St Andrews is a marvellous town. Alongside its natural beauty, buzz and inspirational sights come many infuriating flipsides. I’m not talking about the small menial things: circuit laundry that is hard to understand, too expensive and beyond frustrating; nor the inconsistent, grey and depressing British weather; not even certain overzealous Sustainable Development students. Instead, I’m talking about some of the slightly more tangible difficulties; namely, annoying fellow lecture-goers, the cliquey culture by which we are surrounded, and the nightlife (or lack thereof). Of course, everyone may have his or her personal gripes, but from my experience, the aforementioned are the most commonly espoused.
To begin: annoying lecture-goers. To clarify, no one expects lectures to be a barrel of laughs. Many a lecture consists uniquely of an hour stuck in a stuffy, cramped lecture theatre trying to write shorthand notes, that you won’t understand come revision week, on a small, wobbly plank of plastic. In light of this fact, one would hope that other people should not make this hour any worse. Sadly, they do. Often. I thought nothing could be worse than the student who doesn’t let others get a word in edgeways in tutorials (article coming soon!) – until I encountered my first lecture rambler. For those who are lucky enough to have dodged these proverbial bullets, lecture ramblers are those amongst us who have taken upon themselves the responsibility of commentating over every second word of the lecture, which they already understand better than the lecturer themselves. Obviously.
The other main lecture-offenders are the keyboard-bashers. Those who will type seemingly forever, regardless of what the lecturer is talking about. The introductory slide – typed. Every. Single. Slide. Thereafter – typed. Even the slide that the lecturer profusely states should not be typed out – typed. To add insult to injury, as if aware of how annoying they are, the volume of their typing slowly but steadily rises over the hour to the point you can no longer hear the lecturer at all. Amongst some of the stealthiest but most toxic students at St Andrews, the sooner the rest of us normal lecture-goers have permission to confiscate keyboard-bashers’ weapons of mass vexation, the better.
The second, and perhaps less petty, problem for some of St Andrews’ more cynical students, is getting used to the cliquey, overly egocentric and at times pompous culture that exists here. One of the more prominent symptoms of this is the obsession over titles such as ‘BNOC’, a self-conferred, cringe-inducing title meaning “Big Name on Campus”. Tragically, some students genuinely take this title seriously, as can be seen from various St Fessdrews confessions, as something to aim towards in life; as if the attainment of ‘being known’ around a university campus consisting of 3 streets is the greatest accomplishment that they can aspire to. For some, perhaps it is.
To top all of this off, the St Andrean nightlife leaves a lot to be desired. The bars are universally packed out, some charge far too much for a pint (see: The Central) and unfortunately at some point no matter which pub crawl route you take, it becomes repetitive. At this point, most students will look to the club scene to quench their thirst for a party. Regrettably, many of these lost souls will find themselves in the lifeless and heart-wrenching environment of Club 601. In saying the words Disney bop, Safeword bop, and the upcoming Meme bop, one says everything that needs to be said. It has potential, but inevitably anyone who comes to St Andrews looking for the nightlife will end up solely finding its cold, dead, trodden on corpse.
The majority of students love St Andrews, that’s why it sits so highly in student happiness, even beating out the likes of Oxford in terms of how satisfied its alumni feel. This a high standard to maintain, and although the list of positives to studying in such a beautiful town in North East Fife is lengthy, and its drawbacks only few, it makes people question whether they’re enjoying it as much as they should be – and if not, whether this is a fault of their surroundings, or a fault of their own.