Tips for Arriving in Cambridge
On the pages here, you will find information about directions, how to collect your room key, how to get online, and our advice for arrival at Caius. The Freshers’ Reps will be able to answer all of your questions (you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org).
The first place you’ll want to head on move-in day is the Harvey Court Porters’ Lodge (not to be confused with Harvey Road, where much of the graduate accommodation is located, as the Harvey Court Porters’ Lodge is on West Road instead). Here, you’ll be able to pick up your room key and your university card. Your university card (‘CAMCard’) acts as your student ID, library, and access card, and is used to swipe into Hall and pay for meals.
Another important place to visit is the Old Courts’ MCR, located in the town centre; the MCR is in D Staircase in Gonville Court (the court at the back right of the college when one enters through the Old Courts Porters’ Lodge from Trinity St.), and there you will find your pigeon hole (mailbox).
Basics: Sleeping & Eating
As noted on the accommodation page, while accommodation offered by College is largely furnished, it is well worth considering that ‘furnishing’ here does not include pillows, duvets, towels, or linens of any kind; you will therefore need to bring these with you or purchase them immediately. If you don’t even have the luxury of waiting for Amazon Prime to arrive the following day, there are many shops in and around Cambridge you can buy linens from. Potential shops to buy from include Primark, H&M Home, Dunelm, any big supermarket (e.g. ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Tesco), or Marks and Spencer’s or John Lewis for higher quality/more expensive items.
In addition, while the kitchens and gyp rooms come with the usual appliances large (stoves, ovens, refrigerators, freezers etc.) and small (toasters, microwaves, kettles), none of the smaller matters—cookware, utensils, dishes, cups, glasses—are provided. Again, you can purchase these items at the stores listed above, as well as other cooking-oriented stores (e.g. Lakeland) near Market Square in town. There are currently rules against bringing certain items into College kitchens, such as air fryers, but you may bring rice cookers or slow cookers.
The vast majority of Caius postgraduates (and indeed Cambridge students of all sorts) get around via bicycle. The market is badly inflated during the first few weeks of the term, and those travelling from within the UK might prefer to purchase bikes in towns with cycle markets more favourable to consumers before bringing the bike to Cambridge. The majority of students purchase used cycles, which can be found at several bike stores across Cambridge. One of the stores offering better value is S & G Cycles – a repair shop in the small alley next to the Anchor Pub (CB2 1SD); there is also a vendor at the Market, Monday through Saturday, from 10 am – 4 pm, and several bike shops on Mill Road for those living around the Harvey Road area. Don’t forget to accessorise: a lock is a must (Cambridge is renowned for bike thefts), as are front and tail lights (or else risk a fine of around £50 from the zealous Cambridge police).
To participate in Cambridge rituals…
A gown is the quintessential piece of Cambridge paraphernalia and is of particular importance for Caius students who are required to wear one nightly to enter Formal Hall (but not Cafeteria Hall). These can be purchased new from Ede & Ravenscroft (CB2 1RJ) or Ryder & Amies (CB2 1SP), as well as used from Ryder & Amies. There are particular rules about which gown you need to buy; see the Dining, Gowns & Dress Guides section below for more information.
All Caius postgraduate accommodation is equipped with both wireless internet access (Eduroam) and ethernet jacks. Please note that if you intend to access the internet via Ethernet, ethernet cables are not provided, so you must either bring one with you or purchase one when you arrive.
Fortunately, the college and university have conspired to offer you an exceptionally simple, streamlined way to get going online. Simply head to jackdaw.cam.ac.uk/signup and be prepared to enter more information, usually including your BGS (Board of Graduate Studies) number. At the end of this grand quest, you will be issued a CRSid (a 5-digit identifier including your initials) and a Raven login password (bring pen and paper…). This, in turn, grants you access to the great Camelot of hall booking (the Meal Booking System, MBS), Outlook access for your Cambridge email account, computer login at computing facilities across Cambridge, and other such services as dreams are made on.
If you forget your password, need more information, or are otherwise enthusiastic about this deeply intuitive process, please visit the password management web page from the University Information Services (UIS) at password.raven.cam.ac.uk.
Directions and Maps
Caius has two main sites, the Old Courts, the historic site of the college, which sits in the very centre of town (on Trinity Street), and Harvey Court, located across the river on West Road. Each site has its own Porters’ Lodge, which is generally the first place to go to get further directions or other help (the Caius Porters are eminently helpful and approachable, so do ask them for help if you need it!). There is a hub of graduate accommodation around Harvey Road, where we also have a dedicated MCR space, but there are other graduate houses located across the city – all just a short bike ride from Old Courts.
Dining, Gowns, and Dress Codes
The MCR and College organise several events during the year that will have a set dress code. This can often be daunting to the newcomer who is unfamiliar with which gown to buy, or the distinction between black tie and lounge suits, so below is a rough guide to decoding Cambridge dress requirements. Information about Dining at Caius can be found on The Venn. For anything else, please contact our MCR Dining Officers (email@example.com).
Members of the College are required to wear gowns during all meals attended by the Fellows – these include the regular Formal Halls as well as some other events, like Pre-Term Formals, Matriculation or BA Dinner.
For most graduate students over the age of 24, the appropriate gown is an MA gown (i.e. one with long sleeves that end in a pocket); for most graduates younger than 24, a BA gown (i.e. with short sleeves) is in order. Many gowns will have two black ribbons attached to indicate that you obtained your undergraduate degree from Cambridge: if that is not the case, then these should remain hidden (or cut off). See the diagram below from Cambridge SU if you’re unsure about which gown to get!
Lounge Suit: The most common dress code for Formal Formals, or events such as Matriculation Dinner. Also for Matriculation.
Black Tie: The most common dress code for special occasions such as Superhalls.
White Tie: The strictest, most ”formal” dress. It is only required rarely, for Balls mostly.