Haley Scheer tells us all about a summer spent in The Bubble.
Time flies. Though the year has passed in the blink of an eye, I think back to the start of last summer, and how those three months seemed like an eternity. Little did I know, even they would pass quicker than I could imagine.
First year finished, flat for next year sorted, and the lease starting on the first of July… what reason did I not have to stay in St Andrews for the summer? Little did I know, I was in for a surprise. The reality of this decision set in when I arrived back in grey St Andrews after a brief month at home, only to find that Scotland was not miraculously transformed into a tropical paradise in the summer as I had half-heartedly hoped.
Having never lived alone before, moving into a six-person flat alone was a shock. The first few days were spent tiptoeing around, listening to every creak and sound from upstairs and planning my escape should I hear footsteps coming down the stairs. It was a lonely first few days, and only just the beginning. Luckily I soon got used to the sounds that any ancient house will make, and became exceptional at reassuring myself that I did NOT believe in ghosts.
Wandering the streets of St Andrews left me feeling confused at first – where were the students? Who were all these old Scottish folk and why did there seem to be an army of golfers invading? I didn’t understand where I fit in this foreign town, as everything that I had known so far was gone. But by the end of the summer I would be relishing those slow afternoons, lamenting the transformation into the university town once again.
Often I was at a loss as to how to occupy my time. TV soon became boring, and Facebook was depressingly full of pictures of exotic places, and friends were usually preoccupied with traveling and had little desire to hear about mundane life in St Andrews. My boredom at times became unbearable, and I took up countless hobbies, even, at an all time low, transforming my living room into the world’s greatest fort. But even forts get old after a while, which only absolute boredom will teach you.
Time slowed down, as lazy days were spent meandering the tourist-filled streets in a dream-like trance, basked in sunshine with not a single student in sight. The urgency of bustling students running between classes, long Tesco queues and aisles constantly empty of alcohol and food, and the drunken madness that characterises St. Andrews during the semesters was gone. What was left was St Andrews in its purest form – an enchanting, ancient seaside village, a tourist destination and a golfer’s paradise.
Though there were challenges and it was often lonely at times, I have unforgettable memories from the summer, and it became one of my biggest learning experiences. I soon made an incredible group of friends from work, most of whom were locals who had returned from university to work at home for the summer. Apart from working, we spent the days going for evening drives, movie nights, work nights out followed by extremely hungover shifts spent in suffering, a trip to Fat Sam’s, and of course many laughs. It was a great feeling to be part of such a tight-knit, different group, knowing that the same friendly faces would greet me at work each morning, recalling the previous night’s antics and making plans for later. Over time I grew to love it. One evening, talking to one of my closest work friends who had grown up in St Andrews, he commented on how strange it was to be such good friends with a student. That moment made me realise why the summer had been worth it – to see the side of St Andrews that so few students venture out to see.
Though initially it was hard to get used to the summer version of St Andrews, after time it became one that I often reminisce about, missing those lazy summer afternoons wandering around the quiet town, going for bike rides along the golf course, and having picnics on the beach. Even living alone became something I enjoyed, as it renders you completely free – a lifestyle not many get to experience. Though I admit it was challenging, I do not regret it, and encourage those of you with an open mind and a desire to see a different side of St Andrews to try it out at some point during your time here. St Andrews is a magical place but one that, like many things, cannot be fully appreciated until all sides of it are seen.
Photography – Haley Scheer