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Life in the Bubble

Ever wondered what a week in the life of a Cambridge finalist is like?

Be warned. Those pictures you see of black-tie revellers collapsing on the cobbled streets in the early hours constitute a reality that only occurs over the course of a few glorious days in the summer. We like to call this fabled time 'May Week'. The majority of the time our lives are far less glamorous...

Monday: Waiting at King's Cross to take the train up to Cambridge for my last term at the University (my twelfth term!) Feeling virtuous, I buy a green juice from Pret. The taste of the celery and spinach makes my mouth pucker into funny shapes. Definitely not one of those bloggers who whip up their own green juices just yet. I arrive back in Cam, lug my bag to my house and unpack. Later I head to Mill Road to stock up on Asian goodies such as noodles and lychee puddings, then spend the next few hours revising for my Wednesday mock. In the evening I make a nasi lemak (classic Malay dish) with my Malaysian housemate and her boyfriend, and it tastes so good that I get all nostalgic for Petaling Jaya.

Tuesday: I cycle to the department and hand in my dissertation (!) Then it's time for my start-of-term meeting with my Director of Studies, in which I have my customary freak-out and chat about exam preparation. After lunch I head up Castle Hill to see the doctor and sign in at college, then spend the late afternoon and evening in the library doing more mock revision. During this work session I listen to Clean Bandit's new single, Extraordinary, about ten times on repeat, and try not to let anyone else in the library see my dancing. A has been playing it on the piano a lot lately because he's accompanying the singer, Sharna Bass, in an acoustic session on the 29th, so it's now firmly stuck in my head. It's already got over a million hits on YouTube and I'm pretty sure it's going to be the song of my summer. 

Wednesday: Spend the morning doing some practice questions and plans. Wander over to Newnham College to sit my mock, enjoying the Backs. Afterwards, I head to Caffé Nero for some post-mock sustenance and to go over some lecture notes from last term. I don't last long though because I'm so exhausted from the three-hour mock, which worries me, as in May I have five three-hour exams, and unfortunately four of them are spread across two days. Can I write for six hours solid? Twice?! When I get home I make a bowl of noodles with egg and spinach and let myself unwind by catching up on the new season of Game of Thrones. Feel in hindsight of episode two that it isn't quite the best choice of unwinding material - Purple Wedding anyone?

The Fighting Témeraire, by J.M.W. Turner, 1838
Thursday: I attend a six-hour revision seminar on British Painting (1720-1820) at the department, led by my Michaelmas term supervisor. Feel a bit scared at the volume of images and information I've got to know in less than a month. Drink three cups of Lady Grey (my work tea of choice!) over the course of the day to get me in a working mood.

Image source
Friday: One of my best friends and housemates is rushed to hospital with a kidney infection so I spend most of my day in Addenbrooke's with her. Work a little bit in the evening but my mind is on my friend, so I don't work very well. I empty my brain by watching the first episode of the new season of Orphan Black, a TV show I discovered last year and love.

Saturday: I go for lunch with my friend Anna at Michaelhouse Café. I choose a very tasty quiche with three types of salad and gobble it down too quickly to photograph it! We then head to Starbucks to revise until 6.30 PM. I unwillingly try another green juice - this time by Innocent. Sadly my tastebuds still aren't won round but it feels better than drinking pure fruit juice. See above for a pic of said juice and my revision notes - a typical vignette in exam term. A arrives from London.

The horror.
Sunday: I spend the day working on lecture notes about Hogarth and Reynolds, taking a trip to see my friend in hospital in the afternoon. I spot this terrifyingly colourful, giant fungus in a tree. I could never, ever become a mycologist - mushrooms are too creepy unless they're safely in a nice risotto! They make me think of the 'morel', the sentient fungus in Brian Aldiss' Hothouse. Later A takes me out for dinner at Côte and I order a delicious sirloin steak, green beans and a créme brûlée for pudding. I'm always so pleasantly surprised by Côte - like Byron, they never let me down!

Monday: A and I grab flat whites and pastries from the legendary Fitzbillies on our way to the University Library. Unfortunately the wifi isn't working properly in the UL so we decamp to EAT. I love working there - the upstairs level is always filled with light, there's strong wifi and lots of plug sockets! Oh, and it's usually empty *misanthropic chuckles* Over the course of four hours I transcribe five weeks' worth of lecture notes and add about a hundred images to a Word Doc repository for my visual exams. Pinterest comes in surprisingly useful for memorising images - who says social media can't help with revision? I receive a very exciting tweet from the beautiful Lucy from Fashion Me Now informing me that I've won her Flannels giveaway, including a Kindle, a Kindle case, summery beauty products and a £50 Flannels voucher. I never win anything, so this news absolutely makes my day and I don't stop smiling for the rest of the afternoon. Best work motivation ever! In the evening, A and I cook a creamy courgette pasta (recipe from BBC GoodFood - mmm!) and watch Kevin McCloud's new programme, Kevin's Supersized Salvage. It's about taking a decommissioned jumbo jet and upcycling every single part to avoid landfill horrors. The end products are really cool and it's making me think twice about how much I waste. 

So that's a typical week in finals term, featuring lots of TV and food. I can't wait to show you all May Week - it's far more photogenic!

Have a productive week! I'll leave you with some links for your Wednesday.

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