The Tab Meets: When in Cambridge

CLAUDIA LEONG sits down with the legendary When in Cambridge to talk gifs, exams and what makes Cantabs tick!

claudia leong gifs interviews procrastination The Tab Meets tumblr University of Cambridge When in Cambridge

Exams are looming large and there’s been no better time for procrastination than now. For many of us, When in Cambridge has earned something of a cult following as an ineffective but addictive method of coping with an essay crisis. I had a chat with the university’s elusive unofficial spokesperson to hear about the joys of being a Cantab.

How and why did you start When in Cambridge?

I started When in Cambridge in July 2012, having seen Essay Crisis and London Grumblr earlier on in the year. I thought if Oxford can have one, why can’t we? It was born from the moments of frustration you get, like when it’s 2am and you have the flu but you’ve still got to write two essays because you left them till the last minute.

I started reposting stuff from my favourite Tumblrs, but gradually started getting more inspiration once term started. You should definitely go and have a look at some of the archived posts, there’s a whole load that I bet no-one’s even seen!


Where do you get inspiration for posts?

I think the sense of humour can get pretty dark at Cambridge, especially during exams, and that’s usually what gives me ideas.

A lot of posts come from chatting to friends or seeing what they’re posting on Facebook. Everyone seems to have some animosity towards their DoS, as well as hating the number of deadlines and wishing they were somewhere else a lot of the time. And obviously there are events like RAG Blind Date and Suicide Sunday which demand to be written about.

Which have been the most popular posts so far, and how do you feel about the explosion in popularity that When in Cambridge has received?

The most popular post so far was ‘Welcome to Exam Term People,’ which I’d had saved up for a while to post at the right moment. It’s hard to predict what will be popular, but usually the simple ones go down the best! I love that everyone enjoys When in Cambridge, because I have so much fun doing it. It’s great to see the number of views it gets, as well as tweets and Facebook shares.


What kind of feedback do you get?

Mainly, it’s either really positive, or people curious about who I am. But I think posting anonymously makes it more fun for everyone. There have been quite a few submissions, especially over exam term, and they’re by far my favourite thing to find in my inbox. It’s great that people share my pain and want to get involved.

What motivates you to post on the site?

I do it because it’s fun, and it keeps me sane when everything gets intense and depressing. It’s also been motivating to see people sharing the blog– for example, there are at least three posts a day during exam term, because it seems like there’s a lot to moan about, especially when you’re revising. As for it being exam term, I just have to try and be organised about the posts, so usually I’ll come up with a rough plan once a week to make sure there are always posts.

But in all honesty I have such a good time with When in Cambridge that I have to concentrate more on handing in an essay once in a while!


How is When in Cambridge going to develop in the future?

I haven’t really decided yet. I’ve always posted over the holidays, if not just a bit less often, so I’ll probably continue, seeing as I enjoy it so much. As for next year, I’m thinking of doing a Facebook poll to see if people are still interested. Hopefully there’s a lot still to be said and I can keep going!

Which comes first, the gif or the catchphrase?

It’s usually the gif that comes first. I’ll see something that catches my eye and could apply to life in Cambridge, and I’ll either use it straight away or save it for a later date. When in Cambridge has become a bit of an obsession really.

If only it could be a legitimate career, then I wouldn’t have to go out into the real world!