what about inter-year friendships? do years on the whole tend not to mix with other years?
I'd guess that inter-year mixing depends on college a lot. Very small colleges like Corpus mix between years an awful lot, because there's so few people. On top of that, if the second years live off-site then I'd guess there'll be far less inter-year mixing. At Queens', everybody lives on-site, and I'm guessing that it increases the amount of inter-year mixing a lot.
Clubs and societies are great for inter-year mixing - you will find that it's the older people in the club who you will look to for advice and who will teach you things, so you will get to spend a lot of time with them. You're likely to meet PhD students, post-docs and even people who left the university long before you did.
As for friends, most of them are people in my college - the people in my college doing my course are also good friends. I speak to some other people on my course in lectures but don't tend to socialise with them outside of work. I'm not sure what I think about people in societies - I like them, and they seem a little cliquey, but I'm not sure whether I will spend less time with people from college to spend more time with them.
going against the grain here but only because i do an obscure subject (architecture) in that i didnt really have many friends in college. i've graduated now but i'll only be keeping in touch with a very few people from college, notably my boyfriend of coming up for 3 years and a couple of others. the vast majority of my close friends are architects and they are all from other colleges since i was the only architect in my year at Selwyn. the other way i've got to know people from different colleges is through our very own TSR! I would never have met two of my very closest friends had it not been for teh interweb.
And what about "keeping term"? I've read somewhere on Queens' website that in the first term you can spend only 10 nights away from college. Is that true? Are they checking it anyhow? Is the same rule for all terms and all years? It would be terrible, I guess!
Well... I don't know how many lectures I will have. I applied for Chinese.
I thought of flying on Friday evening and coming back Sunday night. Do you think it could be possible? Or will I be so overloaded with work that I'll have to spend every night in the library?
The "keeping term" business: You officially need to spend the equivalent of what they call "full term" sleeping within three miles of Great St. Mary's Church. Since our accommodation at Queens' runs for a week before and a week after Full Term you'd have to spend about two weeks of the term outside of Cambridge to not keep it. And even then, college would have to both know and care that this was taking place. It's not something you need to worry about.
I'm sure you'd be able to get away with the occasional weekend away, so long as you were disciplined during the week.
Is Girton within the 3 miles? I was told it's so far away that most students don't even consider it as an official college, hah.
I heard that Cambridge define the MIT campus and surroundings in Boston in America to be within 3 miles of the church, so anything is possible it seems!