Gabbi: Welcome to St. Andrews!

I’ve been here in St Andrews for five weeks now, enough time to have generally gotten the hang of things and be able to start reporting back on the ins and outs of St. Andrews student life!

One of the great things about St Andrews is the multitude of traditions that exist here. I’ll give you a quick run through of two of my faves – the Academic Fam and the Rad Red Robes.

Overhearing people chatting about hitting the town with their mother or complaining that they’ve now only got nine siblings because one’s joined another family would sound a bit odd to your average student. But here in St Andrews, its commonplace conversation! Welcome to the concept of The Academic Family. Usually third year students adopt a bunch of first years who become their academic children, however, my academic father graciously said it didn’t matter that I’m a 4th year and older than him and so I now belong to a happy family of 11! Academic families are essentially just a cool bunch of people to hang out with. The parents are there to host events, give us advice on the best study spots/cafes/shortcuts to class, and to generally make the transition into Uni easier for first year students. I really love that this is such a prominent tradition as it gives some great support and definitely adds to the St Andrews vibe.

Another prominent tradition is that of the red gowns. The university sells these to new students and encourages us to wear them at any formal occasion. During the first week we had the introductory pier walk (another tradition) and all the students rocked up in their red gowns – it looked very cool, although a little Twilight-esque…

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The extremely windy Pier Walk
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Red gowns as far as the eye can see

 

As well as the old-school traditions, a lot of the university’s buildings are historical and full of character. The hall of residence I’m staying in is University Hall (UH represent!) and it’s quite different from Uni Hall at UoA. As the oldest of the current day Halls, it comes complete with two libraries, a range of room sizes (from cupboard under the stairs to grand master bedroom) and is an absolute rabbit’s warren of corridors. I’m really enjoying living here as there’s a great sense of community and a mix of all year groups to hang out with.

This hall is a catered residence, something I was slightly worried about after my experience with Flame Tree at UH Auckland… But no fear, the food here is really quite good, although they do have a tendency to serve three types of potato at every meal.

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Wardlaw, a part of University Hall

I can’t introduce St Andrews without mentioning the gorgeous landscape that the Uni is situated in. We’re right on the coast, as in right on the coast – some of my classes are in a building called Edgecliff (literally edge of the cliff). This means that if I’ve got an hour break between classes, its as easy as pie to grab a coffee and go for a wander along the beach at West Sands

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Edgecliff – the philosophy tutorial and seminar rooms

West Sands is also a prime place to meet dogs out and about on their walks/swims! I’ve been blessed to meet so many pups here and am happy to report back that Scottish dogs are extremely polite and incredibly adorable. I’ve yet to go for a swim here myself but it’s definitely on my to-do list!

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West Sands beach (on a rather miserable day)

There’s also the ruins of St Andrews Castle and the remains of a massive medieval cathedral (built in the 12th century) which I found really interesting to learn about. These historical sites make St Andrews feel quite different from home as it makes you realise just how long people have been living here!

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A view out over the cliffs to St Andrews Castle

I’m really looking forward to the rest of my semester here! The people have all been incredibly welcoming, the Uni very supportive and involved, and the town itself so picturesque.

Until next time!

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Hannah: First Impressions, Settling in, and Accomodation

Stepping foot into St. Andrews for the first time was both exciting and terrifying. This was going to be my home for the next three months, but just walking to my accommodation I could already feel myself falling in love with this place.

First Thoughts…

“This is so beautiful.”

“It’s so small.”

“It’s all so old.”

“I can feel the history wrapped inside the buildings.”

Accommodation

I’m staying in the David Russel Apartments and I’m going to be completely self-catered (let’s see if I can cook). My room itself is really big and has everything you need (a DOUBLE bed, desk and wardrobe), the bathroom is a bit small but at least I have my own shower and toilet. I’m sharing the kitchen with 4 other people (who are all super nice). I personally have not seen my flatmates a lot but I think every flat is slightly different.

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Me on the first day after having unpacked (that was an adventure)

There are so many people around in this area which is great, the apartments themselves are around a 20min walk away from town and the university but the walk is relatively flat and straightforward so it isn’t hard work.

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My building

Settling in

The first couple of days were a bit weird and I had a few moments of panic just thinking ‘What am I doing here? I’m so far away from home…’ but after around 3 days I was okay again. Get yourself some sturdy bags to carry your shopping back to your apartment.  Aldi is closest to David Russel Apartments and it’s cheap so I would recommend getting your groceries from there. I got settled into my room relatively quickly and it already feels like a second home now.

University

Starting classes and finding all my rooms was daunting but I just set a day aside and walked around finding all the buildings before classes actually started. People are also very kind and will direct you to the right place if you do get lost. The university is gorgeous and I feel like I’m at Hogwarts or in a castle.

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I’m just missing a wand
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There are so many different buildings and around every corner lies another hidden beauty

The main difference for lectures is that classes here are a lot smaller I have two classes with less than 20 people. Otherwise the lectures operate in a very similar way (they even use moodle over here).

My tips

  1. Don’t be afraid to talk to people
  2. Find your rooms for classes before lectures actually start
  3. Make a meal plan and write a shopping list
  4. Get free stuff in Orientation week if you can
  5. Do a library tour
  6. Go to events and don’t be afraid to talk to strangers (I know it’s scary)
  7. Walk around town at least 3 times – you will find somewhere/something new every time

 

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