Congratulations on achieving your place in Girton College. I hope you are really looking forward to your time in Cambridge and have a brilliant 3 years or longer. Most of you will arrive in college on Saturday 4th October and begin an epic Freshers’ Week full of activities, excursions and nights out. Be warned – fancy dress is essential! Many people claim events in Freshers’ as their favourite memories of university so really get into it and take part in all that you can. Look out for the Freshers Guide and Timetable that will be released shortly for more details. We’ll be updating these pages when it gets nearer the time so you know what to expect from Freshers’ Week this year, but for now here is a general overview of the Freshers’ Week that awaits you.
Dave Harrison – Freshers’ President
Girton College Freshers’ Week
The first thing to do is to make your way to the Stanley Library, where a member of the freshers’ committee will meet you and give you a pack of information. This will include your room key, university card, meeting times and various other important bits of information. Make sure you read it all; don’t just leave it in a pile on your desk! It’s a good idea to get your computer set up on the network as soon as possible as you may have emails waiting in your ‘Hermes’ account that contain information relevant to the next few days. The instructions on how to do this are in the pack you collected.
The rest of the day is yours to say your goodbyes and unpack. Once you’ve done this – or if you want to avoid facing the unpacking – you can head to the BBQ/dining hall (depending on the weather!) where there’s food and drink being served all day, and get to meet some fellow freshers. Also, once it’s afternoon, head to the reception room to buy your college gown. You’ll need this whenever academic dress is required; meeting the mistress and your matriculation photograph, and also for formal halls.
Although not usually served on Saturdays, you can get dinner in hall from 6pm this evening. Pay using your university card (which has £500 credit, with the bill being settled at the beginning of the following term) but it’s a good idea to bring some cash the first time just in-case. Normally dinner is 6-7.30 on Sunday- Friday, with Thursdays being 5.15pm if you chose not to go to formal hall. Lunch is 12pm-1.30pm Mondays- Saturdays, with the highlight being Sunday brunch 11.30pm-1.30pm. Breakfast is 8am-9am every midweek morning. More up to date times can be found here. After dinner tonight, you’ll have the chance to meet a representative from CUSU (Cambridge University Student Union) and also us, the freshers’ committee. We’re in charge of organising this week and helping you with any questions you have. Once you’ve met us, it’s ‘the underground’ in the bar. We have these twice a term at Girton and it’s a great opportunity to have some fun in the bar with a live DJ, and also get to meet a lot of people.
The chapel hosts non-denominational services throughout term time. The Chaplain is really friendly, and is happy to provide a listening ear for anyone that wants, so it’s definitely worth coming to meet him at his tea party. At some point today you will probably have your meeting with your tutor (time will be given in your welcome pack.) This meeting is really important, as until you see your tutor your student loan will not be issued! You’ll meet your tutor every term, and they’re in charge of your welfare whilst at Girton. Don’t worry though, as this event is very informal so you do not need to worry about your gown or anything like that. Other events during the day include a bike tour of Girton and the surrounding villages, which has always been well attended in the past, and a ‘pimp your Freshers T-Shirt’ session in the JCR. After this, and a talk from the senior tutor, it’s time for “the Hunt.” We don’t want to spoil any surprises, but maybe some good advice would be to wear comfy shoes!
After some talks, it’s time to do a really important thing: register with a doctor. The local surgery will be sending a couple of representatives to the reception room in college, so head along before 1pm. After this it’s the Girton societies fair, a chance for all our college sports teams and other societies to try and persuade you to join them. It’s good fun, and definitely worth a visit. Today you might be asked to ‘sign the college register’ and ‘meet the mistress’. This is when you go and sign a large book to signify starting your course, and also in groups of 3/4 meet our college mistress. This is a formal event, so requires academic dress. For boys, that means a dark suit whilst for girls it is either a black dress or black skirt/trousers and white blouse, and then for both you must have your gown over the top. You’ll be told your time to do this in the welcome pack, and if it’s not today it will be on Tuesday or Wednesday. Once evening comes round, there are loads of things to do, including going the famous Funky Funhouse, hitting up the clubs, or staying in at the bar playing pool or table football.
