Hazel: St. Andrews Reflection

G’day everyone!

My time at St Andrews has come to an end and it’s time to reflect! I can’t say I’m not sad to be leaving but I am also very excited to be heading home soon.

When I first arrived I felt mostly jet lagged but honestly very ready to step up to the challenge of leaving NZ, and living and studying in a foreign country. I think I did that. I quite quickly found myself some good friends and got used to the small town lifestyle without too many hiccups. One thing that I did not focus on enough, soon enough, was making friends in my courses. I eventually made a couple of friends in Computer Science and one in Psych from my tutorials and labs but that didn’t really happen until the second half of the semester. This meant that, particularly with CompSci, I didn’t have anyone to ask those annoying little questions that aren’t really worth asking the lecturer or tutor when I got stuck on the assignments which were due every two weeks.

One thing that I really enjoyed about the friends that I made in CompSci was that they were mostly girls and having each other in the male dominated course was really nice. We could ask each other questions without fear of having everything ‘man-splained’ to us.

All of my lecturers (except maybe one in Psych who mumbled) were really great. The tutors were great too. My CompSci tutor looked after me really well. I was a little out of my depth in the course but he seemed to really keep an eye out for when I was really lost.

Overall, I had a great time and am so glad that I went. Yes it was expensive but, the amount of priceless life experiences that I’ve had make it worth its weight in gold.

Hazel_5a

Hazel

Hazel: Studient Societies at St. Andrews

Hi everyone!

As St. Andrews is a small town the students have become very good at making their own fun. One of the best ways to meet people, have fun, and really get a feel of what it’s like to be a local student, is to join a couple of student societies.

Whether you like Dr Who, tennis, board games, hill walking, Jesus, golf, music, or if you appreciate people named Tom, there is a student society for you at St Andrews!

In your first week they’ll have either Freshers Fayre (for the September to December semester) or Refreshers Fayre (for January to May). This is where all of the societies advertise and take sign-ups. Usually membership is around £3 and you’ll get free or discounted access to all of their events throughout the year!

I joined the St. Andrews Radio Station (society) at the Refreshers Fayre on a complete whim and ended up with my own weekly radio show! Chill jams for school and exams was mondays at 9pm for the whole semester. I highly recommend listening to the station whether you go to St Andrews or not. www.standrewsradio.com . Also a subtle self promo. The recordings of my show are available on soundcloud! Through the station I met so many fun, like-minded people. It was also great for meeting non-first year students. Living in halls was great but the fresher energy can be a little exhausting. Having the show every week also gave me something to do other than study and binge-watch Netflix.

The other society that I joined was music society! I think this was the best decision I made the whole time I was there! I was able to join two orchestra that are run by the society, meet some really cool people, and play my viola which all really helped maintain a nice study/life balance.

The great thing about a lot of societies is that you don’t need to be a member to go to their events/concerts/games etc. I loved going to jazz bar at main bar (one of the student bars in the union) on thursday nights, which was put on by the jazz society. Everyone was welcome to join in and have a jam.

I can’t say I’m much of an expert on sport at St. Andrews but from what I saw, they have a huge fancy sports center and offer pretty much every sport you can think of. Including shinty! Which is like Scottish hockey but a bit more insane.

Again, I hope I’ve covered everything but if not feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

Cheers,

Hazel_4a

Hazel_4aHazel

Hazel: Nightlife in St. Andrews

Kia Ora everyone,

I think it’s about time I fill you in on the nightlife situation at St Andrews. It is a very small town so it is understandable to assume that there is nothing happening but since there are so many students around there is always something happening.

In terms of places to go for a night out the ‘club’ options are extremely limited. There is the student union club “601” that offers a dancy night club vibe and that’s about it for clubs and even that isn’t very ‘clubby’. One thing that St Andrews has an abundance of is pubs! I really like The Central Pub. It’s close to the music center so it was great for an after rehearsal pint. For a more ‘alternative’ / ‘grunge’ vibe there is Aikman’s. They have lots of indie music events. The Scottish pub culture is quite fun and I definitely recommend the Palmer Violet Gin and Lemonade at central. (It’s purple and will make you feel very fancy)

In terms of regular events, 601 (the union club) has a weekly themed ‘bop’ which is just like a grown up school disco. Very fun. I went to the ABBA Bop, Rewind and the Pride Bop. Sandy’s (the union sports bar) has friday night Karaoke and screens most major sports games. The karaoke is a bit make-shift but it’s very fun. Now, I never went because I didn’t do any sports at St Andrews, but on wednesday nights (I think at the Vic, which is a club-ish pub across the road from the union) they have ‘sinners’, which is sports society night in town.

