Welcome to Interviewing Chu, where every issue we’ll be speaking to a different student from Churchill College. This week we spoke to Sam Holland, a second year Bio Nat-sci and the JCR’s LGBT+ officer, to hear about his experiences as a queer man in Cambridge, admissions mishaps and cheap wine recommendations.
How does it feel to be back at Churchill after six months away?
“I’m very excited to be back! It’s so lovely to see people after a while and get to see Cambridge in the sun after having summer term stolen from us, even if it did mean I had to rush to H&M to buy an emergency pair of shorts after only packing winter clothes! It’s interesting being back at college with COVID-19 restrictions: it’s odd how different everything is, and at the same time, lots hasn’t changed. There’s a weird sense of normality.”
How do you feel about missing your first Easter term?
“To be honest, missing exams was a blessing in disguise. But, I was sad to miss the May Balls and I’m heartbroken that I’ve got to second year without ever getting to experience punting.”
When you pack for uni what’s the one thing you have to bring?
“Definitely my LED lights! I purchased them, after being inspired by my friend Jed last year, and now it’s the first thing I pack. Clearly I have a problem with stealing other people’s personality traits.”
Did you originally apply to Churchill?
“No actually! Funny story, I visited Emmanuel College on the open day and really liked it. When I applied I got the colleges mixed-up and ended up putting down Downing because of their similar architecture. I didn’t even clock this at my interview and it wasn’t until Michaelmas I even learnt they were separate colleges!“
Now that you’re a college dad, what advice would you give your college kids?
“Go to your lectures! Don’t repeat my mistakes and show up on time. If you don’t, you will not understand the content in the future and future you will hate you for it (as I’m now discovering). Also, when Glitterbomb (Cambridge’s LGBT+ night out) is open, attendance is non-negotiable.”
Speaking of nights out, what is the worst night out you’ve been on?
“Wednesday Cindies, week 7 of Michaelmas to be precise. I was there for 25 minutes, during which time I almost got into a fight and then left to go home by myself. On the bright side, I did get free cheesy chips from the Van of Life after crying to the server when he asked what I wanted.”
And on a slightly more positive note, what was your favourite memory from first year?
“Oooh, the Nat-sci Christmas party! Only partly because of the free alcohol! We went out afterwards to Glitterbomb and all my first year friends were there, so it was such a lovely way to end first term! Also, just watching Netflix in my room with some friends. We used to make up the funniest drinking games to different shows and we’d always end up dying of laughter.”
What has your experience been like being LGBT+ in Cambridge?
“In many ways Cambridge is a lot more open-minded than Cornwall, where I grew up. I definitely notice a difference in how I behave and express myself here, and I feel much more comfortable in expressing myself through clothes and makeup here. But at the same time, Cambridge is a bigger city than Falmouth and with that comes some more open experiences of homophobia. There are a lot of incredible LGBT+ people here, and it’s a really friendly community.”
This year you’re the JCR LGBT+ officer, what have you been up to in this role?
“Churchill has recently started a Gender Expression fund, which I hope provides support to transgender, non-binary and non-gender-conforming students. This is a huge step forward! We’ve also seen a big take-up of our family scheme this year and have lots of exciting plans for freshers week, such as movie nights at the Chapel.”
What is your favourite and least favourite thing about Churchill?
“I love how green it is here. Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore plants, so being able to walk around plants constantly gives me so much serotonin. My least favourite thing is definitely the forty minute walk to Chemistry lectures at 8am.”
Give us your funniest supervision stories!
“A recurring theme of my supervisions involves being tired: I remember one supo when both my supo partner and I fell asleep at the same time. In another supervision, I walked in looking so dead that my supervisor instantly asked me how Wednesday Cindies was. The tragic thing was I hadn’t even been out the night before, I had just been up late working. Another funny moment was when my supervisor asked about my friend’s social life, but she misheard and thought she’d asked about her sex life.”
What is the best date you’ve ever been on?
“Bold of you to assume I’ve ever been on a good date!”
If dinner dates aren’t your thing, what’s your favourite meal in Hall?
“The Quorn tacos slap! I do strongly dislike how every vegan option has mushroom or aubergine. It makes me want to cry.”
What are you drinking at pres?
“Sainsbury’s house Sauvignon Blanc. £4.50 a bottle. 13.5% – cheap and efficient!”
What’s one thing you wish straight people knew
“Stop asking me invasive questions about sex! I do not want to explain gay sex to you when you’re the tenth person I’ve spoken to about it that night (Google exists!) and is it any of your business if I’m a Top or a Bottom?”
Where’s your favourite place to work in Cambridge?
“I love the Archaeology library: it has high windows so there’s lots of natural light and it’s right next to Nat-sci lectures. Shout out to archaeology students for getting the best library!”
What’s your secret talent?
“My friends would probably say being able to down eight jaegerbombs on a night out but I’ve actually taken up embroidery over lockdown!”
What’s the one thing you think everyone at Cambridge should do?
“Stop stressing. Stop competing about your workload. Chill out.”
What’s one thing you couldn’t live without?
“Not to fulfil gay stereotypes, but Oat milk iced lattes. My Starbucks reward card glitched in Lent term and I ended up getting a month’s worth of free iced coffees. Also sleep! If you ever see me on less than 6 hours sleep, it is not a pretty sight and I will fall asleep anywhere, including supos, as we’ve already established.”
Finally, if you were to become a BNOC what would be the reason?
“Ermmm, we can rule out Cambridge SU president, topping Tripos or becoming a Blue, so probably something like being a Glitterbomb rep.”