As our minds slowly clear, the fog of holiday indolence dissipating under the harsh light of academic obliga- tion, it almost seems as though the students had never left St Andrews. The wind still blows cold over West Sands, the rain falls unceasingly, and impenetrable darkness continues to envelop our wee town at promptly three o’clock every afternoon.
The memories from our respective vacations are dimming, mirroring the sober grey sky as they dull and fade from view. It’s hard to imagine we were ever away – but away we were, and away we will continue to go, for planned holidays and impromptu adventures, on planes and locomotives, accompanied by our friends and our thoughts.
Neither leaving nor returning to St Andrews is difficult, practically speaking. The town is so small that our daily routes are worn into the cobblestones, shiny and smooth from generations of student peregrination. St Andrews is that thin, ragged paperback, yellowed with age and crumbling from overuse, and though you know all of the words, every read brings forth something new: the discovery of a coffee shop, the birth of a relationship, the happenstance meeting of a kindred spirit.
St Andrews is ancient, its longevity attested to by elaborate traditions and a semi-formidable castle; however, hiding between the many knowns are tiny, jeweled novelties, ensconced in the crevices of our weekly routines.
Returning from holiday, St Andrews seems somewhat stifling. There are not a lot of options provided by either the town or the University for things to do – at night, there are a plethora of bars to occupy one’s time, but beyond that the choices are few. However, its insular nature forces the students that live here to look very closely at both their lives and the lives of others, and, consequently, find beauty and very often mirth in the smallest and most unexpected places.
Walking down any one of the three streets, at any time of the day, you are bound to encounter a familiar face, consolidating your connection to the town and your school. We are placed in close quarters and so become close, at first proximally and then personally.
St Andrews, unlike the bigger cities from where many of us hail, is not glamorous or exciting, bursting with life and culture. It may not have nice clubs, engaging museums, or hole-in-the-wall, niche bookstores.
It is, however, kind, endearingly strange and at times incredibly hilarious. It is an odd little town in rural Scotland, nestled by the grey North Sea and, to much of the world, anonymous. To us, however, it is home: we are St Andreans – as posh as that may sound – and regardless of where we head on from here will remain as such.