The Cambridge Advantage: Work hard, play hard
There's a great social scene here and most students describe their life in Cambridge as 'work hard, play hard' - it's always amazing how much they fit in alongside their studies!
There are hundreds of clubs and societies to get involved in, and throughout term-time there's a whole range of student-organised entertainment events (or 'ents') on offer as well. Among the highlights are the legendary College May Balls, held during May week (which is actually about two weeks in June, after exams). In addition, there's plenty going on in and around the city throughout the year.
University is about trying things you've never had the chance to do before (and might never get the chance to do again). At Cambridge, you can do almost anything at almost any level, from 'having a go' to semi-professional, and your extra-curricular activities may even provide a springboard for subsequent careers.
Cambridge has a vibrant political scene and more than 50 political clubs and societies with a range of affiliations which allow students to debate local, national and international political issues.
You could also get involved in CUSU or your College students' union; or go along to the Union Society's debates, where notable figures from the media and politics (such as Ken Livingstone, Rupert Everett and Dara O Briain) regularly speak alongside the student members.
Other politics societies include:
- Education Activist Network
- Model United Nations Society
- Wilberforce Society
Cambridge students are very active in a wide range of community projects, campaigns and charity work, both locally and worldwide.
Considerable energy goes into planning and running various University-wide and College-based RAG events. Every year, Cambridge RAG raises over £160,000 for local, national and international charities in all manner of ways, such as the Jailbreak, when sponsored students have to get as far away from Cambridge as possible without spending anything. Former jailbreakers have reached Singapore, Los Angeles, Finland, Dubai and Morocco.
Other community and charities groups include:
- Beyond Profit
- Student Community Action
- Howard League Society
If you'd like to try your hand at journalism, there are three regular term-time student newspapers (Varsity, The Cambridge Student and The Tab) and a variety of other publications that you can get involved in. The University also has a number of prizes for original student writing.
In addition, there are groups for those interested in film-making and photography, such as CU-TV; and the University's award-winning radio station, Cam FM, is always keen for new members. Presented, engineered and managed by students, training is offered in many aspects of radio, and there are plenty of opportunities to have a go at presenting a show or support the running of the station.
Other media societies include:
- Nutter Comedy Magazine
- Photographic Society
Cambridge is renowned for the amount and quality of its student-produced drama. Most well-known is the Cambridge Footlights, where many now-famous comedians and actors started their careers. Based in the ADC Theatre, the Footlights stages fortnightly 'Smokers' (informal evenings of original sketches and stand-up), as well as putting on four main shows, and performs at the Edinburgh Fringe each year.
However, Cambridge Footlights is just one of around 30 drama societies and groups, including:
Auditions are often open to all and the opportunities don't just include being on stage - you can have a go at directing, producing, set design, lighting, sound, stage management, costume, make-up and front of house.
To support all this drama, there are excellent facilities. In addition to the ADC Theatre, a number of Colleges have their own purpose-built auditoria and several major productions take place in the city's Corn Exchange and Arts Theatre. During May Week, College gardens also become theatres for open-air summer productions.
Other drama societies include:
- European Theatre Group
- Light Entertainment Society
- Musical Theatre Society
There's a great deal of music-making at the University and all sorts of music can be heard in College common rooms, the University Concert Hall, and venues in the city itself.
There's an enormous range of musical societies and student bands catering for any style and though you have to audition or have minimum standards for some, others are open to all students regardless of experience and ability. Whether you want to sing, play an instrument or be the Musical Director for a student production, there'll be something to suit you.
Acoustic and open mic nights are put on by several Colleges, and numerous bands, choirs, and orchestras regularly record and tour nationally and internationally. The Faculty of Music sponsors a great array of musical activities too, including supporting student-organised concerts, and offers masterclasses and workshops.
If you're an organist, singer/chorister or play an instrument to a very high standard, you may like to consider applying for one of our music awards. For more information about Organ Scholarships, Choral Awards and Instrumental Awards, see the Music Awards webpages.
Music groups include:
- Show Choir
- Society for World Music
- Jazz Orchestra
Currently, there are more than 750 clubs, societies and groups to choose from, and the number keeps growing! As well as those already mentioned above, there are societies relating to:
- the environment
- food and drink
- games and hobbies
- science and technology
- academic subjects
See the Societies Directory on the CUSU website for the full range.
If there isn't a group or society for your particular passion or interest at the moment, you could start one yourself - all you have to do is find a few like-minded people.