Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Fresher

St. Andrews had all sorts of fun events planned for Freshers week. There were so many barbecues and society lunches that I was able to eat for free most of the week. I know I'm supposed to be traveling and seeing Scotland and stuff but I have also been diving into student life at St. Andrews. I joined the frisbee team and I've been taking the time to meet as many people as possible. These pictures are from a barbecue  at one of the residence halls that my friend lives in. No, there aren't any spectacular views of the beach or Scottish wildlife. Just some international kids enjoying one of the last days of Freshers week. One of the wonderful things about living in the U.K. is that they tend to serve free drinks with every free meal. Even in the afternoon. Also, I've learned the best way to meet people is to play a game of giant Jenga.
Photobucket
Photobucket Photobucket

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Bit About Fashion

People weren't kidding when they told me that St. Andrews is a very trendy place. I will say that I probably can't afford half of what some of the students here wear but at the end of the day, they are very good personal stylists. If you go to St. Andrews you better make sure to put your best fashion foot forward. Unless you are on your way to sports practice don't even think about wearing sweats in public. Even then, make sure those baggy clothes fit you properly. Comfortable walking shoes? I mean if you really care about your personal presentation you won't even think about them. I can't tell you how many pairs of heels and wedges I have seen around town. Now, I live about a mile away from campus and I see girls stomping it out in their heels to and from David Russell Apartments.
If you care about how your feet feel at the end of the day, you could go with boots such as these.
I have seen so many pairs of these walking around. It makes sense, they are practical, waterproof and weather appropriate. But if you feel like looking up the prices of Hunter or Ralph Lauren boots you will know that this kind of stylish comfort comes at an expensive price.
I have noticed a couple of other interesting trends. People here like to get dressed up when going out. I don't mean a cute top and some make up. I mean short little skirts with or without nylons. Fact: it gets cold here! I have so much respect for the girls who show up in tiny little dresses without some sort of leg protection. I have also noticed that leggings as pants is also somewhat of a popular trend. We all have our strong opinions about this but I really don't mind as long as I don't have to walk behind you for a mile with the knowledge that you are wearing blue polka dot underwear because your leggings are completely see through. Yep, it happens. But how do you politely tell someone you've never met that, yes, they have cute underwear but no, you'd rather not see it.
All in all I have been in constant admiration of how polished students at St. Andrews dress. My adjective of choice would be classy. Yes, even for the short skirts. Those can be classy too. I never see pajama pants or ripped jeans or sloppy clothing here. I find it a nice, professional atmosphere.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Update in Pictures

I've been exploring all over the place. That means sore feet from so much walking. I don't even want to know how many miles I walk everyday. St. Andrews has four main roads. It's not very hard to get lost but somehow I've managed to more than once. There's so much history to explore though. I thought I post some pictures from Freshers week to show off the wonderful landscapes I live by.
Photobucket
The initials P. H. stand for Patrick Hamilton. He was found guilty of heresy in the 1500's. He was burned at the stake at this spot. Unfortunately for him it was raining the day he was burned and he died a very slow death. St. Andrews has a tradition that if you step on these initials after you have matriculated you are cursed and will fail your school of study. The only way to lift this curse is to participate in the May Dip where you run into the freezing cold sea at 5am. I won't be here in May so I have been very careful to walk around these initials. 

Photobucket
My friends and I went exploring on the beach for sea glass the other day. This is East Sands. There is also another beach called Castle Sands. It's closed right now but hopefully it will open before I leave.

Photobucket
This is what you drink when it's cold, windy and rainy in St. Andrews. There are tons of cute little coffee shops here. I plan on finding the perfect one for studying.

Photobucket
Apparently Prince William and Kate met in St. Salvator's Hall. Yup, I saw the place where they met. It was completely magical. But not really. I mean there wasn't even a plaque or anything commemorating the spot. St. Andrews really missed out there.

Photobucket
Just a really cool view.

Friday, September 23, 2011

St. Andrews Links

Photobucket
St. Andrews Links or the Home of Golf is the place where golf was invented around 600 years ago. I'm not really a huge golf fan but I thought this was a cool bit of information. Some of my other study abroad friends and I decided to be tourists for the day and went and explored the links and took some pictures. It's been kind of interesting walking the line between tourist and student. Of course I don't want to look like a wide eyed tourist but I'm only here for three months. I want to explore and photograph St. Andrews as much as possible. So from time to time I put aside my self consciousness and snap some photos.

