Between the workload of a full-time graduate course and the distractions of College life, it is easy to become absorbed in what is known as "the Bubble" of academic Cantabrigian life. If you think that is about to happen to you, remember that there is actually a whole city full of normal people around you - though almost nothing but fields and fens beyond its boundaries. Try walking across Parkers' piece, onto Mill Road - it turns out, not everyone is wearing a gown for dinner! Those fens can come in handy, too; if the sometimes harsh realities of doing a MPhil or PhD get to you and you need to get your feet on firm ground, just walk or cycle up Adams Road and on the Coton footpath - you'll be surrounded by cows and rabbits within five minutes. Take a deep breath and enjoy the fresh air!
Getting into Town
The quickest route from Robinson into the city centre is along Burrell's Walk (past the University Library), over Garrett Hostel Bridge (known locally as Orgasm Bridge, but you will know whence the name comes once you have crossed it on a bike!) and then Garrett Hostel Lane. Basically, go down the path next to the post-box on Grange Road and keep walking: cross the main road and the river, and you'll be in town. As well as the map provided with your welcome pack, the University sells a very good street map of the city which marks all the College and university buildings as well as other places of interest. You can also find this on-line here or pick up a paper map in the Porter's Lodge.
Food and Supermarkets
Sainsbury's is the main supermarket in the centre of town and is on Sidney Street (opposite Sidney Sussex College). It is open 8am - 11.30pm Monday to Saturday and from 11am - 5pm on Sunday. Marks and Spencers on the Market Square is a more expensive alternative that is open until 6pm on Monday to Saturday and until 5pm on Sunday. The central market is a great source of fresh produce, much of it locally produced (open 9am-5pm, Monday to Sunday) where you will be able to get fresh fruit and veg, fish, meat, cheese, bread and a whole host of other things. For those with bikes or cars, there are cheaper and/or more extensive alternatives:
- Aldi - Histon Road
- Sainsbury's, Eddington (other side of West Cambridge - much larger than the one in the centre of town)
- Asda, Beehive Centre, off Newmarket Road
- Tesco, Newmarket Road
- Tesco Extra, Bar Hill (needs a car to reach it)
- Waitrose, Cambridge Road, Trumpington
- Sainsbury's, Coldham's Lane (far end of Mill Road - much larger than the one in the centre of town)
There are plenty of convenience shops dotted all over Cambridge which tend to have extended opening hours (especially on Sunday after the big shops have shut):
- Co-op in Newnham Village (bottom of Grange Road)
- Co-op, Histon Road (corner of Oxford Road)
- Sainsbury's Local, St Andrew's Street (near Parkers' Piece)
- Little Waitrose, Fitzroy Street (near the Grafton Centre)
The main bookshops in Cambridge are Heffers (Trinity Street) and Waterstones (sidney Street), both in the centre of town. The Cambridge University Press has a store next to Great St. Mary's Church - it only sells CUP books, but at a 20% discount for University members upon production of your blue University Card. There are also a variety of second-hand book shops in Cambridge with a couple just off Kings Parade near St Edward's Church, and the Oxfam second-hand bookshop on Sidney Street stocks a large amount of older academic texts (with all the proceeds going to the Oxfam charity). Heffers also has a second-hand section in the basement of it's shop.
It is definitely cheaper in the long run to buy a gown than it is to hire one for every College dinner. Try Ede & Ravenscroft (corner of Trumpington Street and Silver Street) or Ryder & Amies (King's Parade). A second-hand gown should cost you about £50, a new one can cost from £100 (for the standard polyester version) to almost £200 (for cotton with decorations). The Graduate Union has some gowns that are hired out to Graduates for a small fee, but they do not have enough gowns available to satisfy the demand for either matriculation or graduation. If you do decide to buy a gown, write your name in it somewhere so that you can prove to the porters that it really is yours the night after you have left it in the bar along with fifty others!
If you are coming from oversees you may want to consider getting a UK mobile phone. You can either purchase a pay-as-you-go phone where you top up the credit on the phone to use it or you enter into a monthly contract whereby you get so many minutes, texts and internet data for a set monthly amount. All of the major mobile phone companies are comparable and you can either buy direct from them or from a shop that compares all the different companies in one place. A few that are in the centre of town are listed below:
- ee (combined Orange & t-mobile shop), Grand Arcade
- 3, 16 Grand Arcade
- O2, Lion Yard Shopping Centre
- Vodafone, 23 Grand Arcade
- Carphone Warehouse, 3 Market Street (Comparison Store)
- phones4u, 23 Petty Curry or 16 Market Street (Comparison Store)
All major banks in the UK offer student accounts so make sure to look around to see which one will give you the best deal. If you need any letters to confirm your student status, get in contact with Keisha Sharp in the tutorial office. Below is a list of the major banks in the centre of Cambridge:
- HSBC, 63-64 St Andrew's Street
- Barclays, 9-11 St Andrew's Street
- NatWest, 23 Market Street
- Halifax, 32-33 Petty Curry
- Nationwide, 26-27 Petty Curry
- Santander, 60 St Andrew's Street
Cambridge only has one major post office in the centre of the town now which is on St Andrew's Street. From here you can send letters and parcels worldwide as well as buy stamps and exchange money at the Bureau de Change. For the best rates on foreign currency exchange, visit Marks and Spencers on the 2nd floor in Sidney Street.
The nearest one to the college is situated upstairs in Boots which can be found on Petty Curry and Sidney Street.