An American woman studying in Britain has gained more than 335,000 followers on Instagram by posting pictures and stories about her fairy tale life at Cambridge University.
Caroline Calloway, 23, left New York almost two years ago. When she started blogging about white-tie dinners, fancy balls and young men in polo gear, her social media followers started growing.
"I am living my life through her stories," one of her fans, Emily Parsons, recently wrote on Instagram.
"The time Oscar flew us to Venice for Valentine’s Day” or “The time my friend Max and I went to a ball at Blenheim palace" are only some of the stories that have made the young woman popular with her peers.
Much like Ring Pops and disposable razors, memories deteriorate with use. It’s science. According to a study by Northwestern University, every time we access a memory we tamper with it, editing the past with our feelings in the present. Or to put it like this: the only way to preserve our most precious memories is to forget them. Sometimes I worry that I’ve revisited my first weeks at Cambridge so often that the real story is too damaged to tell with accuracy—that something about the star-struck, devastated, bewildered way I felt when I arrived has been permanently paved over. I know now, for example, that Oscar and I will end up dating. We will spend Valentine’s Day in Paris and weekends at castles and untold hours of our lives watching movies on laptops. Cambridge will not always be a beautiful but hellish maze. I will, eventually, learn the street names; the college names; where to buy falafel at 3 AM (Gardies). I will even become friends with Josh after many upbeat and infrequent lunches in Manhattan. Once—and only once—Josh will say the name Oscar by mistake. “George,” I will correct him quickly. “The royal baby’s name is George.” But in the moment that this photo happened I couldn’t have imagined what was to come. And in fact, at this moment now, it’s hard for me to imagine how this photo felt. During the past week I’ve asked so many friends (spoiler alert: I make friends) what Cambridge was like at first and they all say it was a whirlwind. They cite Bambi-like awe. And sure, I get it. But when I look at this photo I see a staged kind of fun. Where is my jacket? Did I throw it out of frame, but keep the champagne? Why am I looking off into the distance? I had definitely asked for this photo to be taken. What I’m trying to say is that wonder can often run parallel to loneliness. And while the emotional sum of my first weeks at Cambridge would eventually add up to happiness, this photo was probably not the extraordinary moment it looks like. Sneaking past the porters wasn’t actually that hard. Conversation that afternoon with Oscar lulled. Things were real. And they would only get surreal-er. To Be Continued… #adventuregrams
One of her Cambridge friends, India, asking ABC News not to use her last name, said Calloway was always befriending people and that her success was because of her "crazy life with lots of parties."
But another student from the university, Abby Jitendra, said she thought Calloway's pictures tend to "amplify the ridiculousness of Cambridge" with its long-held traditions. “Her pictures are mainly for outsiders," Abby said, noting that less wealthy students often cannot afford the same lifestyle.
Calloway, a history of art major, says her motivation is "brightening" people's day "with jokes and stories and photos." Her fans’ reactions were unexpected, she says. "The pictures are cooler than I will ever be,” Calloway told ABC News.
Despite her apparent enjoyable life in Cambridge, Calloway says she misses her country. "In the U.S. we have the mentality that you can make it on your own," she said, before adding, "I also miss wearing my PJ's in the middle of the day. That's not a thing here."
In addition to her pictures, Calloway said, the key to her success has been the anecdotes she writes along with each of her posts.
"Without even acknowledging his concerned glances towards my vase full of red wine, I leapt out of bed saying, “Ten minutes and I’ll be ready.” “Lovely,” he replied, snapping his gaze up from the floor," Calloway wrote on Instagram to describe one picture.
“Do you need to borrow robes or— ” I pointed to the Ryder and Amies bag in the corner.“Black Undergraduate Robes? Check. AWWW YEA, CAMBRIDGE.”
The young woman plans on returning to America after she graduates in 2016. She says she has a book coming up next spring, in which she will tell her stories in a longer form.
“I hope readers will find the stories moving and funny,” said Calloway, who hopes to become an established writer one day.