Originally founded at one of the universities embroiled in the college admissions bribery scandal earlier this summer, the newly introduced Expat Society is the latest American export to St Andrews. With a focus of connecting the diverse international community in town, the society has been massively appealing to students across campus. While The Saint reached out for an interview with their committee members, their Los Angeles-based marketing team denied a press release, leading us to therefore attempt to uncover some of the secrecy shrouding the society, to offer readers an understanding of exactly what the Expat Society is and what it entails for St Andreans.
‘Expatriate,’ or ‘expat’ as it is commonly shortened to, is defined by Oxford Dictionary as ‘a person who lives outside their native country.’ The society vehemently rejects this definition and association, instead adopting a more fluid and loose categorisation as ‘anyone with a curiosity for the world.’ While their criteria appear to be ambiguous and multi-faceted, this is perhaps fitting for a society that caters to a new generation of third-culture kids, who, despite coming from a diversity of backgrounds and a fluid and mobile upbringing, can bond over their common lack of singular roots. Indeed, the prospect of the society seems fascinating as it aims to bring together globally nomadic people, offering them a sense of belonging through a community that values their diversity. ‘A home away from home,’ as it is described, is important in today’s highly globalised world where people live in many homes and countries throughout their life and constantly move around and transition. With international students comprising 45 per cent of the total student population, St Andrews is renowned for its international cohort, constituting of people from Japan to New Zealand. Therefore, the Expat Society seems to be tailor-made for the University, allowing students to create and maintain relationships independent of geographical barriers and connect through a common passion for multiculturalism.
While the society was pioneered by four students at the University of Southern California in 2014, over the last five years it has expanded to four other locations; Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston and St Andrews (the first international branch of the society and a signifier of its growing global outreach). The St Andrews team is comprised of ten members working to put together and host a variety of events to allow opportunities for networking and socialising with similar people from all four corners of the globe. In a world that is dominated by increasing connectivity between people, the Expat Society facilitates this, allowing you to meet friends and friends of friends. In a small town like St Andrews, this creates a deeper sense of community and expands students’ social networks.
Their first event in St Andrews, the ‘Expat Society x St Andrews – Meet + Greet,’ was a highly informative event for prospective members. Held in the newest eatery in town and sister company to the beloved The Adamson, Next Door, the event involved members of the committee milled about the room, introducing the society and its ethos to keen students. A lovely touch to the evening was the customised menu of cocktails, each named after a city with a branch of the Expat Society (the St Andrews cocktail with its tangy lime flavour was, in my unbiased opinion, the best). The event itself was an example of what the society has to offer in terms of networking opportunities and there is massive scope for exciting events, from traditional dinners to adventure expeditions in and around St Andrews. There are plans for a range of events from large-scale to more intimate experiences; daytime versus night-time jaunts; gallery visits, hikes, beach adventures and more. To further a sense of belonging to an exclusive club, members will also have the opportunity to buy exclusive merchandise in the year.
Through discussions with different team personnel, from administration to events, the society’s commitment to international exposure was highlighted. One of the most exciting aspects to the membership is exclusive access to the iOS App, Expat Connect, which allows you to find other Expat Society members (from any of the branches) in any city in the world to meet up, whether it’s for coffee or to explore something new together. Another relatively new feature is the member-only Google Chrome Plug-in that features photographs, news and weather from the members themselves, offering a more personalised update on the world around us.
The application process to join the Expat Society is a lengthy process; prospective members are required to offer links to their various social media platforms, information about the passports they hold and the countries they have lived in, extracurricular interests as well as more vague questions such as an accomplished dream and a story to tell at parties. Reminiscent of the dreaded UCAS process to apply to university, the society is looking to see how aspiring members portray themselves, what experiences they have and how well they’ll fit with the ethos of the brand. Membership does not come without strings attached, while exact rates have not yet been released, membership is expected to cost ‘the price of a fashion show ticket plus a little bit on top’ per semester. While the prices of fashion show tickets vary in St Andrews, we can imagine that membership in this elite club will carry a hefty price tag and can easily exceed £70. Nonetheless, for some keen supporters of the expat movement, this may be a small price to pay for the exclusive invitations and networking opportunities available around the world.
As it is just starting out, with only one event under its belt so far and an official launch planned for this month, there remains much to be seen about the Expat Society. It will be interesting to see what the society has in store for its members and how it will contribute to the wider ecosystem in St Andrews.
To find out more about the Expat Society, visit their website at https://www2.theexpatsociety.com/
and keep up to date through their Facebook page (@theexpatsociety).