Today is bike day! After a workshop run by our bike rep, to smooth over any little problems you may be having, it’s off to town. We’ll go in groups by subject so that we can show you the relevant departments- so check on the notice board outside the JCR what time you’ll leave. The CUSU societies fair kicks off today, which is in town, where you’ll get a chance to see what uni-wide societies there are here. You’ll also get the opportunity to go punting on the Cam! Your time to sign the college register may clash with the time for your bike tour- just let us know and we’ll send you with a different group. Once back in college, you’ll have several choices for the evening. Once darkness falls it’s time for the pub crawl, ever surprising in the quality/hilarity of fancy dress; you can join some of us for a cultured trip to see the side-splittingly funny Cambridge Footlights, or, if you’re feeling mighty brave, you could do both!
Bright and early, the day starts with the matriculation photograph at 07.45, outside in Emily Davies Court. Again this requires academic dress- and girls remember that you will be walking on grass and gravel when you pick your shoes! If you’ve not already signed the college register you’ll do that today, likewise if you haven’t already met your Director of Studies (DoS). The CUSU societies fair is on in town again today- exactly the same as yesterday- so if you missed it then you can catch it now. If not, prepare to scavenge the city in a custom hunt across the city prepared by your Freshers’ Committee. Then, an afternoon free in Girton to prepare for the start of term tomorrow- unless your department has an introductory lecture today! (You can check that online.) This evening it’s the Celidh- a really fun group dance that you definitely don’t want to miss!
Here at Cambridge we’re a bit odd; our week starts on a Thursday. This (unfortunately) means most people will have lectures today. To help make sure you get there ok, we’ll have a help desk in the porter’s lodge from 8am. At the end of the day, to celebrate, it’s freshers’ formal at 7pm. Unlike most formals, you won’t be charged for this and don’t need to book your ticket in advance as it’s only open to freshers. As hinted at in the name, this is a formal event so you’ll need to be smart but not in full academic dress, i.e. you can wear colours not just black. Gowns however, are compulsory. If you want to drink, apart from the provided water, you’ll need to take a bottle of wine with you. This can either be purchased at the bar before formal, or you can bring your own and pay corkage- again at the bar before formal. You mustn’t be late or may not be allowed in- people generally queue from 6.45pm, in the corridor between the JCR and dining hall. However, these formalities aside, formal hall is the best event of the week and amazing fun! Once you’ve enjoyed your Hogwarts-like experience, Girton’s Amateur Dramatic Society (GADS) will be treating you to “Girton: The Musical” which last year was one of the highlights of freshers week.
As lectures have already started, everyone will be doing a variety of things today; labs, classes, supervisions as well as lectures themselves. This evening, the whole of college will come together for the freshers’ ent. Ents are a very Cambridge thing (although less-cool colleges may call them ‘Bops’), and are a twice termly excuse to dress up in ridiculous fancy dress, get a DJ into one of the old rooms of college and have a really good night. Wait and see what the theme will be – it’ll be announced on the Freshers’ Group online. On the note of fancy dress, if you come on the nightlife tour that will also be themed (different themes per group), so bring any fancy dress you have at home and be ready to get creative! To give you an idea, common themes are such as: animals, Green (for Girton), sports, countries, historical, emergency services…
This is the last day of our freshers’ week for this year. Some of you (sorry Scientists) will be at lectures, whilst others will be starting on that essay or maybe investigating the library. To make sure you don’t starve with the lack of canteen tonight (we know you might not have found the way to the co-op yet) its cook for your kids night. Your college parents- who hopefully have already contacted you- will invite you to their kitchen, be it at Wolfson Court, in one of the college houses or just on a different corridor of college, and it’s a general chance to get to know each other a bit more. Don’t panic if you’ve not heard from your parents yet though, as if you still haven’t by Saturday there’s an Orphanage in the JCR at 6pm, where someone will adopt you!
These are just a few of the things we’ve organised for you within college. Obviously there are a lot of other things you might want to try this week, and there should be plenty of time to do that. The Freshers’ Committee will also be selling wristbands giving you entry to all the biggest nights out in Cambridge – Sunday/Thursday Lola’s, Tuesday Cindie’s and Wednesday Fez. Make sure you don’t miss out on purchasing the bands as it saves money and precious time queueing. You’ll be able to go to these without missing any of the events in college, whilst people that don’t fancy it just continue to socialise in the JCR or Bar. And if you find yourself with some free time, there’s always plenty to do in Girton from hanging out in the JCR, to going swimming or even heading to town for some further afield exploration. Hopefully this has given you a taste of what to expect from freshers week, and we look forward to meeting you soon!