This is not a great time to be a young, doe-eyed student looking towards entering the job market.
If you have seen the headlines, watched the news, or listened to the radio in the last two years, you probably have heard that these are difficult times. Jobless rates are hitting record highs around the world. In Scotland, unemployment just rose again from a total of 105,000 in early 2008 to around 239,000 as of September of this year. There simply doesn’t seem to be any money anywhere. Try finding funding for science experiments, or historic research, or playwriting, or just about anything else when nobody can pay the bills. All around, it’s not a great time to look ahead hopefully to plan your future.
Yet, looking through this issue of The Saint, St Andrews students don’t seem to be doing too badly. Whether committing to a full-emersion language course in the Middle East, or braving the life of a thespian at the Fringe, many St Andrews students seem to be approaching this challenging time with a creative and inspiring energy. This summer, our peers were spread out around the globe doing incredible things: research in the Arctic, trekking in the Himalayas, volunteering in Kenya. Spending your summer at home getting wasted every night is fun, too.
Many St Andrews students seem impervious to these difficult times. Or at least oblivious.
Over the last six centuries, some incredible people have walked the halls of this hallowed institution. Our esteemed alumni include politicians, physicists, filmmakers, actors, even athletes. Our non-esteemed alumni include more than a few drunks, general bums, and some guy who went to work in Next in Dundee. And I think we should value the extraordinary range between the two extremes.
So, if asked what advice to give to first years, I would reply that it’s the same as most things in life: Put in what you want to get out.
Within these three streets, there’s an extraordinary smorgasbord of opportunity. If you get your kicks from fashion, flaunt what you’ve got on the catwalk (we have about seven). If alcohol is your thing, take your pick: we’ve got fine whisky, wine, ale, and more. If cheap alcohol is your thing, there’s plenty of that too. And if academics really is your thing, that’s what the mustard-colored, prison-like structure in the center of town is for.
As a fourth year during fresher’s week, I was torn between the confidence of my maturity and the crushing prospect of my looming senility. On one hand, it feels wonderful to be the top of the heap in St Andrews. While the excitement of St Andrews after dark was great when I was young and spry, I’m old now. I have Antiques Roadshow to watch.
On the other hand, who wants to grow up? Freshers seem so young, so hopeful – it inspires a fresh confidence in the prospects of university. And frankly, I wouldn’t easily say no to putting the real world off for another few years. It’s terrifying out here on the edge of the abyss that is “LIFE AFTER UNI.”
Whether you’re at the beginning of your university career, or old and bitter like me, the prospect of life beyond this little town looms large. Just give it your all, and cross your fingers because it will all work out in the end. And if it doesn’t, well I guess that’s why they have job seeker allowance.
The future is bright my friends.