I used to hate autumn. It rains, you have to go back to school and in England you don’t even have Thanksgiving to cheer it up.

But then I started studying at Cambridge University. At Cambridge your term doesn’t start until October, when it’s very cold, so I packed chestnut brogue boots and warm Jack Wills cable-knit jumpers in white, navy and burgundy and little tartan skirts with tights because I don’t like wearing jeans. I moved into my room in this great old Hogwarts sort of castle called Pembroke College, which is known throughout the city for its beautiful courts and extensive gardens. In summer, the students spill out onto the lawns to play croquet and sip tea in the cool shade, but in the autumn a heavy fog sits over the grounds and the leaves of the trees fall red and brown and gold.

In England you drink a lot of tea anyway, but there was something very autumnal about holding a teacup of warm, sweet Earl Grey and watching the pale cloudy sky outside. I’d drink it in my room whilst studying at my desk, with a small stack of books and a pen and notebook and a candle filling the room with cinnamon spice. My room was at the top of a tower, and from there I could see people hurrying along the cobbled brown streets with umbrellas or bags of seasonal groceries from the market – apples and pumpkins and blackberry pies.

I wouldn’t always stay in my room. Sometimes if I wanted to study without any distractions I’d go to the library and surround myself with the musty smell of old books, some of which were over five hundred years old. If it was bright the sun would stream through the stained-glass windows and wash the tables in colour, but if it was a dark autumn day students would turn on the lamps and their golden light would stay burning into the night.

When I wasn’t studying I would spend time with my new friends. We’d sit in Starbucks drinking pumpkin spice lattes, or huddle under blankets and watch scary films on our laptops. Sometimes I’d play hockey of a morning in a little hockey skirt, with the crisp autumn breeze whipping round my legs.

My favourite thing to do with my friends was going to what Cambridge University calls a ‘formal’: a five-course, candlelit dinner in the college that looks a bit like the feast from Harry Potter. Usually you wear a cocktail dress and a gown, but Halloween is the one time of year you can wear something else: Halloween costumes. All across the long tables were cats and witches and devils and vampires, all tucking into our meal: pumpkin soup with warm crusty bread for starters, turkey with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables and gravy for the main, pumpkin pie for pudding and wine and cheese and a coffee with minted chocolate for dessert, all with red wine and port. I remember shopping for my costume whilst strings of lights hung in the street from trees and lampposts.

I love autumn at Cambridge University, and I can’t wait to go back.