Vlogging the Cambridge experience: Interview with PaigeY

Astrid Godfrey 28 February 2020

 

Paige (PaigeY on YouTube), a third year Physical Natural Sciences student at Jesus College, has recently shot to fame having passed the 150,000 subscriber landmark on YouTube.

Last year she made the top ten Tab BNOC list (high acclaim!). She’s been vlogging her journey since first year. ‘I was excited to start university and thought it would be fun to film some of my first term. It was all about making a lasting record of the experience which I could look back on fondly in the future.’ Paige had watched Cambridge vloggers such as Jake Wright when applying for university and found the insight into life studying here really useful: ‘the possibility of helping future applicants was appealing, and it all had the added benefit of discovering a new hobby!’

Since starting her channel, Paige believes that she has grown in confidence whilst also becoming more sophisticated at video editing. She’s explored new video styles such as ‘Study With Me’ videos (which have been a huge hit in the StudyTube community), Q&As. live streams, cooking challenges, and interviews, most notably with Sonita Alleyne the new master of Jesus College. ‘I have tried to be responsive to audience requests whilst also creating content that I enjoy, and this has seen me incorporate more study motivation and advice for students into my regular videos.’

‘I have tried to be responsive to audience requests whilst also creating content that I enjoy, and this has seen me incorporate more study motivation and advice for students into my regular videos.’

But Paige believes that the core focus of her channel has stayed much the same. ‘It has always been focused on following my university journey and capturing both my academic and social experiences. Naturally, I have developed as a person over the last 2.5 years – I’m no longer the fresh-faced first year who kickstarted the vlogs, I’ve matured and become more independent. I’m sure this shift can be tracked in my videos.’

Despite all of these new styles of videos, Paige still loves making her weekly vlogs! ‘ I love the idea of capturing memories.’ she says, adding ‘I want all my videos to be realistic and authentic, and the vlog style of video lends itself to this.’ Paige addresses her viewers as she would to a close friend and records her everyday activities and thoughts. She sees the vlogs as coming together to form a long video diary of the past few years. When I asked her what her favourite video she had ever made was, Paige chose her montage-style video of her highlights from second year. ‘It is short and simple, but makes me smile everytime I watch it because it reminds me of some of the amazing times I’ve had with pals at uni so far.’

Paige sees her videos pairing well with the current access and outreach work that colleges do and is herself an Access and Outreach Ambassador in college. ‘As an applicant, I found that [vlogs] were a great resource to demystify the Cambridge experience and application procedure. Hopefully by seeing the diverse range of people vlogging their time here, people will be encouraged to apply and not be put off by false stereotypes.’

Despite the recent success of Outreach, particularly at Jesus College where almost three quarters of students in the most recent intake were state educated, Paige believes there is room for more collaboration between the University and vloggers: ‘Perhaps it is up to the University to engage with YouTubers more – we are easy for applicants to relate to and share the desire to make Cambridge accessible for all.’

“Perhaps it is up to the University to engage with YouTubers more – we are easy for applicants to relate to and share the desire to make Cambridge accessible for all.”

I asked Paige a bit about her own YouTube habits. She’s currently addicted to videos by the channels Jubilee and Cut who both make discussion-based video series with members of the public. Her current favourite is  “Odd Man Out” where they put six people in a room with something in common and a seventh person who does not share the trait and tries to blend in. (I know what I’m watching this evening!) She also watches lots of videos by Thoraya Maronsey, a filmmaker who films interactive projects with strangers, asking a question or setting a task that provokes heartfelt responses – ‘it’s all very raw and real.’ She adds, ‘of course it goes without saying that I am subscribed to all the other channels in the “studytube” community – it’s interesting to see other people’s university experiences and now I’m invested in their academic journeys!’

I know the feeling!

Finally I asked Paige what advice she would give to her first year self.

‘I would tell myself to worry less. I was terrified of taking university exams for the first time, and genuinely managed to convince myself that I would fail my first year. The stress was so unnecessary – I know now that as long as you put some effort in, it is very hard to fail… Also, I got involved with lots of societies in first year and had an active social life, and I would love to go back and reassure myself that this was absolutely the right thing to be doing. There was no need to feel guilty for not working 24/7. University is about more than just academics!’