There’s no denying that the Bubble that is St Andrews is filled with pressures. The pressure to dress as fashionably as it seems everyone does in this small town; the pressure to drink heavily, regularly and rapidly; and, of course, the pressure to spend extortionate amounts of money on various events and balls.
I have spent three weeks at St Andrews, yet I’ve already spent more than £150 on events. That might be a result of the classic fresher desire to do as much as possible, to go everywhere, and to attend everything in an effort to put oneself out there and make as many friends as possible. But there is no denying the fact that St Andrews has a far greater number of events – launch parties, balls, and various other huge undertakings held in grand settings – than most other universities. It also doesn’t help that these events (with the exception of said launch parties and most other events held at The Rule or The Vic) are, in my opinion, ridiculously priced.
This is absolutely not the fault of the committee members or organisers, because the fact of the matter is that the demand for fun at almost any cost exists here. Starfields, which was my first experience of such an event, may have been priced at under £40, but far too many people ended up paying upwards of £50 as people resold tickets to this unmissable, much-loved festival. All events at St Andrews sell out regardless of the price, and many events have attendees who have paid more than double the original ticket price. St Andrews is a tiny town with a tiny university filled with a disproportionate number of “rich kids.”
St Andrews also has no nightclubs – in any other city, for any other group of uni students, a reliably fun night out can be found at a club, entry costing anywhere from £1 to £20 for special events (or anything in London). But here in the Bubble, we have to make our own fun.
We have numerous committees facing overwhelming pressure to create events that live up to their notoriety of previous years. When you mix this with a big supply / demand problem, the prices for everything go up. Organisers can charge £70 for a ticket to a ball because they know it would still sell out if they charged £100. And they have to charge £70 to provide the sort of entertainment the “rich kids” of St Andrews have come to expect.
This combination of a lack of pre-existing nightlife (with the dubious exception of Club 601) and large numbers of wealthy fun-seekers has presumably led to this pricing nightmare. For those of us surviving on student loans or relying on a strict allowance from our parents, this results in either spending more than half our budget on attending events, or sacrificing what feels like the most important night of the week / month / semester.
I understand the necessity of such prices (to an extent), but accepting this as just part of St Andrews life is still going to be a struggle for many first years, myself included.