There comes a point in those halcyon days of the summer before University when you think you’re ready- You’ve bought your £3 pots and pans from Wilko, had a crash course on washing machines, sorted out your student bank account, read up on all your classes, and even planned out your outfit for moving-in day. Sadly, none of this is enough to prepare you for the reality of being a St Andrews Fresher. Lucky for you, we have come up with this potentially handy guide featuring 25 things every Fresher should know
1) St Andrews may be one of the finest universities in Britain but make no mistake, you are in Scotland. A note to international students: this is a separate country to England. Do not get this wrong, particularly not in front of Scottish students you wee fool!
2) Don’t buy all your course books- and definitely don’t buy them new! A lot of the time you will not really need to buy all 5 essential books on your reading list. If you do, great deals come up on Facebook from past students, or else you can find lots of bargains in charity shops. Who knows, perhaps that second hand book you have just lugged back to halls could be full of useful annotations!
3) Academic parents are like spiders- they’re more scared of you than you are of them. And by scared I mean terrified that they won’t find the perfect children to unleash all their long-considered plans for Raisin Weekend. You will find parents, don’t panic!
4) Whether it is meeting a lecturer in Sainsbury’s whilst you are verbally abusing the self-checkout machines (a true experience for me), or running into an ex on your way to your 9am, meeting people you know at awkward times will be a big part of the next four years of your life. If you are planning on having a private date, try Cupar… or maybe the Outer Hebrides.
5) Being assigned a roommate can be the best thing to happen to you in first year. But even if you do become best friends in Freshers’ Week it is crucial for both your sakes that you each get some time alone while settling in. Make sure to compare your schedules and agree on times when each person gets the room to themselves
6) Sign up to a local doctor’s surgery ASAP. The combination of alcohol-induced clumsiness, Freshers Flu and cooking your own food may well mean that at some point in your first semester you will need to visit a doctor. When you do, you won’t want to be messing around with forms, so get organised as soon as you move in.
7) You only need a 7. For most of you our 20 point marking system will start off as a bit of a mystery. Never fear, I’ve developed a handy guide to help explain what your marks really mean*:
Getting in this bracket is an impressive achievement for all the wrong reasons- this is what you get if you turn in a cat meme instead of your assignment.
The cruellest of marks- not enough to have passed but you do qualify to retake. Better luck next time!
The University may call it a ‘Bare Pass’ but if you want the bare truth then listen up- getting a 7 is all you need to pass and move on to 2nd Year and no one can take that away from you.
There is definitely room for improvement in your work but on the bright side reading through your work didn’t make the marker want to quit their job. Keep up the good work!
You actually read something that wasn’t on SparkNotes or Wikipedia. Congratulations. Your parents must be proud.
Doing this well probably means you have realised that you are paying to actually learn something at University (unless you’re Scottish and pay more for plastic bags than you do your education)
You’re a genius. Or your tutor has a crush on you.
*For subject-specific advice about the marking system, it may also be worth looking up subject specific advice, which can be found in your subject’s handbook.
8) Your tutors really do not care if your computer dies – BACK UP YOUR FILES!
9) The library, like life, is what you make of it. Whether you need a printer, a coffee, or to cry on someone’s shoulder because you didn’t take heed of tip 8, the library staff are there to help. During revision periods they also organise the best stress-relieving events including free coffee and the opportunity to meet Alpacas. In addition to all of this, they have one or two books.
10) The gym has the best tasting water in Scotland and it is worth getting a membership just for that. The exercise bikes and cross-trainers also let you watch live TV so bring headphones and make sure to time your gym sesh for the best daytime TV. I recommend Tipping Point.
11) Never, ever, ever complain to fourth years about your work load. If you want sympathy, phone home. Talking of which, make sure to send the odd message back to your parents to let them know you are still alive.
12) We take our traditions very seriously. Taking part in the surreal foam fights of Raisin Weekend, avoiding standing on the PH and facing the freezing embrace of the sea on May Dip are what separates St Andrews students from the rest of the world. Be proud to be one of us.
13) Try not to stress about emailing your advisors/tutors/lecturers. Most of them are human and all of them are there to help. But NEVER EVER do it drunk.
14) Make friends with the cleaners at your halls. Not only do they have all-too-many stories to share, but if they like you then they will turn a blind eye to any of your slight infractions or pranks. (A friend of mine even got away with keeping a collection of ice axes in her room. She’s a hiker not a mobster, I promise).
15) Whenever you are sharing a kitchen with other students, it is inevitable that your food will be stolen. No avocado, leftover pizza, or freshly baked mug-cake is safe. Passive aggressive post-it notes on all your food usually do the trick. Alternatively, you can try turning vegetarian… to this day no one has ever stolen my Quorn.
16) There will come a time sometime during your first year when you decide to pull an all-nighter. The adrenaline will get you through the night but the next day is always hell. Grab a free cup of coffee in Topping & Co (without doubt the best bookshop in St Andrews) and remind yourself that you are only young once… then go to bed.
17) Just because you can subsist off pasta, pizza and the occasional apple, does not mean you should. Eat nutritiously, please!
18) If you ever hear that people are going off to try and see the Northern Lights drop everything and join them. Do not be the person that misses out and then has to look at endless aurora photos on their Facebook newsfeed the next morning. That night might be your only chance to see them while you are at St Andrews.
19) On Wednesday’s we don’t wear pink but we do wear headphones and hoodies- open day season is just around the corner and you do not want to get caught in the flocks of visitors that swan around the place. If you do have to leave home on Wednesdays, then put your head down and walk quickly. It’s the only way to survive.
20) At some point in your first semester someone will try to persuade you that you need to wear your gowns to lectures and/or exams. As a special reward for making it this far through this article, you will not be the person who falls for this. You’re welcome.
21) Forgetting your matric card on nights out is a mistake that every Fresher will only make once. Not only will it make getting into the Union much harder but at the end of the night you will find yourself knocking on the window of some poor person to beg them to let you back into halls.
22) Be prepared to learn some Scottish slang. The jannies are the janitors; if someone is steamin’ that means they are drunk, but if they are scunnered then they are exhausted.
23) Make friends with people whose parents send care packages – this one is self-explanatory.
24) Leave the bubble of St Andrews once every so often. You may not need to go far away but it is always important to remember that there is a world outside the three streets of St Andrews.
25) You will hear this advice a lot during your first year but it is true and worth repeating- when it comes to finding housing for next year, start early!