Advice to Visiting Language Students

Ian Kitching, 1996
This is addressed to the tens of thousands of European teenagers who descend on Cambridge in the Summer, not to the more mature students present all year round.

Going to Pubs

Go in a large group - the larger the better. Stand just inside the door for at least five minutes and then begin wandering around until you find a table you like - don't choose the first available table.

Settle down there and chat for a while - there's no rush to order. The staff will happily wait before coming over to serve you.

When your group is ready to order drinks, remember to order one by one - it's much easier for the staff that way. Don't hesitate to order a complex drink such as a cocktail - the staff will love the challenge.

Wait till the staff ask for money before counting it out: exact change is always preferred. If you're not sure about our coins yet, the staff will be pleased to help you count them.

Remember that all pubs serve coffee - it's one of their major functions.

Once you've got a drink, you're welcome to stay till the pub closes without buying anything else.

If more people arrive to join your group, feel free to take chairs and stools from anywhere around the pub - you won't need to put them back.

Don't worry about encroaching on other groups in the pub (especially couples): English people will welcome the opportunity to meet visitors.

If you feel hungry, ask the bar staff about the food on offer. Ask for an explanation of each item on the menu and then go back to your table to discuss your choice and, as with the drinks, order one by one, with another drink if you like.

If you buy any crisps or nuts please put the empty packets in a glass or pile them up in an ashtray - the staff will really appreciate it.

If you feel like singing, go ahead! You'll find others will want to join in.

If you want some photographs to record the occasion, ask anyone nearby to take them for you. They won't mind a bit, no matter how many you want.

If it's a nice day outside, do take your drinks out into the street and expore the area, or simply stand or sit in the street.


All language students need a bike so you will need to hire one from one of the many cycle hire shops around the City - your language school will give a list of them.

It's a good idea to go in a large group - it's more fun and you'll have plenty of people to chat to while you're waiting around outside the shop for the last of your group to get a bike.

You'll find that gathering to meet fellow students outside bike shops is a popular way to spend much of the morning, meeting new friends and so on, before moving on to Parkers Piece for the rest of the day.

You'll need to be aware of some basic tips for cycling around the City:

Ian Kitching, 1996

With thanks to Laura Cant

Parkers Piece

Since writing this piece, students have largely stopped hanging around Parkers Piece: in 1995 they caused a serious fire on the Piece and since 1996 have been warned off it. However in 1999 they were back and started fires again, leading to deplorable incidents.

Ian's humour page