Raisin, May Dip, the Pier Walk … all are high ranking “things to do” on many students’ St Andrews bucket lists. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it’s a list of things to do and experience before you graduate. Something unique about St Andrews is the opportunity to take part in centuries-old traditions. One such tradition is attending the Sunday service at St Salvator’s Chapel and Thursday night’s Compline service in St Leonard’s, two of St Andrews oldest churches. The medieval church settings add to the quiet atmosphere, and all are welcome regardless of religious faith or lack thereof. Another iconic and uniquely St Andrews tradition is the undergraduate red gown – so take as many photos as you can around town with it on. Taking one every year also gives a chance to record your academic strip tease. If it’s your last year, you might also want to consider buying a memento of your time here from the University shop so you can take a piece of St Andrews with you wherever you end up.
However, our time here should be more than just the University’s main traditions, and there are other unique experiences to be had that are just as important for fully appreciating the town and University. University is the time to discover and try new things – especially when sports and societies are involved. So go ahead and join a Society or sports club you’ve never heard of and give it a go – you may end up really enjoying yourself! And if not, at least you will have a laugh and maybe a new story to tell your friends.
The same logic can be applied to your academic life: take the opportunity to attend a lecture in a subject you don’t study in order to broaden your intellectual horizons. Public lectures take place throughout the year and are given by some of the best minds in their respective fields.
If you’ve already had your fill of lectures there’s always Debating Society events. Not only are they free (all students are automatically members), but they also present a wider variety of viewpoints on a wide variety of relevant topics. It’s worth attending at least one in your time at St Andrews, and there is a prize for the best audience contribution.
It is also worth checking out the various shows hosted by Mermaids throughout the year. They showcase some of the best student theatrical and writing talent at St Andrews and some even make it to the Fringe – meaning you have the opportunity to preview Fringe shows before they hit Edinburgh for cheaper prices.
St Andrews is also the place for trying as many different ice-cream flavours as possible, especially at its award-winning ice cream parlour, Janetta’s. The parlour will spoil you for choice when it comes to varieties of its gelato – so make it a challenge to try as many as possible during your time here. (An efficient way of doing it would be whenever you need a study break – personally, I find that nothing beats stress like ice cream.)
St Andrews students are also spoilt for choice when it comes to the number of bars and pubs dotted around. As with the ice creams, make the most of the pub-crawls throughout the year and challenge yourself to have a drink at every pub in St Andrews. On the way you can also decide whether you’re Team Whey Pat or Team Drouthy’s when it comes to nachos.
For many of us a night out at the Union remains the go-to option: Karaoke and the Bop on Friday nights are student classics worth a shot. And speaking of shots, what do you get if you mix vodka shots with a WKD? The infamous St Andrews’ concoction called a Pablo. Although relatively new to the scene it makes a cheaper alternative to proper cocktails found in various other places around town.
It is also worth bearing in mind that the town is not just known for its University and everyone has the opportunity to visit the site of one of the most iconic film scenes. Jogging on West Sands à la Chariots of Fire may be a struggle for the less athletically inclined of us, but is no less beautiful on walks. St Andrews also has its fair share of ceilidhs throughout the year, although the St Andrews’ Day Street Ceilidh and the Ceilidh in the Castle are unmissable for bringing town and gown together in a relaxed setting.
While there’s a lot to do in St Andrews, not all memories have to be made there – if you can, escape the Bubble and explore the rest of Scotland. Many societies do nights out in bigger cities such as Glasgow and Dundee, which provide an alternative to the usual St Andrews haunts. If clubbing isn’t your thing, walk the coastal path to Crail and take in the scenery of a beautiful stretch of coastline. You can also take a day trip out to Anstruther and visit the famous fish and chip shop.
Last but not least, the most essential item on the St Andrews Bucket List is a pier jump. Use it as an excuse to get your friends together and celebrate the end of summer exams and one last dip in the North Sea before everyone scatters to the four corners of the world.