Studying at university means living in a (probably) new city for at least three years. Students are required to live in Cambridge during term-time, and quite a lot stay over the vacation periods too. So, what is the city of Cambridge like to live in?
Cambridge centre is full of historic buildings, museums, shops and cafes. Most museums are free, like the Fitzwilliam. About 10 minutes away from the centre, there’s the Grafton shopping centre and Primark, which take you away from the more historic Cambridge. You can go for a walk or a cycle along the river, and there are lots of cycle paths and parks within easy reach of all the colleges. After only a short cycle ride you can be in the countryside.
Cambridge is a moderate-sized, quite ‘spread-out’ city of about 125,000 people situated in the West of East Anglia- about 50 miles North of London. It’s amazingly flat topographically - elevation changes by just 20m or so - with its geographical position giving it one of the driest climates in the UK with just less than half the national average of rain. Transport-wise, the A14 runs East-West through Cambridge, with the M11 running North-South. King’s Cross Station is only 50 minutes by train and Stansted International Airport is within 30 miles - in short, getting to Cambridge is never a problem.
Travelling inside the City
Travelling in Cambridge is very easy as it's a relatively compact city so most people walk or cycle everywhere- meaning travel costs are very low! Initially the amount of bikes absolutely everywhere seems a little odd but if you choose to bring a bike to Cambridge (recommended if you will not be at one of the central colleges) cycling will quickly become second nature. There is a university bus which is subsidised too (the Uni 4) and goes to the majority of the main university buildings.
Lots of social activity at Cambridge occurs actually within student’s rooms, but there are also loads of more public social spaces. Most colleges have multiple spaces within them where students can hang out and socialize. Often the hub of college social activity will be the bar - different colleges have radically different bars, from really ‘studenty’ to sleek and corporate looking. Moving out from colleges, the town is full of places people socialize in - there’s countless cafes, pubs and little eateries scattered across the town in which students can pass a few hours with friends. You’ll never not be able to find space to hang out in.
When you sign up for Cambridge, you also sign up for the workload. Did you know that the University of Cambridge has over 100 libraries, exclusive of affiliated and associated libraries? The libraries are found in the 31 colleges, faculties and the main University Library by the Sidgwick Site is home to over 8 million books and journals. You can also access much of the materials online and can study in the comfort of your room or go to the Central Library at The Grand Arcade. In summer and spring, you can also read in the parks.
Cafes and Restaurants
Cambridge is full of cafes and restaurants, which are great for socialising and studying. Café Nero is a particular favourite of mine, and there are often other students working in there, either reading or on their laptops. University cafes, like The Buttery on Sidgwick Site, have access to the University wifi, which is useful if you need to use the internet. Restaurants and cafes are great meeting places, either to socialise or to discuss work in a relaxed environment - Bill’s is especially good at catering for larger groups. From vegan cafes like The Rainbow Café to Pizza Hut, there’s a huge range of cafes and restaurants to try.
Pubs and Bars
Cambridge isn’t all work, there’s plenty of time as well as places, to go out and socialise with friends. If you’re not up for clubbing, but still fancy heading out, there are a great variety of pubs and bars in Cambridge. For a more chilled night, try a pub, like the famous The Eagle, where the Nobel prize winning Watson and Crick announced they had discovered 'the secret of life'! A number of the pubs in Cambridge host events and talks, meaning you can get involved in a more informal and social environment. If you want to liven up your evening, take a trip to a bar, like Revolution, an energetic cocktail bar that recently hosted the flute sensation Azeem Ward in Freshers’ Week 2015!
Cambridge (deservedly) doesn't have the greatest reputation in the world for its nightlife, but despite this there are plenty of decent places to unwind and go out. People often go out clubbing in friend groups either from their College, course, or a society/club, and the limited number of nightclubs makes for a really friendly clubbing scene as you’ll almost always bump into someone you know while out. The clubs cater for pretty much all types of music, and there's a healthy injection of cheesy classics (S Club 7, anyone?) most evenings and regular guest appearances.