Fresher’s Week. St Andrews Edition.

25 Sep

Well, I made it to St Andrews! I got here just in time for the start of Fresher’s Week. It is a strange feeling though being a “fresher” (their term for freshman) again, but I’m embracing it and enjoying getting to experience what it means to go to St Andrews. These were my favorite things about Fresher’s Week.

On Monday morning I went to the Opening Ceremonies for the Arts and Divinity. I imagined it was going to be a few of the heads of the university talking about how important it is to do well in school and balance your social life, a few bad jokes, singing of the school song, ect. It went as I expected with just a few slight changes like the song sang was in Latin and a small 5 piece chamber band came out to play a slow piece of music which I may have nodded off during (I’m going to blame jet lag though), but after the Vice Chancellor spoke we were rewarded with a performance by one of St Andrews’ a cappella groups, The Other Guys. In a spoof of Katy Perry’s California Girls, these guys woke up the crowd. I didn’t understand some of the song (like what exactly does schweffed mean), but it was so clever and funny and worth watching. Here is their official music video for you to judge.

IMG_3943It is not every day that a University celebrates its 600th birthday, but on Friday and Saturday St Andrews did just that. From birthday cake and fireworks to recreating the journey of their Papal Bull, festivities filled this small town. One of the highlighting events was the Graduation Ceremony feature Hillary Clinton, Dr. Jane Goodall, the Right Revd Dr. Rowan Williams, and many others. Tickets were raffled off to the ceremony and I wasn’t lucky enough to get one, but I did stream it online. It was long, but worth watching just to hear the speeches given and see my one of my favorite politicians.  The highlight of the celebration though was the closing fireworks on Saturday night on the beach. By nightfall the sand was packed full of the people of St Andrews and students from the university. The sun was slow to set, but we kept waiting by chatting with those sitting near us, taking pictures with new and old friends, watching kids run around in the sand. As it grew darker all attention turned to the pier where the fireworks were going to be launched from and when the pier let up with the first flames, everyone cheered. Six hundred years they had been waiting for this and it was worth it. The fireworks were beautiful, big and booming in every color imaginable bursting just above the sea. For me as an exchange student, it has been such an honor to be here to celebrate the university’s 600th birthday with everyone.

St Andrews Pier WalkA student tradition at the University of St Andrews is completing a Pier Walk after attending Sunday service at St Salvator’s Chapel. I was told that it was a tradition that came about as a punishment for some student’s who turned up to chapel one Sunday just a little too inhibited from their Saturday night activities; however, some sources on the web say it is to honor a man who swam out to sea to save men from a sinking ship in the bay. Whatever the origin, peer walking has become a student tradition. This past Sunday was what you imagine the weather to be like in Scotland–windy, rainy, and cold. None of these things make for easy pier walking because you take serious risk losing your balance and falling right into the shallow part of the sea. Tons of students gathered outside of St Salvator’s chapel in the quad just past noon, almost all wearing the tradition red student gowns. At about ten past the hour we all exited the quad, quick to jump over the cursed initials on the cobble stone that mark the exact spot where Patrick Hamilton was burned at the stake. With the winds coming in off the sea, the weather was even worse when we got to the pier. Luckily, someone had the wise idea that it wasn’t quite safe enough to walk the tallest, narrowest part of the pier and so we only walked the wider, lower part of the pier. No one fell in and everyone lived to go to the first day of classes.

For me Fresher’s Week has been quite the introduction to life at St Andrews and their traditions. While it may not be anything like my life at Purdue, I am happy I am here.

Wish me luck in my first week of classes,



One Response to “Fresher’s Week. St Andrews Edition.”


  1. New post over at Purdue Students Abroad | Mly Mllr's Travels - September 25, 2013

    […] Fresher’s Week St Andrews Edition […]

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