Tourists In Cambridge

Tourists have annoyed Cambridge students for years. CLAUDIA LEONG sees if she can have the last laugh…

Cambridge University claudia clock Corpus fudge kitchen gowns Kings' Parade leong porters tourism tourists Usain Bolt

From Nobel laureates and Academy Award winners to half of the Monty Python cast, Cambridge has always attracted the world’s best and brightest. It also happens to attract a helluva lot of tourists. Not satisfied with the delights of historic architecture (or the free fudge opposite King’s), the chief attraction for the camera-toting hordes appears to be the opportunity to see wild Cantabridgians in their natural environment.

Having recently moved into his fancy new ground floor room, a friend of mine was recently going about his business at college when he found dozens of tourists chatting loudly as they lined up to use his bathroom and photograph his kitchen.

“I told them that this was a private area,” he said, describing how he stood helplessly in his slippers and pyjamas as they investigated his student diet, “but they either didn’t understand English or didn’t care.” Much like a bouncer ejecting boisterous students from Fez, porter intervention was finally required to remove the unwelcome intruders.

Similarly, my neighbour was rushing to a lecture one day when she was waylaid by visitors who wanted a photo with her. They had arrived at the city centre via Anglia Ruskin, and were presumably excited by the prospect of finally meeting a real student.

As it is apparently socially acceptable to make unusual and bizarre requests of Cambridge students, I spent Sunday afternoon wandering about town to meet some of our tourists, and to see if I could get them to do the similarly stupid things. Feel vindicated, my fellow students – the shoe’s on the other foot, now.

Tourist 1

Shruti, from India, is visiting Cambridge for a fortnight. Whilst she loves our town’s scenic beauty, Shruti is disappointed by the fact that there’s no good Indian food here. (She obviously hasn’t yet had the pleasure of visiting Mahal, then). I managed to persuade her to high-five a John’s porter – and get a snap of her in the process. Awkward, much?!

Much more easily persuaded when you promise to buy something afterwards…

Tourist 2

Bizarre request number two saw me convince Susan, a visitor from New York, to don my college gown for a few minutes while I asked what she thought about Cambridge. On asking her for her initial impressions of the Bubble, she replied: “I thought Cambridge would have a lot of history and tradition. In reality, it’s such a colourful and diverse place – I guess I expected it to be a lot more stuffy.” Look at us dispelling preconceptions, one Tab writer at a time!

A gown in all its glory

Tourist 3

Andy’s daughter Ella was asked to do her best Usain Bolt impression in front of the Corpus Clock, and she duly obliged (well, sort of). Andy and Ella are big fans of the friendly atmosphere in Cambridge, but lament the fact that there are so many tourists here – join the club, I said!

Much more adorable than the grasshopper behind

A successful afternoon’s work, all in all. The next time you see a stranger in your bathroom, tell him that he’s welcome to use it, but only if he walks on the King’s lawns first. If nothing else, at least you’ll have a nice story to post on Overheard at Cambridge.