Information for Freshers

Arrival information | Freshers' Week | Further information

This page provides arrival and first week information for new graduate students. Our main source of information on settling in is the Freshers' Guide. The current MCR Committee have also compiled a brand new guide to provide the most up-to-date information about starting at Sidney. The Freshers' Week timetable is also available. Below you'll find advice on travelling to Cambridge, what to do in your first week at Sidney, and how to seek answers to any queries you may have.

Arrival information

What to bring | How to get here | When to arrive | Get in touch

What to Bring

  • Clothing: Compared to the UK average, Cambridge is cold in winter and hot in summer; statistically it is apparently dry, but that doesn't seem to prevent it from raining frequently. You can wear whatever you like most of the time (graduate students typically dress informally, and no-one wears academic dress to lectures or exams), but you should also bring some formal clothing for matriculation, graduation and formal dinners. You will also need a gown for some formal occasions, including in your first week (more details below).
  • Towels and bedding: You will require your own bed linen unless otherwise advised. In college rooms, a duvet and pillows will be provided.
  • Kitchenware: There is no guarantee that there will be any pots, pans, crockery or cutlery in college accommodation, although there is often some from fellow students (or left by previous occupants). It is not difficult to buy this fairly cheaply in Cambridge, though, so if you travelling far you might prefer not to bring any. If you live in/near college, you might also want to eat in Hall, especially as kitchens in college accommodation (particularly on the main site) are often small: see food.
  • Furniture: If you are living in college accommodation, you will have at least a bed, desk, chair, lamp and somewhere to store clothes etc., although provision varies between rooms. Do not bring furniture or white goods with you, as you may find there is nowhere to put it!

Travel: How to Get Here

If you are flying, the best airport to choose is Stansted (STN) if you have the choice: there are frequent, quick and affordable direct coach and train services to Cambridge. Failing that, the other 'London' airports Luton, Heathrow and Gatwick (in order of distance) are the usual alternatives.

If you are choosing between coachand train, you may prefer the coach. The bus station and coach stops are much nearer to Sidney than the train station, so you could walk here rather than wait for a bus or taxi. If you are coming from the airports with luggage, coaches also avoid having to change in (or travel across) London, but the journey generally takes longer.

If you are arriving by car, please be aware that Cambridge has many one-way streets, often protected by rising bollards, so it is best to plan your route online. Cambridge is often very busy on the weekend before Michaelmas Full Term (when most students arrive), and parking is in short supply, in college and elsewhere. In general, you will first find yourself on a ring road, and should follow signs to the historic city centre, but navigating to Sidney's (small) car park is not always easy: this can only be (legally) accessed from the south via Hobson Street.

If you would like to be collected from the bus or train station, a member of the MCR Committee may be able to meet you: please contact them via the Committee webpage.

When to Arrive

You should arrive on the weekend before Michaelmas full term starts, preferably on the Friday, and definitely in time for the graduate induction on Sunday evening. For 2015, that is 4-5 October.

If you have arranged to arrive earlier in Cambridge, get in touch (see below) if you need help, have questions or just want someone to guide you to a nearby pub! Drinks are usually arranged for the Friday before term.

Get in Touch

Freshers' Week

Events | Checklist | Computing


The MCR arranges a programme of excursions, parties, drinks out and other activities for your first week in Sidney beginning the week before term officially begins. This year (2019) the fun starts on Friday 4th October and you can see the detailed timetable here. Our events are optional, and most are free: you are warmly invited to attend as many of these as you can! However, please pay particular attention to the college's compulsory events.

The following college-organised events are compulsory for new students. Check the timetable for the specific timings:

  • Graduate induction. Saturday 5th October, Time TBA – Venue TBA, dress: casual. Check the timetable for the specific timings.
  • Matriculation photo. Monday 7th October, Time TBA – Normally Fellows' Garden, dress: smart, with gowns.Check the timetable for the specific timings.
  • Matriculation ceremony and dinner. Thursday 10th October, 18:15 – a ceremony in chapel, followed by drinks in the Master's Lodge (Audit Room) before dinner in Hall (19:00), dress: smart, with gowns

You may be able to borrow or hire a gown for the matriculation photo and dinner, but as they are also used for formal halls and graduation you may prefer to buy one. For guidance on buying the right gown, please check Freshers' Guide: Gowns.

The MCR's Freshers' week timetable is here. ! There is an information session and tea/coffee in the MCR at 12:00 on Friday 4th October and welcome drinks the same day at 19:00. This is a week of events to keep you busy and induct you into life at Cambridge. Keep and eye on the timetable here.

Cambridge University Students' Union (CUSU) and Sidney Sussex College Students' Union (SSCSU) both run Societies Fairs to introduce new students to the variety of student societies and activities in Cambridge:

Checklist - Things you must do

  • Attend the compulsory college events - graduate induction, matriculation photo and matriculation dinner
  • Sign the residence book (Porters' Lodge) and room key if you are living in college accommodation
  • Matriculate (complete paperwork with the Graduate Tutor's Secretary)
  • Register with a Cambridge doctor – see health and welfare information
  • Check for induction events you must attend in your department
  • Optionally, register with a dentist (recommended) – see health and welfare information
  • Students without a UK bank account are also encouraged to open one - more information

Computing Checklist

Departments, colleges and the MCR rely on members using their Hermes e-mail accounts for communication, and their Raven accounts to identify themselves. The following checklist will point you in the right direction for help with the most important IT services.

You can also refer to our Computing pages.

Further information

The first place to look is in our Freshers' Guide, which will answer many questions about Sidney, the university and day-to-day life in Cambridge.

Any questions?

If you have any questions not covered by the guide, you may contact any member of the committee directly.

TH, 16 Sep 2015