I Have Fresher Envy

Dear freshers – you don’t know how good you have it.

You just got lost between the North Haugh and The Scores. You triggered a fire alarm in your hall attempting to make toast. You’re currently coughing your guts up from Freshers’ Flu, or being carried out of the Union after your first Pablo, or desperately trying to figure out what the hell is going on with your readings, or your flatmates, or your life in general. You feel overwhelmed, confused, and like everything is spinning out of control.

Oh God, how I envy freshers.

I never thought it would be like this. When I was a second year, I looked at freshers with a benign sense of dismissal – sort of like the way you look at a friendly, but somewhat intellectually challenged family pet. Funny, perhaps a little sweet in their boundless enthusiasm, but worthier of amusement than envy.

Photo: Lightbox Creative

Now that I’m in third year, something’s changed. I look at first years, emerging blinking from their Freshers’ Week experience into the world of lectures, labs and tutorials, and a part of me would give anything to trade places with them. There might be obvious explanations for this: the jump from sub-honours to honours is not the easiest one I’ve ever made, and it’s certainly harder to be laid back about coursework when you can no longer mutter “you only need a seven.” But then again, second years also have this luxury, and I don’t suffer the same nostalgia when I think about them.

It could also be pure, mopey regret that’s driving this feeling. I’m sure I’m not the only returning St Andrews student who’s wished they could re-do their university experience with the benefit of hindsight. (My 18 year old self probably wasn’t the most naïve, socially-awkward, self-destructive member of the Class of 2019, but he was close.)

But I don’t think it’s that either. For a start, I saw a guy stumbling out of the Union the other night wearing this salmon-pink jacket, crying loudly, and carrying what looked like a broken bra, so I don’t think first years are immune to bad decisions either.

Photo: Lightbox Creative

Instead, I think my fresher-envy stems from something else. I’ve still got just under two years left in The Bubble, so I’m not saying my time as a student is anywhere close to being finished, but I do feel like an important part of it is now far behind me. A part defined by a feeling I have only ever experienced in my first few weeks in St Andrews, and probably never will again. The feeling of everything being new and scary and different and confusing and overwhelming and exciting and… magical. The feeling of a new chapter of my life opening in front of me, one where I would have more freedom to write than any of the ones preceding it. The feeling that a town with only three streets was still a place you could get lost in.

I wanted to end this article with some sense of resolution about this feeling, but I can’t. I have no advice to offer, no conclusion to draw, and I guess this wistfulness is just something me and my fellow sufferers have to get over (Unless someone has a time machine. That would be pretty cool). A much better Stand writer than me once described the start of University as the start of a love story, but I’d say it’s more like a honeymoon – a huge, shared, sometimes messy, sometimes difficult but always exciting honeymoon. And while I’m not saying your relationship with this University won’t bring you any happiness once this honeymoon is over, it’s hard to think you’ll never miss it.

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