merely becomes the thing around which we plan our time, the springboard for all other further commitments.  

Even though the prestige and the job prospects that Cambridge degree offers are a welcome feature of the entire experience, these factors are not going to be there for us at 5 am at the library, working on an essay or finishing up the assigned reading. Unsurprisingly, studying at Cambridge is the least impressive when one is actually at Cambridge, because everyone is in the same situation. Therefore, nothing but a genuine enjoyment of one's subject can suffice in helping us get through the work.

Despite that, with a little bit of prioritising and time management, one can take full advantage of all the activities and events going on here. Cambridge is a bubble where things keep happening and soon enough one can't decide between spending times with new friends, attending talks given by everyone from Caitlyn Jenner to Stephen Hawking or joining some group events including sport happenings or dog therapy.

Long story short, the life of the typical Cambridge student is intense in every way possible. In Cambridge, shocking things don't happen often. Instead, one's daily life as a whole moves to unexplored levels. In the presence of willingness and interest, nobody should feel discouraged from joining in on the fun.


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