When coming to the University of Cambridge to study, the biggest fear is ‘I will not belong here’. This terrible self-doubting feeling, rampant in academia also known as ‘imposter syndrome’ can be debilitating for anyone. Especially someone from a small country, that had finished a degree in a Greek University, embarking on a long journey of post-graduate studies in one of the best Universities in the world. “What am I doing here?” one would wonder, and “has there really been no mistake with admissions?”. If this is what you’re feeling at the start of your studies, then living in Eddies could not be a better place to be. Because, to me, the most important characteristic of St. Edmund’s, among the so many other ones is how unpretentious it is. Utterly and totally unpretentious.
I came to Eddies in October 2001, with a massive suitcase and very little experience of ‘the outside world’. I had finished my first degree in Greek Philology at the University of Crete and was about to embark on an MPhil and hopefully a PhD in linguistics. I had never lived outside Greece and although I thought I spoke English, it took a fellow Eddie to explain to me what it meant that something cost “eight quid”. I felt weird, out of my depth and fairly nervous. But it literally only took one evening at the Eddies bar to feel at home. My first friends at Eddies were my corridor-mates, on the right-hand ground level corridor of the West building: Joe, Max and Thomas, who were the best people to put a nervous girl at ease. They treated me like a sister, and in return I overfed them Greek food. One of my first friends at Eddies was Plouto that convinced me that we could be a music duo and we should join the St. Edmund’s music society (SEMS). Our first concert at the chapel was an amazing experience, and playing with him at the Eddies may ball (2003 maybe?…) was the best time. I cannot continue enumerating my Eddies friends, because they are so many and a lot of them are still part of my life (David! Vasya!) through texts, through visits, through any way that we can. But it is these friends that made my time at Eddies so important, and made me feel so at home.
One of my very favourite things was, unsurprisingly, the Eddies bar: the tiniest bar in Cambridge (I think) but the absolute best – in it you could have a drink, or three, or have an impromptu debate about Euripides, genocide or Almodóvar’s movies. During my stressful MPhil year, in the run up to my dissertation, I remember rocking up to the bar in my pyjama bottoms, feeling absolutely at home, and just having a chat with someone about something that was not the topic of my dissertation (Ancient Greek infinitives) although I do remember vividly one evening being so obsessed with something that I needed to understand that I entered the CR asking “does anyone speak Spanish” and proceeding to pester some poor Latin American students (not from Eddies) about what Spanish does or does not do with its infinitives. Fun times!
My other overwhelming memory about the comradery at Eddies was during the write-up year of my PhD where I had moved out and lived close to college. Again, unsurprisingly, I was immensely stressed, like any PhD student trying to write up and had developed this nervous tension around my mouth, as if I had drunk 10 cups of coffee (which I probably did) and could not relax my face. It was at that point that new generation Eddies were putting together a jazz band and they wanted me to sing. Initially I thought this was out of the question and I could not possibly fit this in. But then, I asked them if they would consider rehearsing just before dinner, when I had to be in the college anyway. They were happy to oblige and I joined them. During that insane time, playing music with some great people, was the only thing that relaxed my mind (and my jaw) and helped me finally write up.
I could go on forever, because I absolutely loved my time at Eddies, and I have millions of stories from my time there. Most of the stories involve great people, music, drinking, dancing, working at the bar, having endless dinners, and in general meeting the ideal people to make one dispel my early fears: I do belong here, and this is exactly where I should be.