The University of St Andrews, as many of its students have expressed, is a veritable bubble. Its loyal residents very rarely leave its borders during term time, other than a quick trip to Edinburgh for some shopping, or a cheeky fish and chips in Anstruther. We have been indoctrinated into the idea that anything further than a ten minute walk is too far, and casually catch taxis into the Badlands. Why would we need to leave the Bubble in any case? All that we could want is here – easy access to pubs, a quick Tesco run, and the convenience of online shopping. We have countless balls and themed Bops to keep us going, and even a magnificent bookstore that hosts brilliant authors. What more could we ask for?
The pleasure of going to uni in a country like Scotland, or even the United Kingdom in general, is the easy access it provides to countless opportunities of attending various colourful and dynamic events. St Andrews most definitely does not provide its students with every experience, as a small town of its nature will never live up to the variety of locales and intrigue that a larger city will provide.
As such, we, as the residents of the Bubble, should venture out and explore some of these wonderful adventures, before retiring back to the cobbled streets of our beloved town in time for classes. You could complain that venturing all across the country will interfere with your studies and class-going, and that is most definitely not what I am advocating. You should plan any escapes with reference to upcoming tests or assignments, but the day-to-day readings provided by our lovely lecturers can as easily be perused on a train as it can be in the comfort of the library.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure and luck of attending a Green Day concert in Manchester while they were on the Revolution Radio tour. It was an experience I will never forget or regret, despite having to miss a couple of classes to attend. On a muddy Tuesday night, I trudged through the Manchester streets, from my dingy hostel to the Arena, and finally came face-to-face with the band that had ruled my teen years. As the first notes of Mike Dirnt’s guitar rang through the arena, I lost any sense of trepidation I had over my escape from St Andrews.
Some might say that going to Manchester in the middle of the week while I had classes to attend was irresponsible and downright dangerous, but those were the lengths I would go to in order to see Green Day perform live. Since there was no chance of them performing in St Andrews, to Manchester I had to go. That is not to say everyone should hop on a train to Manchester. Many bands and artists perform much closer to home in Edinburgh or Glasgow. There are even some worthwhile gigs in smaller cities and towns around us like Dundee or Kirkcaldy. Ed Sheeran, for example, will be performing in Edinburgh soon, and Drake was just there as well.
Although it is always great to see bigger performances, simultaneously be on the look out for smaller bands and artists who perform in various pubs and spaces around Scotland. They are much cheaper to see, and will also be easier to access than the larger venues. I recently went to see The Sherlocks, a fairly new band from Sheffield, in Dunfermline, and I was not disappointed. Accommodation is always an issue when leaving the bubble, especially if you’re not from the area. Luckily the United Kingdom has quite a few hostels that can house you for under £15. It might not be five star accommodation, but it will get you through the night in one piece.
I have also found that, in absence of a car, it is quite difficult getting around late at night. Trains are useful for getting to a location, but will not always be a valid option for getting back as they only run until certain times. Ditto for busses. Renting a car is only possible if you’re over the age of twenty-five, or if you’re willing to pay incredible amounts in insurance – but then you, as the driver, cannot indulge in a wee bevvy.
I have also tried the car route on a spontaneous trip to Glasgow, and that was more trouble than it was worth. The car needs to be charged every fifty miles, and there aren’t as many charging points along the roads as one is lead to believe. The easiest way is to spend the night and then take an early train back. If you find yourself bored during the summer, why not make a trip to either the Glasgow Summer Sessions in August at Bellahousten Park, where Eminem will be headlining this year, or down to London for the British Summertime Hyde Park festival to see The Killers, Green Day, Justin Bieber, and Kings of Leon headlining, among others? The world outside the Bubble does not only provide one with access to artists and bands, but also an array of cultural events.
Edinburgh in particular is pretty good with hosting interesting and entertaining events, one of the most popular, of course, being the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August. I highly recommend ending your summer slightly early in order to make it back for this eclectic and inspiring event. You will find performances of every nature on Edinburgh’s streets that will both shock and entertain you. Many of our own St Andreans are heavily involved in the shows that are put on. At the same time, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo will take place, which is also worth a look.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous during revision week, you could venture up north into the Highlands to see the Highland Games. These take place in almost every town and city. An exhibition of Scottish culture and history, they are incredible to watch (or take part in). Besides that, many of the towns around St Andrews also provide some entertainment in local flower festivals, whisky tours and more. Do not think to remain in the Bubble during term time simply because it provides for all your basic needs.
Take the time to explore and discover the rest of the world before you get stuck in a city job after graduation.
Even Bilbo Baggins realised that there is always time for an adventure.