Life in Cambridge

University Card

You will get given your university card by the porters on your arrival along with your room keys. It does a lot of things for you, as well as functioning as a proof of your enrolment at the university (useful getting student discounts!). It costs £20 to get a replacement, and without it you can be a bit stuck, so DON’T LOSE IT.

Please note that your university card must not be used by anyone other than yourself. The card is used for

  • College Access: it acts as a key to a lot of locked doors in College e.g. X staircase in Memorial Court, Castle End in the Colony, laundry rooms, the college library (FML), the Library Common Room (LCR),music practice rooms, and the actual college! (side doors, backdoors, gates, everywhere! – this will be useful mostly at night)
  • General University Access: it allows you to go through places that are restricted to tourists – for example, you’ll be allowed to walk through King’s if you show it to the custodians on the gates (during tourist hours). You’ll need to access other colleges, whether for supervisions, to visit friends, or just as a shortcut, and you may need to have your card ready to prove that you do go the university.
  • Buttery: you need your university card to pay for meals in buttery – it is connected to your college bill.
  • Library Books: the barcode on the back of your card is used for borrowing books in libraries across the university, including the FML and the faculty libraries. To enter the UL, you’ll need to scan your card at the entrance.

Never give your university card to someone else – aside from this not being allowed, if they lose it then you’ll be the one without a card.

If you lock your room key/card in your room you can sign out a spare from the Porters’ Lodge free of charge. These  must be returned as soon as you’ve obtained your original key/card otherwise you’ll be fined for the cost of a replacement key.

Internet and Technology

Computing and Networks

Raven is the University central web authentication service. You should already have received your Raven username (your CRSid) and password, and you use them to log into web-based University services that need to identify you. For more information, see

Microsoft Exchange Online is the University’s email service for new starters, which you log into using your email address and Raven credentials at Your email address is in the format Remember to check your email regularly as it will be your primary point of contact with supervisors, the college, your department, societies etc. about accessing email on your devices, UIS services and free Office software can be found at

Internet Access

Every room has a wired internet connection, and Ethernet cables can be obtained from the I.T. Office in O3. Wireless internet is available everywhere in college (though the signal strength varies). In order to use the wireless connection or Ethernet, a termly cost applies which is £34. You can technically opt out of this, but it means you’ll have no Wi-Fi connection! Ethernet connections are available in most rooms but the wireless internet is good enough for all uses.

Use is monitored, and illegal downloading is obviously forbidden. Peer-to-peer is also not allowed on the college network due to the heavy traffic it generates. Note that there is a £68 fine and an eight-week ban for people in breach of file sharing laws. There are two wireless networks you can connect to: eduroam, the main network for students, and UniOfCam, which is used by guests or for short-term use. eduroam is recommended as you do not have to re-login every time you connect. Please note that to connect to eduroam you need your network access token, not your Raven password! Configuring eduroam is easy on most devices and instructions are available at

Computer Rooms

There are several computer rooms in Clare: two in the FML, one in X staircase, one in K staircase and one in M staircase as well as in the Hepple Room (Old Court) and the Colony. All the computer rooms have internet access and printers.


Printing in college costs 4p per side for black and white, and 14p per side for colour printing. To print you will need to top up your account online using your debit/credit card at You can also top up with cash at the University Information Service Reception (Roger Needham Building, West Cambridge Site). You can print from your own machine by downloading the DS- Print Papercut service from For more information on printing, scanning and copying, visit

Defensive Computing

You are expected to use up-to-date antivirus software on your own computer if you connect it to the University networks. You can download McAfee VirusScan for free at Please also remember to make backups of your work (rather than suffer the pain of losing an important essay!)

Need help?

If you have any IT issues and need assistance, please feel free to email the UCS IT rep (Luca Swinnerton, ls2002) or visit Please also email me with suggestions as to how our facilities could be improved.


Bikes AND Lights & Helmet Fund

The most popular mode of transport in Cambridge! There are various places you can get second hand bikes, and lots of people find having a bike very useful. There are places to lock up your bike almost everywhere around Cambridge, including outside Memorial Court, Old Court and Castle Court. One of the bike sheds outside Memorial Court has a locked gate for added security – be sure to ask the porters for the code to get access to it. You are not allowed to keep bikes in your room.

As a cyclist, make sure you have a helmet and head/tail lights at all times. Cycling without lights at night is illegal and you can be fined. The College subsidises the purchase of helmets and lights, to the value of £20 towards a helmet and £10 towards lights per student (to claim for either, or both of these, you must submit a receipt to the Bursary within 2 months of your purchase, and the cost will be credited to your college bill).

Also make sure to always lock up your bikes properly with a good lock – bike thefts are very common in Cambridge.

See the infographic below and for more information about cycle theft prevention and how you can register your bike to help the police return it to you if it is stolen.


