St. Andrews, as both a town and a university, feels very separated from the rest of the world. It is its own experience completely independent and niche to each person living here. Yet a town made up of three main streets and school buildings can hold so much importance. Our lives revolve around such a small area. This, however, does make it harder to adjust to life back here after the long summer holidays in between each year. As we all know, travelling from big cities or different countries, St. Andrews remains as if we never left. What we also must return to is the pressure of academic life.
The journey back to St. Andrews is a confusing one. At first it is exciting to move back where our friends are, not to mention we get to live independently again. But we also are leaving home again, where all of our old comforts and familiarities remain.
The start of the semester is always the most hopeful yet overwhelming. We begin each semester – time after time – with hopes of becoming academic weapons only to inevitably end up skipping our 9ams after week two. The goal is to meal plan the week, save money, only go on nights out at the weekends, always do our tutorials questions and readings, but none of these really happen for the average student at St. Andrews. Instead, attending all our lectures for the day must be rewarded by an overly priced coffee from your incredibly telling choice of coffee shop. But maybe these are the small pleasures of life that you get here. Maybe it is the act of bumping into people on Market Street, or in the Main Library that makes us students in St. Andrews.
When beginning a new academic year there is always a sense of anxiety looming over the thought of it. This permeates across all years, between completely clueless first years, second years trying to focus more on studying, third years nervous to begin honours levels and fourth years terrified of graduating (and having to join the real world that consists of more than three streets).
The first week never seems to be too much as our time is filled with introductory lectures and getting to know the people in our classes; the novelty has yet to wear off. Then, somehow within a day there are multiple tasks to be done for the same day, coursework to plan for, social events to attend, and sanity to be maintained. In these moments we reflect on the summer where it was stressful to book flights or work our summer jobs, a luxury that is definitely missed. Life during the academic year feels completely separate to that lived in the summer holidays. Therefore, this complete and abrupt life switch calls for a massive readjustment and prioritising of new factors. This period is difficult but with time it sort of becomes one of the famous traditions here in St. Andrews.
For these reasons the bubble of St. Andrews can be both a blessing and a curse. When deadlines are approaching the town almost feels isolating, a completely separation from usual socialising hours. However, because of this we are even closer to everyone else who is experiencing the exact same thing alongside us.
Studying in St. Andrews is an incredibly niche experience due to the location of the tiny seaside town and the prestige of the university, but it is not one I would want to miss out on. We are part of this university, for better or for worse, in stressful times and new ones, and it is in this readjustment period that this community is truly felt.