After graduating from St Andrews, I moved back to Texas to pursue another degree. Continuing my education in a different environment revealed to me the many benefits that I gained from my time in Scotland.
The best advice I can give to a current student is to never stop. By this I mean taking advantage of every academic and social opportunity you can at St Andrews. Even if down the road you find yourself in a similar environment, it is unlikely that you will have the time you currently have to take advantage of the experiences St Andrews has to offer. Travel, go to social events, join any number of student societies, and take classes that interest you. Go to a pub and have a deep chat about anything, try to learn from your friends in other disciplines, work attentively on your coursework, and make sure to have fun every once in a while. At no other point in your life will you be surrounded by such a diverse group of people or wide-ranging opportunities.
For me, as an Arts student, it was important to learn how to work hard as it could have been tempting to procrastinate – especially with only four contact hours a week in my final year. Learning to work hard, research, and write efficiently will make your transition into further education or work experience that much easier. Trust me when I say that while undergraduate life is difficult, your first step out of university is unlikely to be easier and will require a similar skill set.
As a graduate, your St Andrews education will continue to benefit you in many ways. In addition to your formal education, you will have the chance to learn from and interact with other students in a rigorous environment. When I first arrived, I remember thinking that I would seriously need to “up my academic game” to even be able to hold a conversation with some of my classmates. For this reason, the academic reputation of the University will precede and continue to benefit you long after graduation – even as far away as Texas.
While I enjoy what I am doing now, what I will miss most about St Andrews is having so many friends in one place. You will realise upon graduating that your experience is roughly 30% the University and town and 70% the friends that you make. Make sure to keep in touch with them through social media and Skype. Even if you are two or three thousand miles away from most of them, it is surprising how often these friends will reappear in your life.
Originally, I was nervous about attending a university so far from home. However, after an amazing four years, and now as an alumnus, I am so happy that I chose St Andrews.