As week two of the new academic year draws to a close, The Saint would like to welcome back returning students, offer advice to those arriving in the Bubble for the first time, and reflect on the months ahead.
It’s been an eventful summer, to say the least. Great Britain voted to leave the European Union on 23 June, creating shockwaves in our international community, one that had largely expected a Remain victory.
The ramifications of this vote were immediately addressed by our new principal, Professor Sally Mapstone, who assured European students that previously arranged fees and support would remain unchanged.
Professor Mapstone also spoke about the international nature of the St Andrews student body and, in a more recent message to the community, emphasised that the University would continue excelling over the challenging years to come.
On the other side of the pond, Donald Trump’s surprising success in the presidential election race has raised questions about underlying racism and xenophobia in the US. Europe is facing similar issues, with large-scale terrorist attacks in Belgium and France, as well as a series of smaller incidents across the continent, exacerbating the problem.
These issues are at the forefront of many St Andrews students’ minds and will no doubt continue to be hotly debated throughout the year.
However, as we near November’s presidential election and Great Britain’s inevitable invocation of Article 50, life in the Bubble continues largely as it has in years past.
By this point, third and fourth years know almost everything there is to know about St Andrews.
They’ve seen the University through an independence referendum, new leaders such as Professor Sally Mapstone and Rector Catherine Stihler, and now Brexit. They have become leaders in their own right, moving to top positions in committees and working hard to improve the St Andrews community.
Second years have returned this year feeling more sure-footed, having already spent a year away from home and adjusting to university life. Those who are new to St Andrews are still learning the ins and outs of the town and are new enough to be entranced by the little things older students sometimes take for granted.
The year ahead promises to be eventful. On a wider scale, the international community is navigating an era of mass uncertainty.
On a smaller scale, St Andrews is welcoming a new principal and figuring out how to excel in a post-Brexit UK. Your own year will be filled with a variety of evenings, from drunken nights at the Vic to late-night essay writing sessions and committee meetings.
As you prepare for all that lies ahead, we offer a final piece of advice: remember to have fun, but take care of yourself, too, whether that means exploring the ruins on Castle Sand during a study break or spending a whole day binge-watching Game of Thrones. Best of luck in all of your endeavours, academic and otherwise.