What comes to mind when you think of Freshers’ Week? Is it the all-night partying, losing your voice while screaming along to Taylor Swift at 2am or perhaps those butterflies when you meet your soon-to-be best friends?
Well, scratch all that…
COVID-19 has distorted what should have been a week of mingling with others in close proximity and actually being able to hear what people’s names are without those dreaded masks. We have forgotten what it is like to ‘pre-drink’ at a decent hour instead of, “well, the pubs close at 10pm, if it takes me an hour to get ready, I also need to eat something, so I´ll start prepping at 4pm.” And not to mention, the adrenaline pumping fear of getting portered hosting a party in your room has now transitioned into the possibility of getting portered in a gazebo. Times are strange!
Despite all the new rules and regulations, the JCR committee managed to host an assortment of events that were positively received by freshers.
One of the highlights of the week was a live band night, which was organised by the ENTS officers, Karim, Charlotte and Sophie. Lucy, who happens to be my college daughter (nepotism at its finest), said, “The live band night was truly amazing. The table set-up under the gazebos was brilliant and the atmosphere was phenomenal”. Another fresher Alice added that “whilst we swapped clubbing for a live jazz band, it showed when you have enough to drink anything is fun!” Several MCR members were overheard grumbling about how much they wanted to attend the jazz night – better luck next year guys!
At the BBQ, freshers were introduced to their families and lectured on the perils of Cambridge by their wearied parents (Danger Spoons beware!). Constance and Alfie, the JCR Welfare Officers, matched families based on subject, as well as personalities, hobbies and wider interests. Fresher Libby said that she “really enjoyed the family BBQ night, as it was fun expanding friendships to older years. It was nice knowing that you have someone to turn to who has been through it all before.”
Throughout the week, the JCR Mental Health Officer, Katherine, organised ´speed friending´. Freshers were able to chat to people outside their household (at a 2m distance, of course). Fresher Danielle said, “Despite the initial awkwardness, speed friending was definitely a great way to meet people outside my household.”
Freshers did not miss out on the traditional ‘dress as your subject’ event either. The ENTS officers organised a pub quiz night in the marquees, which was topped off by a costume competition. Fresher Emily said, “My highlight had to be the pub quiz in the marquees. It was a good opportunity to get to know the other people in my staircase and get a little bit competitive too!”
The JCR Equal Opportunities, BAME and LGBTQ+ officers organised workshops for freshers. Marta, the equal opportunities officer, said that “educating the college community on privilege will help build the student, staff and fellow community.” BAME officer, Nkem, added that “BAME freshers got a chance to get to know each other through a BAME freshers zoom event and seemed to really enjoy it.” The freshers were grateful for the inclusion of diversity talks. Freshers commented that the talks made their experiences feel recognised and normalised. Some commented that the talks were “a real eye opener”.
Freshers finished off the week with a punt in the rain – which is nearly as iconic as students punting using vodka bottles as paddles. Fresher Amelia said, “punting in the pouring rain was a memorable experience – it was not what we expected but it felt like a very dramatic and iconic moment!”
The JCR president Hannah thanks the JCR committee for all their help in organising activities for Freshers Week.
I believe that we all owe a great debt of gratitude to all those who worked tirelessly to make Freshers’ Week a success!