Have you ever had to explain to someone what an American biscuit is? It’s difficult!
I have been in St Andrews for about three days now and I’ve been trying to integrate British vocabulary into my speech so I am more easily understood: pants = underwear, trousers = pants, biscuits = cookies, ice lolly = popsicle, and a queue is a line, along with words such as term, first years, university, and cheers.
I am absolutely loving it here. I am sitting here in my room listening to the rain (which is a constant in St A) and it’s so peaceful. My building is not the prettiest, and is the farthest from town center, but the people are great and I am getting plenty of exercise! The hall is mostly freshmen, so it has been a bit isolating being the only older one here, but there are some great people, and a lot of other international students as well. Our hall spent a few hours on Sunday playing games on the beach. It was raining and we all ended up soaked and sand-covered, but it was a great way to spend the afternoon!
St Andrews is about an hour from Edinburgh, and the ride is was beautiful. From what I saw out the windows of the bus, this is a beautiful country. The town itself is small, but wonderful. There are all of three main streets, and the university buildings are interspersed throughout the town, which is a very different atmosphere than most campuses in the States.
St Andrews is over 600 years old, and therefore it has a lot of great traditions. One of my favorites is the red academic gowns. Every student buys one and how you wear it shows what year of school you are in. And you can wear them to the Castle and Cathedral ruins and get in free, so I plan on borrowing one to do some sightseeing!
I find it interesting that every school has little superstitions as well. For William & Mary, it is the Crim Dell, and here it is the Patrick Hamilton initials. Patrick Hamilton, a member of the University, began teaching Lutheran doctrines and was tried for heresy and burned at the stake on the spot his initials now mark, becoming the first martyr of the Scottish Reformation. It is said that as he was being burned he screamed out that anyone who stood on that spot would be cursed for all eternity (or something to that effect), so everyone walks around it with a wide-berth. If you step on it there are two ways to break the curse: the first is to run around the quad backwards, naked, three times, and the second is to complete the May Dip. Since I will not be here in May, I am being very cautious about where I step!
Claire Seely ‘ 13 studies International Relations and Psychology at the College of William & Mary, and is spending her semester abroad at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. She is a passionate musician and is involved in the WM Choir and Reveille A Cappella. She also is a member of the Virtual Library of Freedom, Tribe Ambassadors, and has served as a Peer Advisor. At St Andrews she is currently involved in a chapel choir and is taking Scottish dancing lessons. Read more about Claire’s Scottish adventures on her study abroad blog, And I’ll be in Scotland afore ye…