Suffice to say, St Andrews is a dichotomous town: the fascinating relationship between community and isolation, scholarship and ebullience, and tolerance and bigotry are realised daily by the student body. In a town so insular – knit only between three small streets – it quickly becomes difficult to develop a sense of self that exists independently from St Andrews. As I enter my final year here, this fact has become glaringly apparent. Being imbued with a newfound sense of responsibility and maturity from a summer internship, I found myself less than excited at the thought of returning to St Andrews and was determined to unravel my trepidation. I struggled to elicit thoughts of Taste lattes and seaside strolls which generally bested my daily, dogged commute into central London. That isn’t to say that I do not enjoy my university life (quite the contrary), but rather that it feels disparate from my life outside of term. My perceived adult sensibilities clash with the reality of St Andrews – the bubble is a cloudy one, making it difficult to see past.
Freshers week as a fourth year is particularly unnerving as I tried to find a balance between nights out, lovely dinners in with friends, conjuring up plans for life after uni, and trying to get a crack on the suggested reading list that I was probably already behind on. Fourth- year is arguably one of the most difficult to navigate as my ever-evolving self must still operate in the same small, quaint town that I first set foot in years ago. I have no choice but to identify as a St Andrean, but defining that label precisely has proven to not only be difficult, but has also provoked a series of questions concerning the interplay between university life and individuality. With every new term, the challenge set forth is to mold a place that has inherent tinges of youth into an environment where one feels able to move onwards. After all, can anyone really revisit the Union – pablo in hand – without painstaking memories of being a fresher?
Succinctly put, St Andrews contains multitudes. This town – being small and particular by nature – is one that houses a litany of personal associations and memories, making it difficult to grapple with thoughts of life beyond the bubble. All things considered, I’ll gladly (albeit sheepishly) take both my shameful stack of takeaway coffee cups and my storehouse of Scottish slang and be on my merry way.