Hello! I'm Alyssa Skvarla, your BA (International Honours) