Tuesday, November 3, 2009

St. Andrews University

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!)

Another view of the chapel.

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.

This quaint street leads to the ocean.

This Episcopal Church of Scotland is along that street. It was so pretty!

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.


Tina in CT said...

Just gorgeous and all that history! The university is exactly what I'd picture one would be like in Scotland. Everything is so green too (all that rain and dampness). Wouldn't you have loved to study there for a semester in college? I'm so glad that you were well enough to go.

I want to walk down that village street and end up looking at the beautiful view of the sea.

Can't wait to see all your pictures when I visit you. You'll have to put them on a stick and we'll go get them printed. I can make you a Scotland scrapbook to have this winter and give it to you when I next see you in March.

Is it the flu or a stomach bug going around? Throwing up doesn't go along with the flu.

Anonymous said...

It all looks so wonderful!
Some of the pictures remind me of Oxford.
Hope your new medication will help you feel better.

Katya said...

You know the climate is cold and miserable when someone from RUSSIA says it is cold and miserable... although I do remember from our time in Russia that Moscow was a treat compared to the cold-wet-windy-damp of St. Petersburg.

MoscowMom said...

Mom--Not going to want a scrapbook, but thanks. I've taken hardly any pictures. And in between the bus rides yesterday, I ripped into the students (not all, but most) in a way I didn't even think myself capable for attitude and behavior. Not everything is as golden as the stonework at St. Andrews--although overall, all is just fine.

Hevel said...

Just a little side note: The Scottish are actually British. Eveyone on that Island is British, and it is loosely applied to all people in the UK (though Northern Isrish Catholics will spit at being called British). So I assume you meant a difference between the English and Scottish systems.

Have you had the chance to eat a fried candy bar yet?

MoscowMom said...

Thanks, Hevel! Yeah, that's what I meant. And Mom--I'm not taking more pictures because: you can't take them inside historical places; you can't take them from a bus window; you can't easily take them when on a tour w/o slowing down the tour; and I don't want to expose my camera to rain.

The Expatresse said...

I love Scotland, although I have only been to the West side of it. I like all of the UK.

I hear you on the cold and damp, however. It really is colder there because it is so damp and nothing is heated.

Tina in CT said...

I can make a mini scrapbook for you from your trip.

Annie said...

Very, very beautiful....though you brought me back to reality with the "damp and cold" remark.