As St Andrews rose to be the number two university in the UK, proving to me that I made the best choice after being officially taking my place as an Oxbridge reject back in 2016, I decided to look back at my time here and think about all the people I’ve met during my time in these hallowed halls. Let me say upfront that I am disappointed.
I grew up on a countryside estate in Haiti where daddy taught me how to shoot, mummy taught me the etiquette of wine, the chef cooked, the maid cleaned, our security was armed, and not 1 but 2 Land Rovers adorned our driveway. We rubbed elbows with the elite — diners included various ambassadors — and at a young age I was blessed to meet some of the world’s big names (the Clintons, the Bushs, the Gates, etc.).
Eventually, we left, or perhaps more accurately fled, our haven in a fourth world country. The staff diminished, the cars became eco-friendlier (my mother was always a bit gauche caviar) but the particulars were still the same. The master bedroom had a loft library, my father still had his study, and we still went out and bought a 7-foot Christmas tree every Christmas. Trips to the ballet, the opera, and classical music concerts broke up my everyday life at my nice French school in the heart of Miami. I then went to the best private school my state had to offer (number 2 in the nation, naturally) and dropped my fledgling football career to play a real sport: water polo.
This is of course where my University hunt began and besides Cambridge and La Sorbonne I searched for some fallback options au cas ou. Lo and behold St Andrews, a charming university nestled in a picturesque seaside town, lambasted for its poshness, host of a decent water polo team (at least by Scottish standards) and, of course, alma mater of the prince himself, a man whose blood is as blue as my own. If other plans fell through, I knew that I always had another option.
2 years later I finally set foot on the shores of West Sands ready to embrace the people and culture that my previous New England liberal arts college seemed to so distinctly hate. It was a fun year to be sure. The status quo of Saturdays basement house parties was replaced by a veritable menagerie of Dyonisian events. I hazily wandered from whatever Starfields was, to fashion shows, to a mock Oktoberfest, to balls for any and everything. I saw signet rings, tweed, barbour jackets, I finally found my place amongst my people. However, now more than a month removed from my time in St Andrews I realise that there’s a problem.
All the pomp and circumstance at the events of St Andrews was a thin veneer for just how normal this university is: a panem et circenses from the bottom up to appease those of us with actual class and culture. I did what any good scientist (as we all know philosophy is the one true science) would do and decided to test my hypothesis. Through the extremely scientific medium of an internet quiz (Junk Trove’s posh test) I decided to try to find the average score of my fellow St Andreans. I sent the quiz out to everyone I knew, omnia genera of St Andrews students and I found that we averaged out to a paltry 49%, we are the salt of the earth. Junk Trove themselves states that we are “[a]s ordinary as cardboard. You’re a man/woman of the people but show some signs of manners and being brought up right.” Meanwhile, I scored an admirable 79%, a score that would definitely make mummy and daddy proud.
I sat and I wept as some of friends scored as low as “Chavtastic” on the be all end all of posh ratings. I had been rubbing elbows and swapping spit with people far below my social class. The cold elitism I had been raised to embrace was replaced by the warmth and welcoming of ordinary folk. Conversations were struck and drinks were shared between all. Perhaps, for some, this is what people enjoy. The idea that the anyone can enjoy the polo and whether standard, VIP or VVIP it doesn’t matter in the sweat and adrenaline of a sinners. We all share the same Uni; we go to the same events and even the locals will be friendly if you are similarly friendly enough at the pub. There’s a sense of community in St Andrews that exists in spite of its characterisation as the posh school. Students play posh, they have their manners, but they are also inviting and willing to chat with just about anyone. So, while I weep and dream of a better life at Durham or Brookes I hope that you common folk enjoy each other’s company and carpe not just your diems but your noctes as well. It seems as though no matter what pedestal the British public put us on, we’re not that different after all.