It seems bizarre that this time two years ago, I had no idea where I’d be! My plans were in the hands of St Andrews students, and despite 5 years of undergraduate, I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the Bubble. Elections week was a bit of a blur to be honest – I’d been involved in campaigns during my undergrad, but nothing prepared me for the rollercoaster of elections as a candidate; the long days, late nights, banner painting, video filming, facebook spamming, hustings, debates, freezing afternoons outside of the library, running around town like a mad thing to meet various clubs. I had a plan for these things but what I couldn’t have anticipated the support, from close friends and strangers, offers from friends of friends to hang a banner or join the team at the crack of dawn to hand out flyers, the camaraderie between sabbatical candidates that developed as we spent our week together. Both times round, elections week was one of the most stressful and exhausting weeks of my life, but also one of the times where the St Andrews spirit shone through strongest.
After a whirlwind month of finishing exams, coaching in South Africa, graduation and moving flat, I found myself in a position of learning the ropes while simultaneously being expected by club committees to know what was going on; I am incredibly grateful to my colleagues both within sport and across the university for their support and guidance from Day 1, while I found my feet. I found it very strange that the AU President seemed to be separate from the other sabbaticals and was surprised by the reaction when we worked as a team of 5. I would strongly encourage all future sabbs to continue to work together – you five are the only ones who know fully what the experience is actually like, so make the most of the team!
The nature of a sabbatical role mean that things can spring up from anywhere – you have your day all planned out, and then suddenly that goes out of the window when something totally unexpected lands on your desk! I found it difficult to leave work if things weren’t done and to go home to switch off, or take some time off to recharge! I’ve learned to be more flexible and that everything will get done, even if it’s not in the way I had planned; even after 18 months in the role, new things still pop up and no two days are ever the same, but I’ve developed a much better balance of work and life as time has gone on.
When I initially decided to run for the role, I didn’t really know what the job entailed. I knew I would be heavily involved in developing the sporting experience for our students, but I had no idea I would literally be given a blank page and the opportunity to go in whichever direction I wanted to do it. I could never have imagined the opportunities this job has opened up, the chance to work with different departments in the University and different organisations across the country and further afield.
My term as AU President has been a steep learning curve, but one of the best things I’ve done. To next year’s team, I might be a bit biased but I genuinely believe we have some of the best jobs in the world – enjoy every minute!