By Ruby Cline

The buzz of first term is over. Somehow every single society you finally promised to turn up to this term have all decided to host no events until week six. The ballot is fast approaching and so are exams – and you’re not sure which one you’re more scared for. Reality has hit, in the form of Lent term.

The conditions are dire; even the sun waves goodbye by 5pm. That really specific wet frost feeling catches in your throat (one of my 2023 ‘outs’ is coughing in public, and it’s really not helping). It can be bloody difficult to motivate yourself to get out, get moving and grooving in the same way you were able to last term.

And of course that feels shit! It’s no surprise that when life is more difficult, life feels more difficult. Your mind and body are reacting appropriately to their current environment. If you feel like you can’t handle your experience right now please reach out, to someone you trust or take a look at the resources the uni can offer you.

As long as you are safe, happy, and roughly well, however, I’d like to argue that maybe, just maybe, this slightly liminal term can ultimately be a good thing.

It is vital to reflect on the fact that life is not always a highway and you simply must stop to refuel sometimes. Michaelmas is a bit of a self-driving car – you have chosen the destination, sure, but the route and the steering is not yours to conduct. Particularly in first year, events are organised for you; groups form before you can stop them; you don’t know enough about academic life yet to decide what’s worth doing and what’s not. Even though later years start with a bit more initial knowledge, it’s still just too easy to feel swept away, along with any sense of agency over your time and space. Clothes get thrown on the floor, mixers get left on the counter, and any digestion of your term experiences occurs in the weeks after Cambridge has emptied for the holidays.

This way of existing isn’t particularly sustainable, which is why I think it’s so vital to take up Lent as a term of rebuilding. Sitting between the most event-hectic and the most exam-hectic terms, Lent is really the only opportunity most of us get to, putting it nicely, sort out our shit. 

“Insist upon your own verbs, otherwise people will decide them for you.”

So stop for a second. Take a breath. Calibrate your emotional GPS. Decide on your next step. Start a sentence with ‘I will…’ and finish it with something you want to do out of love for yourself, unrelated to anybody or anything else around you. Then go ahead and do it. Insist upon your own verbs, otherwise people will decide them for you.

Personally, I will write. Not through obligation, but through love for scrapbooking words onto a page. Lucky you, getting to read the result. I reflected on why this was something I suddenly felt the need to insist upon – was I not able to do it before? There were simply other things to be doing, I suppose. My Lent term is for words. Rhyming words, words stacked into premises and conclusions, words to paint environments and emotions and everything in between. In this case, words describing words! I asked a friend what she would do, and she said, ‘I will sleep.’ If your answer sits on the bottom rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as hers does, please please please make sure you prioritise it!!

Therefore, I challenge you to make a project out of your Lent term. Build your manifesto and break it down into smaller goals, priorities, and passions.

And we’re right there with you – here’s what the Girl Talk team WILL DO this term:

I WILL write – putting words on a page and then doing something about them is both a degree necessity and the implementation of a long-term passion! (If writing is your sort of thing too, feel free to get in touch on our Instagram or through – we would love to read your articles and ideas!)

EMILIA WILL balance – Lent is a busy term for third year, but it’s vital to remember that it’s also the halfway mark of the last year! Weighing academics and social life into a healthy balance is highly needed to soak up everything Cambridge can offer.

MIRANDA WILL see the sun – in the morning. In the cold and the dark, it’s so easy to get up as the sun is going down! She wants to make a day of the day, and seek out the sunlight a bit more.

CHARLOTTE WILL unwind – the only thing more stressful than staying up late doing absolutely nothing, is worrying about it the next morning, with dry eyes from watching TikToks the night before. The 3am – 3pm sleep schedule has to change.

CESCA WILL stay interested – a degree is an inherently fascinating thing and that can be difficult to remember in the midst of deadlines, essays, and the rising tide of exams. Do what you love and…it might still feel like work but like, fun work!

Now, go forth with this silly, complicated, empty but somehow hectic term. Let us know on our Instagram what you WILL DO.

Feature image credits: Ruby Cline

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