Thursday, 9 October 2014


The first rule I learned when I started teaching in San Diego was: “We don't fraternise with students”.

It made me upset because I was used to fraternising – although I didn't know that was the name for what I was used to. I used to go out for a beer with a group of undergraduates in Sweden after a seminar. In Finland, my students would be surprised and offended if I didn't go out for a beer with them.

When I moved to Cambridge I was expecting a very formal atmosphere, definitely no fraternising. Instead, fraternising is the very spirit of Cambridge.

This is the Big Fraternising Week, the first week of term. Yesterday, I fraternised with the new masters students. True, we had to do some course introduction first, but afterwards it was wine and snacks and high decibels of fraternising. In these austerity times, the Faculty apparently believes that drinks and mingle for a hundred students and professors is a good investment

Today, I fraternised with the new PhD students. Wine, snacks and laughter.

Tomorrow, I will fraternise with new masters and PhD students in my College. It is called matriculation. Not just wine and snacks, but a three-course dinner, and afterwards a ceremony with a drinking horn.

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