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Department of Geography


What’s life like at Cambridge?

Find out more about typical student life at Cambridge.

A day in the life

A week in the life

My name is Sam, and I’m a first year Geographer at Robinson College.


Morning – Attend the one lecture that I have a day. Geography is a less demanding subject in terms of physical contact hours in the lecture theatre, but requires a lot of independent reading. The lectures aren’t always so easy but it’s good to talk to other people from other colleges afterwards to see what they understood and what they didn’t and to go through ideas together. When I get back I use the hour before lunch to get my room tidied/call home/get my books from the library ready for the afternoon. Then go down for a gorgeous lunch! I’d recommend eating in college (not only are the kitchen/gyp rooms not social or practical but it’s a good time to catch up with everyone, especially those not from your subject).

Afternoon – I save the afternoon for work. I don’t use all afternoon but I like to work at my own pace. To put it into perspective most essays take me around 8-9 hours in total of reading and writing, with the more challenging piece of physical geography taking me around 11 hours to understand key concepts and terminology. In hindsight (I have mocks coming up) I’m going to try and use this time to write up lecture notes too.

Evening – Rehearsal. In my first term I joined the Cambridge Musical Theatre Society (CUMTS) for their production of Sweet Charity which meant a lot of rehearsals. Whilst tiring and sometimes at awkward times, I got to go into so many different colleges and I met lots of people outside of my college too (all with similar interests to mine!) When I get in I either finish off the last bits of work or chill out with a hot chocolate and watch something on Netflix.


Lecture, lunch, and chill out. Spend the afternoon reading for my essay. In the evening I have the Geography Hall. These are once every term and are organised by our Director of Studies. It’s a chance for all of the Robinson Geography students from all years to get together and chat over a nice three course meal (and usually some free wine too!). A guest is invited too, such as one of the Geography supervisors and they are always interesting to talk to! After formal get ready and head out to ‘Cindies’ (or Ballare if you want its official name) in the evening. It must be the worst nightclub in all of Cambridge, perhaps even of anywhere, but it is a good laugh. I recommend everyone go at least once! (If you like your 90s and 00s music, it’s a must!).


After the lecture I spend the hour before lunch in the geography library. It’s a lovely place to work and it’s a good way to utilise time when you’re busy. Then it’s lunch back in college and then an afternoon of reading and brainstorming ideas for my upcoming essay. At around 3.30 I cycle to the Geography Department for a lab session (a computer session) for an hour’s work (although you can go in with an earlier class if you just want to crack on) on GIS, Statistics, Graphs and other computer based skills. In the evening I might head to the bar for karaoke and a laugh. The college bar is a great place in the evening; very sociable with comfy sofas and cheap drinks too!


Go to my lecture, eat lunch and then have an afternoon of work beginning to plan and write my essay ready for hand in at the weekend. I like to have all my stuff done earlier than needed. It’s a weight of my shoulders and I can get first choice of the library books for the next essay. Mid-afternoon I head to Emmanuel for an additional singing rehearsal for the Show Choir before stopping off in the town on the way back to do some shopping. In the evening I have another rehearsal at Christ’s for the musical before coming home and cooking some pasta before bed.


Go to my lecture, eat lunch and then have an afternoon of work. If I’m finding it hard I catch up with some of the others on my course and work through some ideas with them. In the evening I have ‘Show Choir’ Rehearsals. Whilst somewhat inconveniently placed on a Friday night, they have their own weekly socials too, so we all stay up late drinking wine, eating crisps and or pizza and chatting about various things such as languages and our favourite musicals.


LAY IN – Cambridge isn’t about working 24/7, it’s just about working hard and organising your time. So take time to do ‘normal things’ like have a duvet/Netflix day and just chill out. I’d have rehearsals in the afternoon and then just spend the evening doing relaxed work on the essay. At around 10.30pm I head out on my bike to the ADC for a late show. I’d never seen a show that starts at 11pm until I came to Cambridge but it fits with my sleeping pattern and I use the time to catch up with my best friend from at home who’s at Emmanuel. I’d highly recommend the cocktails at the ADC bar too! When I get back I read over my essay that I finished and double check it before sending it off before the deadline.


Sunday was also a busy day for rehearsals. Afterwards I’d either go window shopping, or come home. Sundays are good for all the small things I don’t get time for during the week; organising my diary and planner, and doing the laundry for example. Sometimes I’d spend the evening out, but usually I settle down to a nice film after a long week.


  • There is so much on offer here in Cambridge and sadly you can’t do it all, but do give some things a go! Most supervisors and DOS’ are highly supportive of extracurricular activities as long as ultimately you put your studies first!
  • Don’t worry about the workload. If you’re organised and you want to do well it’s more than manageable.
  • In my first term I was in two shows (a musical and a late show) and went out for meals (no less than three with friends from college/rehearsals). It’s okay to be busy, if you’re organised. I even managed to have my boyfriend come to visit and a weekend free to visit him and go home for my dad’s birthday.
  • It’s all about taking opportunities and being organised!