“Summer Study was the confidence boost I needed to pursue my dreams”- An Interview with Lauren

Jonny Airey
Wednesday 20 September 2023

Lauren studied at the University of St Andrews in 2022 as part of our Summer School’s collaboration with William & Mary. We caught up with Lauren to learn more about her Summer Study experience and how that inspired a return to St Andrews in 2023 for her Master’s degree in Marine Ecosystem Management.

Lauren is standing in front of green and purple bush wearing a maroon St Andrews University jumper.

Why did you decide to apply to St Andrews Summer Study?

Growing up, I was lucky enough to travel to Scotland with my family and I fell in love with the country. I always wanted to study at St Andrews, exploring the historical town, wandering on the beach, and learning from brilliant professors. When I saw that William & Mary was offering the one-month course at St Andrews, I knew that was finally my chance.

Which course did you study?

I took ‘Scotland’s Evolving Landscape’, a geology course taught by Professor William Austin of St Andrews, and ‘Mythic Scotland Thru Culture’, a history course taught by Professor Frederick Corney of William & Mary.

Green lakeside area with ruined tower looking over lake.

What did you enjoy most about St Andrews Summer Study?

My favorite part was how much we were able to accomplish in just one month. Because we were taking a geology and a history course, there was a vast range of things for us to learn about Scotland. We trekked all over the country, seeing mountain ranges, peatlands, highland games, Edinburgh, Glasgow, museums, lots of sheep, and a whiskey distillery. I was truly amazed how we could learn something in the classroom, and by the next day, see it in real life. We took a trip to the highlands for the geology course, and seeing everything we learned about, towering above us or right under our feet, was incredible. It reminded me why I want to pursue a career in science; sometimes the best way to learn is to get out of the classroom.

Landscape view of Glenfinnan Monument and the lake and mountains in the distance

Did you feel supported by the academic staff during the programme? 

The academic staff were a tremendous help to me. As expected, they provided excellent teaching throughout the programs and help with coursework, but beyond that, they really helped me to find my next steps in life. I was about to enter my last year of undergraduate studies when I did summer study, and I was completely unsure as to what would come after graduation. Luckily, my professors were incredibly supportive and understanding, and were an invaluable resource to me. They would happily sit with me and talk about the future and help me figure out the type of life I’d like to lead.

Picture looking across East Sands Beach back towards the old Cathedral

What did you enjoy most about living in St Andrews?

I absolutely adore the town. The architecture is stunning, the people are welcoming, and even when the sky is grey, it feels like a good day. I often found myself spending hours exploring the town and running off to explore East Sands at low tide. Plus, the proximity to fish and chips is unmatched.

Portrait shot of Lauren sitting at a restaurant presenting her meal of fish and chips.

Youve just returned for your postgraduate degree at St Andrews; how did your Summer Study experience impact your decision?

I genuinely believe my summer study experience is the reason I am here. I learned about all the resources St. Andrews has to offer and was thoroughly impressed by the quality of teaching. I also saw how St Andrews’ location in Scotland offers itself to hands-on, real-world experiences. As someone fascinated with the ocean and nature, there is truly no better place to be. Finally, going abroad to St Andrews for that first month gave me the confidence I needed to move abroad. Summer study was the confidence boost I needed to pursue my dreams.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone thinking about applying to St Andrews Summer Study?

Trying something new and going abroad is scary, but it is also exciting, fun, and challenging. You will come out the other side a stronger, more confident version of yourself. So don’t let fear hold you back. If I did, my life would be completely different. There are few places on earth as special as St Andrews. It is a place to be yourself, to build confidence, to explore, and to learn. If you apply and choose to come here, I promise you’ll be glad you did.

Lauren on the golf course holding a golf club and wearing sunglasses.

Thank you to Lauren for sharing her experience and we wish her well for her postgraduate studies. If you’d like to know more information about St Andrews Summer Study, please email [email protected].  

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