St Andrews is a curious old place. At first glance, it seems pretty civilised. It is a town with at least three barbershops. It is a town with countless bars and pubs, and even a Pret a Manger.
Yet it is also a town without a McDonald’s, and with only one proper nightclub (The Vic). This is exactly the opposite of what one would expect of a student town, hence why so many St Andreans are willing to cross the Tay for their clubbing needs. Its smallness causes issues in other ways too. For instance, when I go to the Sainsbury’s here, I cannot find that which I often most desire for a warm snack: a pot of Sainsbury’s Basics pot noodles. Instead, I am forced to purchase Sainsbury’s non-basics noodles, or, even worse, the branded Pot Noodles themselves. I am glad I have not yet stooped so low, considering that Pot Noodles have actual vegetables in them.
Truly a horrible thought. Almost enough to me right off my saturated fats.
It is also a crying shame that there is no McDonald’s here. Since getting to St Andrews at the beginning of the semester, I’ve only had 36 chicken nuggets. By which I mean, I have only been once. (It was in the early hours of Valentine’s Day in Dundee – don’t judge, I didn’t go there at midnight alone).
Sometimes I feel upset about this, but I must remember that St Andrews is such a great place to be precisely because it is like no other place. What this town may lack in the fast, cheap food establishments such as McDonald’s (a magical land where you can buy four double cheeseburgers at bargain prices), it makes up for in medieval quirks.
How many universities can claim to be older than the United States of America? How many universities have a cathedral, a ruined castle, and a miniature replica of Hogwarts on campus? How many universities have ancient traditions that can justify anything from skinny-dipping to failing your exams? And if the view over West Sands is what wilderness looks like, then I could get used to the wilderness.
I will merely say that, while in my home in Croydon I am but around 300m from my nearest KFC, no one near me has a bedroom leading into a turret. And yet here, on a coastal town in the middle of nowhere, I have friends who do. And I think that says quite a lot.