I am in St Andrews all summer. Keen for St Andrews you say? No. I am here working. Work, work, work. Earn, earn, earn. That’s the plan. Save up money because the job I have is lucrative and I actually really, really enjoy it. So summer in St Andrews should be fabulous you say? Think again. St Andrews is famously referred to by us students as ‘The Bubble’ because of its ability to isolate you from the rest of the world. Bear in mind we jokingly refer to this loneliness during the semester, when all 8000 (or thereabouts) of us are here to keep each other company.
In the summer, however, it is entirely different. The student populace consists of summer staff staying in Andrew Melville and those who have flats with twelve-month leases to keep up with. At a rough estimate, I would say maybe about five hundred of us remain. At a push. The town, for the moment, is hollow without our fellow students. I saw the dance floor of the Vic, the whole dance floor, for the first time. Ever. With us lot making up a good third of the town numbers, there is an eerie emptiness within the three streets.
So it goes without saying that, for the time being, there really isn’t much going on. No wild karaoke nights at the Union, no waiting forty-five minutes for a drink in Ma Belles and, as mentioned, no hiding from the Vic dance floor. Even Facebook has gone into radio silence since the end of term. No daily event invitations to random society socials that you click ‘Join’ but never actually go to; no mornings of horror when you have been tagged in photos from a Wednesday night. Nothing to look at bar all of your international friends posing in selfies in their respective summery home towns.
Until you reach this period of time in the St Andrews calendar, you cannot really appreciate what it means to be in the Bubble. You would think there is some camaraderie between those of us who are around, but it remains difficult to establish. With so many of us working in different places with various shift lengths and start times, most socialisation is a fleeting hello on the way home or out the door. It’s hard to coordinate days out or nights on the lash because everyone has different days off. Bed, work and back to bed again.
One might suggest bursting the Bubble, go for a day out and maybe even visit home? This too proves very difficult to do. Again, when you work full time it’s hard to coordinate with other people. Even more so when you are scraping the barrel of your last student loan and using the pittance to keep you going until that long awaited June pay packet comes through. It’s sad that, because of lack of time or cash, you have to let your friends down, especially if you haven’t seen them in so long already.
Pretty depressing, eh? Fear not, it’s not all doom and gloom here in St Andrews. For a start, there is something the rest of you are definitely missing out on, the irony being that it is exactly what this article has just bashed for the last several paragraphs: summer in St Andrews. Studying here, we all know that Scottish weather is unpredictable at the best of times and hellish at the worst.
Summer here, however, is an entirely new experience. Being able to sit on the beach without turning blue is a rarity that, unfortunately, you are only privy to if you decide to remain here over the summer months. Watching the sun rise and set over the town is a sight to behold. And those days when you can get your friends who are here together are all the more appreciated when you can run about the beach, drink some cider and just laugh the day away.
Work friends are a saving grace too. When you are all in the same boat it’s all about looking out for each other. The banter of the workplace is not to be underappreciated, especially if it’s the only social time you can muster in the busy working week. And the nights out you do manage to organise with other friends from around the town are all the more fun because you made the effort to break the monotony of a steady work schedule.
This is an early taste of what the summer here has to offer. June is known for being a sleepy time for the town. Soon, however, we will have an entirely new group of people swarming in on us. Tourists. With the Open fast approaching, the town numbers are sure to swell again. New people, new experiences and hopefully some new stories to laugh at when our friends return next semester. As this is my first year spending the summer in St Andrews I’m very unsure of what to expect. Watch this space, I guess.
So the summer will fly in, the days will pass and the pay checks will come in. I’m sure I’ll burst the Bubble at some point, see some friends new and old and definitely have some nights out to boot. It’s only been a couple of weeks and summer is always slow to start. I’m optimistic it will be a good one. But roll on September.