Almost everything in Cambridge is in a short walking distance, and Cambridge can be a beautiful place to walk round – walking is often the most relaxing option. Exceptions include Addenbrooke’s (the hospital; about an hour’s walk from Memorial Court) and Girton College (also about an hour’s walk).


Buses can be useful for getting to places further out, such as Addenbrooke’s Hospital or the station. There are multiple local Bus Services which are already fairly inexpensive, but there is also the University Bus, which takes you to most main sites for only £1 when you show your university card. See for more information on the University Bus and its timetable.


You might need a taxi to travel to the station if you have lots of luggage; there are several cab companies, so you should be able to book one easily. There’s also a taxi rank near Christ’s. Otherwise, you’ll find you won’t really need to use them, even if going out at night, as Memorial Court, where Clare freshers live, is no more than a 10 minute walk from the town centre. If you need a taxi in an emergency situation, for example, to go to A&E, let the porters know, and they’ll help you!

Please refer to the taxi policy here:


Clare College doesn’t allow students to park their cars in the College parking lot. There are strict rules set by the University about students having cars in Cambridge (see http://

Food and Services

The Buttery

The Buttery in Old Court, which is accessed by going down the stairs next to the entrance to the Great Hall, is where everyday meals are served. You pay a kitchen fixed charge (the “KFC”) each term to cover the basic costs of running the Kitchens and providing food, allowing the cost of meals to be significantly subsidised – a meal will usually cost between £3 and £5 depending on the options chosen. Buttery meals tend to be cheap and filling and, are for many, the main point in the day for having a break and socialising. Several times a term the Buttery holds themed meals including Mexican, Indian and Chinese.

We have one of the best catering departments in the University, and the food at the Buttery tends to be well-liked and there are plenty of options. The college aims to cater for a variety of dietary requirements, with vegetarian and vegan options always available. Dishes that contain allergens are clearly marked so they can be avoided if necessary. There is also a well-stocked drinks and snacks area which is open at all mealtimes and includes a variety of drinks including fruit juices and fizzy drinks, and snacks such as popcorn, crisps, brownies, yoghurt, etc. During the warmer months ice creams are also sold.

The meals served are as follows:

Breakfast: Monday-Friday, 8-9am Full English, including eggs, sausages (meat and vegetarian), bacon, toast, baked beans, and tomatoes. Toast and croissants, and a range of cereals, fruits, and yoghurts. There are sometimes deals on making this a really cheap meal.  

Lunch: Monday-Friday, 12:30-1.30pm Salad bar, cooked meat and vegetarian mains, sides, hot soup and bread, dessert options, and ready-made sandwiches are available in the Buttery. The Great Hall is open during lunchtime to provide additional seating.

Dinner: Monday-Saturday, 6:15-7:15pm Meat and vegetarian main course options (at least one of each, usually several), side dishes, salad bar, dessert.

Brunch (Saturday), 12:30-1:30pm Full English, and often croissants or other extras. This is many people’s favourite meal: it tends to be very busy and is good time to catch up with friends.

For Buttery menus and other catering information, please visit

Formal Hall

Formal Hall is one of the defining experiences of life at Cambridge. It is a three course formal dinner set in the college’s Great Hall. The dress code is smart (boys wear suits), and although wearing gowns is not required by Clare, people generally do. It can seem a bit intimidating, but it is a really nice way to have an atmospheric three-course meal with friends relatively cheaply! Often people will book a Formal Hall for special occasions such as a birthday.

Formal Hall is open to undergraduates every Monday to Thursday during term time. The cost is £8.55 for Clare students, and booking is done online through Upay (; instructions will be emailed at the start of term. Some nights fill up fast, so if you’re planning to go with friends you’ll probably want to book a week or more in advance to ensure everyone gets a place. You can book for you and up to 5 guests (guest tickets cost considerably more).

You’ll need to arrive by 7:20pm on the evening to allow time for seating before the meal begins at 7:30. Seating takes place as people arrive, so if you don’t arrive early you might not be able to sit with your group!

Cambridge is renowned for having rather old fashioned traditions that accompany formal dining in Hall and for some this can seem rather daunting. However don’t be too intimidated! Clare has removed most of these formalities to what they deem a minimum, in line with the friendly and progressive atmosphere the college strives to foster, whilst still maintaining elements of tradition.

Once everybody has been seated and the meal is ready to begin, everyone stands while the Fellows enter and take their places at the High Table. The gong is struck and one of the Fellows will recite a grace in Latin. After the grace, everyone sits and the meal begins. Bread and butter are available (the bread plate is to your left), and a starter is brought in first. Etiquette requires that you only begin eating once everybody immediately adjacent to you has been served (you do not need to wait for the whole table; that could take a while!). Once the course is finished, the waiters will clear the plates, and then bring in the main course, followed by dessert, and finally tea and coffee. There is also a benediction towards the end of the meal just before the Fellows leave; similar to the grace all must stand in silence when the gong is struck.

