The Saint’s alternative Freshers’ Week

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The St Andrews Freshers’ programme of 2012 promises to provide you with the best possible introduction to student life in the Bubble (see it here).  However, St Andrews is a town of many hidden gems, and as the independent student newspaper here it is our great pleasure to pass on these secrets to you, young fresher.

Day time:

Take your newly acquired friends for a jaunt around the town.  There is no better way to become introduced to what St Andrews has to offer.

Walks:

Lade Braes: The Lade Braes is a pedestrianized street which follows the river through town, taking you alongside some picture-postcardVictorian stone houses, through a recreational park, and ultimately into a wooded walk.

The Fife Coastal path: another option if the weather looks good.  It can be picked up in either direction of the town, although the path leading onwards from East Sands beach takes you on a delightfully picturesque 12km walk along to Anstruther, which is a lovely harbour town selling the best fish and chip supper in the world (yes, really).  Hiking boots are strongly recommended for this walk, as although it is a fairly flat pathway it can get extremely muddy.  Regular buses run between St Andrews and Anstruther, and so the walk can be done in either direction.

Beaches:

West Sands: Arguably our most beautiful beach, West Sands was most famously been portrayed in the 1981 British historical film ‘Chariots of Fire’ (and rather more recently by Rowan Atkinson’s ‘Mr Bean’ montage during the London 2012 Opening Ceremony).  If the weather is kind, dress up in your whites and take a jog along the sandy beach front, heading in the direction of St Andrews and humming the iconic (and Oscar-winning) theme tune.  After the joy of acting out the film’s opening scene, be sure to go back and watch the film – it won’t disappoint.

East Sands:  At the other end of town lies the slightly smaller beach.  Situated at the foot of the Cathedral ruins, and right beside the harbour and famous pier, it again makes for a lovely visit.  Be sure to take your camera for some obligatory frolicking-in-the-sand photographs!  A trip to the beach is never complete without ice cream, and so on your way to the beach from town, stop by Jannettas.  Situated at the end of South Street, this place is open year round (ice cream still tastes good in the snow) and sells a mind-blowing array of flavours.  Don’t fret – the overwhelming choice of flavours merely means that you have to return on multiple occasions to ensure you try them all!

The Sites’:

Cathedral:  St Andrews’ cathedral ruins tower grandly over the town, and can be seen from all three of our main streets.  Getting into the grounds is completely free, so it is greatly recommended to go and experience the full force of the sea gales (it is windy at the edge of town!).  The Romanesque building is staggeringly old, having been built in 1158, yet the St. Rules tower which stands amongst its grounds, predates the structure still.  The tower can be climbed for a small fee (slightly discounted with a student card) and gives breath-taking panoramic views over the ancient town and its coastline.

The Pier: Located below the cathedral ruins and on the cusp of East Sands, the pier is of symbolic importance to St Andrews students.  Each Sunday after church, St Andrews students walk the pier while dressed in their University gowns.  One of the oldest student traditions, it is believed to commemorate the bravery of John Honey, who was a St Andrews student who saved the lives of five drowning sailors 200 years ago.  Take the time during your first Sunday as a student to relive this tradition: attend the Chapel Service at St. Salvator’s quad, and then join the mass of students as they walk along the pier top.  It is an exhilarating experience, and the sea of red gowns against the royal blue of the North Sea makes for some stunning photographs.

Secret Gardens:  St Andrews is also home to a few secret gardens.  If you are a nature lover, take the time to walk out to the town’s botanical gardens where you can admire the handiwork of a very talented garden team.  Within St. Mary’s quad (home to the Biology, Psychology and Classics departments) there is a small and secluded walled garden.  You can bring a coffee or some picnic snacks with a group of friends, and sit upon a tartan rug and chatter the day away.

Night time:

When out and about in St. Andrews upon a night time, think nothing of passing by groups of people up to all sorts of funny business – not an evening goes by without there being some themed party, pub crawl or charity event.  If the wonderful Freshers’ Week schedule is not your cup of tea, then here are some alternative night time activities.

Different cups of tea: It is a universally known fact that students like caffeine.  St Andrews has bountiful coffee houses, and several remain open into the evening time.  With a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, it makes for an ideal evening spent away from your dorm room.  Whether you take a few friends, your laptop, or indeed a good book – go find a comfy coffee shop armchair and order yourself a large cappuccino and extravagantly iced cupcake.

Eating out: St Andrews has a lot of places to eat out – take your pick!  Whether it be Italian or Asian cuisine, the town has it covered.  Be sure to investigate during the day as our different restaurants promote student nights on differing evenings.  Grab a few friends, make a reservation and enjoy a good meal.

Cinema:  Located on North Street, St Andrews has its very own independently run, three screen cinema.  With films being updated every week, this cinema manages to show all the latest big-name releases as well as showing artsy, independently made, and occasionally foreign language films.  Look out for a Wednesday evening, as the New Picture House very often shows a late-night movie classic.  Grab your popcorn and friends – this promises to be a nice, relaxed evening away from the rowdy antics of the three-legged pub crawls.

Live music: Aside from the official Freshers’ programme, there will be several pubs in town that will be promoting live music during your first week.  Aikmans (on Bell Street), 1 Golf Place, and the Criterion (South Street) are but some of the pubs that regularly employ local bands to give evening performances in acoustic and folksy genre.

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