Beyond those, there are (twice?) weekly Ceilidhs at Forgans which are traditional Scottish dancing nights. No one ever fully knows what they’re doing so there is no pressure to know the dances, you can just turn up and they’ll teach you.

One thing I noticed is that St Andrews has a lot of balls! Pretty much every student society (of which there are probably hundreds) will have a ball at some time throughout the year. And each student accomodation will have a ball as well. As well as the graduation, may, and ed balls balls. (The golf society had a golf ball).

If you get to know some students who life in flats then you’ll probably see that there are always flat parties happening or people jist hosting ‘afters’.

One thing I almost forgot to mention! Things close pretty early! Nothing stays open past 2am and most of the pubs stop serving food at 9 or 10 and drinks at 11 or 12.

Anyway. I hope I’ve covered everything. If not feel free to ask me if you see me round.

Cheers,

Hazel_3a

Hazel

Hazel: First Impressions of St. Andrews and Scotland

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Hey everyone!

I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you about my first impressions of St. Andrews, the town and university, and Scotland in general.

When I first arrived in Edinburgh is was absolutely freezing! This, I can gladly say, got better quite quickly. The stereotype that Scotland is constantly freezing and either raining, hailing or sleeting is only 40% true. Yes, it is a lot colder in January here than in Auckland and we did get some snow (not much) in my third week here. But many days have been clear blue skies with amazing sunsets and not too much wind.

My accommodation is better and worse than what I expected. I was expecting the food to be awful and it is completely edible. And we get waffles for breakfast on weekends. One thing that really exceeded my expectations are the people! Pretty much everyone has been super nice and chill and friendly. Of course there is always the occasional bad egg or strange guy who always wears headphones and debates with everyone about things that they know a lot more about. E.g me and New Zealand.

The town of St Andrews is bigger than I expected, as in it takes twenty minutes to walk into town, but it starts to feel really socially small once you get to know some people. You’ll walk into Tesco after being here for two weeks and bump into at least one person that you know. Also, the only night club is the student union so you are very likely to see people that you know there too.

In terms of classes, I was surprised that I have no Scottish lecturers! I have one Canadian, two German and one English. This is a good thing because I don’t have to translate from their accent, but I kind of wanted to get really good at understanding thick older-person Scottish accents. Young people are always much easier to understand.

With St Andrews being quite a small university – only 8000 students compared to Auckland’s 50,000 – it is a lot easier to become familiar and friendly with your lecturers and tutors. My computer science lecturer emailed me to check if I or my family/friends had been effected by the Christchurch shootings. As much as I love UoA I don’t think that level of personal investment is achievable with such large classes.

Anyway. I’m on a flight to Brussels for spring break right now so I better put my laptop away for landing.

Ka kite,

Hazel

Hazel: Week One at St. Andrews

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On Tuesday 22nd January I packed my (slightly overweight) bag and boarded an eighteen-hour flight to Doha on Qatar Airways. I made it onto my flight to Edinburgh with not a lot of time to spare but I had a whole row to myself, so I made a makeshift sky couch and had a really good sleep.

When I arrived in Edinburgh it was 6am and NEGATIVE FOUR DEGREES! I had a whole carry-on bag full of warm clothes to put on… I wish I had more. I made it to Leuchars station, pronounced Luke-ers (I wish someone had told me), and got a taxi to Andrew Melville Hall where I’ll be living for the semester.

I got shown to my room which is on the bottom floor. I unpacked a bit and then decided to try and fight the jet lag and go for a walk. It was so fun walking on frozen mud and puddles that were completely solid! I walked back to my room and accidentally had a 9-hour nap! This meant that I missed lunch and dinner, but I was so tired that it was worth it!

I went to the orientation lecture/talk and ended up sitting next to a lovely German exchange student. The talk went through lots of really important information about how things work in St Andrews and the only thing that I remember them saying was that the Thai restaurant at the end of Market street is really good. After lunch back at the hall we were divided into smaller groups and got a tour of the town! The guide told us about some of the crazier St Andrews traditions including the annual shaving foam fight and some of the various ways to cleanse yourself of academic sin which include running around St Mary’s quad three times naked backwards on the hour when all the classes are changing over and the May dip when you run into the north sea on the first day of may at sunrise!

Some quick final notes, Gingernuts here are so much better than NZ gingernuts, UK plugs are huge, scots are not as angry as their reputation suggests (people are so friendly!), snow is very fun and hall food definitely isn’t as bad as I was told it would be, it’s a bit carb/potato heavy but that’s not a bad thing…at all.

Ka kite,

Hazel