It’s time for an experiment. A scientific one. You’ve heard enough from me about my thoughts and opinions concerning life here at Cambridge. It’s time for some cold hard facts – information that you can really use while you’re here.
Now it may (or may not if you’ve ever met me in real life) come as a surprise that I am not a cyclist. I didn’t pass my cycling proficiency. In fact, I’ve never even owned a bicycle. But enough about my deprived childhood, back to the real science.
Today is what I would class a typical day in Cambridge: lectures, a trip into town, lunch, work and a venture out in the evening to unwind. Therefore, in the interest of proving that (contrary to popular opinion) you can survive in Cambridge without being a cyclist, I have timed how long it takes me to get to where I need to go, you know… for science and stuff.
07:00 07:32 08:03 (I’m not good at this whole morning thing okay!)
Meet with walking buddy: 08:30 – it’s always good to have company for the walk to lectures. My Director of Studies last year said the trip to lectures is a great opportunity to talk about the subject and engage in the material we’re studying by talking about it. While this is certainly true, realistically it’s more likely we’ll be gossiping about our weekends, nights out or what’s going on around college generally…
Leave College: 08:32
Arrive at the Faculty of Law on the Sidgwick Site: 08:51 – on a good day the walk to Sidgwick can take as little as 15 minutes – on a bike it’s about 5-7 minutes, but there’s nothing like a walk in the fresh air to wake you up in the morning before your 9am start (well, a walk and a coffee).
Lecture starts: 09:05 – it’s probably worth noting at this point that the number of lectures I have per week drops every term. In Michaelmas I had 12, in Lent it drops to 10 and in exam term it’s as many as it takes until we finish the course, which may be none at all. In terms of lectures per day, this year it ranges between just 1 on my quietest days to 4 on my busiest.
Lecture ends: 09:57 – in the Law Faculty, lectures begin at 5 past the hour and aim to finish at 5 to, but this isn’t strictly kept to and lecturers will always finish what needs to be said and stop at a convenient place.
Leave Sidgwick Site: 10:50 – I had a committee meeting for a diversity initiative I’m helping to run with 3 other lawyers this morning, so we met after our land law lecture in the Law Faculty cafe. This is one of the places I work most frequently because the atmosphere is relaxed and they have some great snacks on offer. It’s not ideal for people who prefer to work in silence, but the Squire Law Library is only up two flights of stairs and offers one of the best views in Cambridge if you brave it all the way up to the top floor.
Arrive back at Downing: 11:07
Leave college: 12:34 – it’s time for lunch but I haven’t got an awful lot in the kitchen at the moment, so it’s time for a trip to the supermarket. It’s probably time to stock up for the week, so I’m going to make the trip (and I use the term ‘trip’ loosely) to the main Sainsbury’s opposite Sidney Sussex.
Arrive at Sainsbury’s: 12:50 – again it’s roughly another 15 minute walk to get to where I need to be – more than manageable! The furthest I need to go regularly is probably Jesus college for a supervision every fortnight, and I can get there on foot in under 20 minutes. I haven’t been late yet and it’s well established that I’m a fan of the ‘roll out of bed at the last minute into the shower to get ready and go’ approach! Top tip – pack your bag the night before with everything you’re going to need in the morning, it saves so much time.
Arrive back at college: 13:15 – I quickly stopped off at the market on the way back – there’s always such a variety on offer so it’s well worth a look around, you never know what you might find. I had lunch in college and caught up with people in my staircase to see how everyone’s mornings had been before getting back to work.
Leave for the library: 13:59 - after a long lunch and chat it was time to get back to work. Today was one of those rare occasions that I decided to work in the library – most if not all colleges will have one, so it takes no time at all to get there.
Arrive at the library: 14:00 – see what I mean?
Return to my room (again): 17:50 – just in time for dinner.
Arrive at the hall: 18:02 – the canteen (though calling it that doesn’t quite do just how fantastic the food is any justice) opens at 18:00 and I like to be there early. Each night there are at least 3 main options (usually 2 meat, and one vegetarian) and plenty of vegetables and sides to choose from, not to mention a salad bar if you’re only in the mood for something light and an array of desserts. It’s all reasonably priced and you can pay using your college card which is convenient – the total for the term gets added to your next bill which you pay off when you pay for things like rent the following term.
Leave hall: 18:36- as much as dinner in college is a time to eat, it’s also a time to socialise – it’s over dinner that I talk to friends I don’t live with and who do different subjects so might not see during the day.
Back in room: 18:38 – back to work.
Leave college for the cinema: 20:40 – luckily I’ve been on top of my work so have found the time to go and watch a film with some friends at 21:00. There are two local cinemas within walking distance – I’m going to the Cambridge Arts Picturehouse which is only a 5 minute walk away if that from Downing. The other option is the Vue cinema over in the Grafton Centre which is only about 20 minutes away, so yet again nothing too far.
Arrive at the cinema: 20:45
Leave the cinema: 23:00 – heading back to college for a quick stop off at the college bar, another of my favourite places in college.
Arrive at the bar: 23:04
Back in my room (for the last time today): 23:35 – time to wind down and get ready for bed – I like to have a cut off point if I can where I won’t work past a certain time – clearly my cinema trip meant this was a safe day.
So that’s that. I think I’ve conclusively proved that you can survive in Cambridge without a bicycle. That’s not to say they’re not useful, but they’re by no means an absolute necessity.