During the meal, you are required stay in your seat and behave in a manner fitting to the formal nature of the event. However, despite a few requirements, formal is also supposed to be fun! It is generally accepted that after the Fellows leave, things become a bit more lax and students may move around, take group photos and sing happy birthday.

Note that if you would like to drink wine, you must bring it yourself and there is a limit of one bottle of wine between two people, so don’t forget to arrange this with a friend ahead of time. However after formals people often congregate in cellars for a few pints (or whatever tickles your fancy).

Small Hall

Small Hall is a more expensive and smaller version of Formal Hall. The Small Hall is located opposite the Great Hall and seats up to 40 people. Unlike Formal Hall, which is booked individually, the entire Small Hall is booked out by a single group. Generally, students tend to book out Small Hall for very special events such as 21st birthdays. Many societies and academic departments also organise meals there, often subsidising the cost, so chances are you’ll be able to go at least once or twice during your first year. The menu is chosen ahead of time in discussion with the Catering Department.

The cost for Clare students is £34.74 per head, and the cost for guests is £38.84 per head – a lot more expensive than Formal Hall – but it is well worth it: the food is absolutely amazing and the wine portions far more liberal (depending on the event) – it makes for a wonderful evening. The dress code is decided by the host but is often black tie. Since Small Hall is a private event the traditions listed above at Formal Hall do not apply.

Gyp Rooms

“Gyp room” is the term in the Cambridge vernacular used to refer to the small kitchens that are available for student use. These are located in the same staircases as student rooms, and each one is shared between about 3-8 students, so bring a marker pen to name your milk! Despite the fact they are shared by so many students, the gyp rooms, like all communal spaces in college, are cleaned every week day (Monday to Friday) by our wonderful team of bedders so they remain clean. Don’t forget to empty your fridge by the end of term!

All are equipped with at least one fridge (sometimes fridge space can be a little cramped), a toaster, a microwave, hobs, a kettle, and a sink, as well as cupboard space to store food and cooking equipment. Although gyp rooms tend to be small and not as well equipped as your typical home kitchen, it is possible to cook almost any food with a little ingenuity and patience. Some people choose to cook almost all of their meals in their gyp room; others hardly every cook. Cost-wise, the price of a typical meal at the Buttery is probably about the same as that of buying ingredients yourself, so it is entirely a matter of personal preference whether you go fully self-catered, fully catered, or anywhere between the two.


There are plenty of supermarkets to choose from in Cambridge. Sainsbury’s on Sidney Street is by far the most popular for Clare students, being the cheapest and nearest supermarket to Memorial Court (where you’ll be staying in first year), being an 11 minute walk away. However the range of items provided comes at a premium with it being the chain’s most expensive store. It also closes at 5pm on Sundays but slightly further away is a Sainsbury’s Local next to Parker’s Piece which closes at 11pm every day.

Aldi is a 9 minute cycle up a rather large hill and offers a reduced range of products but at a reduced price. Meat there is very cheap but normally I can’t be bothered to cycle uphill as the rest of Cambridge is notoriously flat.

There are also Tesco and Asda superstores a little further out of town and are far cheaper than the central Sainsbury’s. However it would take around 15 minutes to cycle to Tesco and carrying a week’s worth of shopping back by bike may prove a challenge!

For those who like to splash out, there is a little Waitrose about a 9 minute cycle away near the Grafton Centre. There is also an M&S Food in the centre of town, nearer than Sainsbury’s. However this is even more expensive than Sainsbury’s so I reserve this for truly special occasions.

There are numerous other small supermarkets dotted around town.

Safety Tips

Although Cambridge is generally a safe place to be, each year a number of students are robbed or assaulted. To try and prevent these unpleasant issues from arising, it is really important that you attend the introductory talks and workshops during Fresher’s Week. In addition, here are some general safety tips to follow.

  • Always lock your room. It has not been unknown for items to go missing. You will hear it many times and it is true: treat your room as if it were your home, and your door is your front door.
  • Always lock up your bike effectively as cycle thefts are extremely common.
  • When going out in the evening it is better to walk home with other people rather than alone.
  • Whatever your gender, do not be afraid to carry a personal attack alarm. These are pocked sized (often on a keyring), and can easily be purchased from the UCS women’s officer.
  • On a night out, it is a very good idea to keep £10 aside as emergency taxi money in the event that you have a bit too much to drink and lose track of your friends. In the same light, keep your phone charged.
  • If you are ever lost, feel unsafe, unwell or scared in town, the best thing to do is to head to the nearest Porters’ Lodge at any of the colleges at all and explain that you are a Clare student and explain your situation to them. The porters will arrange for a taxi to come and pick you up and drop you back at Clare safely and securely.
  • If you ever need to make an emergency trip to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and do not have enough to pay for a taxi, speak to the porters who can, depending on the situation, make the necessary arrangements.