Today we took a day trip to the town of Saint Andrews, where we visited the university that shares the name. It is the third oldest university in the English-speaking world, founded in 1413! It's also recognized as one of the top 25 universities in the world.
I hadn't realized how different the Scottish and English university systems are; the Scottish one is a bit of hybrid between English programs (three-year, highly specialized from day one) and the traditional liberal arts undergraduate degree programs in American universities.
This is the main chapel, situated on the main quad.
The main quad is where most university traditions take place, such as the shaving cream fight! I loved hearing about the various traditions at the school. You can tell how proud the university community is of their university in the way they talk about it; I think it would be a fantastic place to study.
The university basically is the town: there are 6,000 undergrads; 1,000 grad students and 4,000 locals. Town life is completely focused on academia and student life--except for that wee other local famous sport, golf, which has been played there since 1,500 AD! (It's hard for most Americans, I think, to wrap their minds around how OLD history is in other places, places where people are going about their everyday lives, when our country in comparison is so brand spankin' new!)
Our guide explained to us that all around the town are cobblestone markings denoting where Protestant martyrs were burnt at the stake. The most famous are these in memory of Patrick Hamilton, located outside the main quad. In 1528 he took six hours to die! It is believed that if one steps on the initials, one will fail every exam and never graduate.
This is the residence hall where Prince William lived his first year.
At dawn on May Day, students run down these steps into the North Sea, sung to by the University Madrigals. It is said that this is the only way to remove the curse of failing if one has accidentally stepped on the "PH" cobblestones outside of the main quad.
The ruins of Saint Andrews Castle, bordering--um, falling into--the sea.
We then headed to Glamis Castle, where the Earls of Strathmore have been living for over 600 years! Can you imagine building a castle and having your family live in it continuously for that long?! I loved it there. We had a gem of a guide who breathed life into every room he described, as if he had personally known all the previous inhabitants (including Queen Elizabeth's family).
The spouses of the G8 spent the day here when the Heads of State met in Scotland; we walked around the room where they had lunch.
As for me, the doctor yesterday pronounced I have mild bronchitis and acute sinusitis. I'm on a different antibiotic and taking it as easy as I can. I got to rest a lot today in the bus, and luckily it only rained for a while. (Egad, this country is wet and cold!)
One by one, however, the others in our group are dropping like flies from flu... At the first sign of virus, they're taking Tamiflu (the powerful anti-virus medication that treats a wide variety of viruses, including H1N1, helping one to recover more quickly). We have enough of the prescription for all of us, just in case.