A week normally filled with society fairs, games nights and nights out – or in Cambridge, library tours, pre reading and organising supervisions – Freshers’ Week in 2020 will not be as you know it. Freshers’ flu, rife each year, must now be avoided at all costs. Students are expected to maintain social distancing outside of their college household, meaning that no large gatherings can take place.
This does not mean that Freshers’ Week at Cambridge cannot still be enjoyable. With a variety of virtual and non-virtual events organised by the Churchill JCR and MCR committees, there will be plenty of opportunity for incoming freshers to meet each other and comfortably settle into their first year at Cambridge.
“I understand that life has changed in the last six months, but with some creative thinking and good use of the internet and the grounds available to us, we’ve created a programme that students are happy with and are excited to participate in,” said Hannah Saint, JCR President at Churchill.
“In order to make the most out of Freshers’ Week, my advice would be to sign up for as many activities as possible and to approach them with an open mind.”
The JCR will be hosting virtual workshops and social events, including an online BAME social for Hill Colleges (Churchill, Fitzwilliam and Murray Edwards). Consent workshops and equality workshops will also be held online, ensuring that Freshers do not lose out on some of the important introductory sessions at Churchill.
Fun events, such as speed friending, BBQs, pub quizzes, outdoor workouts and cooking nights, will all take place in person whilst respecting social distancing guidelines. For international students, there will be a Zoom Q&A before arrival and a socially distanced gathering in college post-quarantine.
The MCR will also be hosting a range of in-person and virtual social events for new postgraduate students, including a gelato crawl, croquet and a scavenger hunt.
“Churchill has done a tremendous job organising a vast array of events notwithstanding the current crisis. They have massively exceeded my expectations,” said Jake Sanderson, an incoming fresher at Churchill.
“I really want to step outside my comfort zone by doing things I would not ordinarily do and by taking advantage of as many events as I can feasibly participate in,” he said. “There is an abundance of opportunities to extend our interactions with others in college (even if this is unusually via virtual means).”
The most challenging aspect of Freshers’ Week is the ever-changing Government rules and how adaptable the University, College and students have to be. The whole process, and lockdown itself, has been a steep learning curve, but it has also encouraged the JCR and MCR teams to be more creative with their event planning.