One of our welcome lectures right after I arrived in Cambridge told us that the friendships and connexions* we were all about to make would last us all our lives.
Blatant classism! I thought. Literally announcing that who you know is important!
At the time, I was on a short-term exchange from a large state college, and this seemed like a peek into how the other half lives. Actually, the entire course seemed like that, reading classics at Cambridge was a wonderful academic dream, while at back at my school, I was always having to explain what classics is. Anyway, that moment from the welcome lecture stayed with me because it seemed somehow un-American and un-democratic to announce that who you know will affect your future great deal, and that meeting Cambridge students was naturally a huge leg up on the chauvs** back at my state school.
I was recently talking to a work contact, and the moment I found out he also went to Cambridge, my perception of him changed. I want to say that I immediately though he was quicker or cleverer now (That reminds me, another of our lecturers said that Oxford students are led to answer questions, while Cambridge students discover which questions to ask, which blew my mind because back at my state school, students learn how to show up on Fridays to take the obligatory reading comp quizzes), but instead I thought, Oh! Just like me! Let’s be friends! Even though we didn’t live in the same college, have the same major, or even attend at the same time. Basically, I instantly warmed to this person entirely based on mutual familiarity with the train station, the Eagle, and possibly a couple of classrooms.
I wonder if that’s what that welcome lecture meant.
*Spelled that way because this was in the UK, obviously.
** Still in the UK.