Photobucket
Photobucket
Photobucket

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

FRESHER

Freshers week has been an interesting experience. Basically I am going through orientation week all over again, except in a different country. It's kinda fun actually, I get to apply all of my previous orientation week experience to create the best Freshers week ever. It also means that there is so much free food that I don't have to cook for myself yet. Because I am not an official fresher and I am only a visiting student, I don't have to attend a lot of the programs. I've had lots of free time to acquaint myself with the town and make sure I have essentials such as food and a phone.
This visiting student situation has made making friends complicated though. When I am hanging out at the pub in the Student Union at night it is quite common for a drunk fresher to stumble up to me and shout "are you a fresher too". I attempt to explain that, yes, I am new to St. Andrews but I am a third year, not a first year. So I'm kind of a fresher but not really. After that explanation the fresher normally wanders off to find people his own age. It is also pretty common for a drunk upperclassman to stare at me for a couple seconds and then yell FRESHER! into my face. Not appreciated. I have met some other study abroad students also here for a semester, but it is hard to meet other third years here because they have already established themselves and aren't really interested in meeting a person for only a semester.
It's fun to watch fresher week as someone who has already been through it. In case you were wondering, freshers here enjoy the newfound freedom just as much as freshmen back home. The only difference is that they can enjoy it in pubs. There is also much more to do here during Freshers week than there was at Knox. Almost every society has some sort of program involving free food and sports here are a big deal so there's lots of stuff for that. Beyond that there are subject talks, campus and museum tours, and lots of organized parties. There's always something to do. As an international student I have felt more than welcome and the only overwhelming aspect of this process has been choosing what to do out of the plethora of choices that St. Andrews offers us.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Not so Brief Reflection about my First Few Days in St. Andrews

I'm all moved in and diving into Freshers week. The past couple of days have been a whirlwind of meeting people and getting lost on my way home. This is just going to be a long post about my reactions to Freshers week and studying abroad for my first time. So, St. Andrews, the town, is small. Like smaller than where I go to school small. I'm going to venture a guess and say that it is much nicer and much safer though.
You can walk anywhere in about a half hour. Let's talk about that walking though. My apartment is about a 20 minute walk from just about everything. At first I loved it because you get to sight see and look at the quaint little houses. However, it's only been three days and I'm starting to wish I lived just a little bit closer. I am sore all over from too much walking. This just means that I have to get good at planning ahead. I'll have to remember to pack meals or snacks so that I don't have to walk back and forth too often. I'll also have to leave enough time so I'm not late to classes. My apartment is amazing though. I have my own double bed and my very own bathroom attached to my room. There's lots of storage space and the internet is super fast (even if it's not wireless). Down the hall there is a kitchen and sitting area. I share this with four other women. The kitchen area is fully equipped with pots and pans. There's lots of space and everything functions perfectly. I guess it's worth walking far to be able to live in such a nice space.
I've only met three of my four flat mates and all of them are lovely. Two are here on a program to learn to speak english fluently. One is Italian and the other woman is French. I love talking to both of them because they are so sweet and kind. They both kept reminding me to correct them if they say something wrong but I keep telling them I can understand them perfectly. The other girl who I met is also a study abroad student from America. It's nice to meet other people here for only a semester. Although I am meeting people from all over the world it is comforting to meet people in the same situation as me. We are able to support each other. I even met a girl from Wisconsin. We bonded over our love of the Packers. We even found a pub that shows American football games late at night so we can cheer on our  favorite team.
As I've been acclimating to life in Scotland I've started to notice some differences that make life just that much more interesting. For example, cars drive on the other side of the road. I know, I know, this is the most cliche American observation in the book but believe me it has caused me some difficulty. First, my dad decided it would be the best plan to drive from Edinburgh to St. Andrews. I didn't know if we were even going to make it. I've also had a hard time crossing streets. I don't know which way to look first. I've just started to cross when everyone else does. This may not be the best plan but I'm alive to write this blog post so it must be working. Beyond that it has been little things such as words and phrases that I don't quite get the meaning of yet. That, and the teeny tiny shower keeps me on my toes and alert for the day.
I'll save the rest of my observations for a different post since this one has rambled on for long enough. Suffice it to say that I am absolutely loving Scotland and Freshers week. Let's just see how much I like it when classes get going :)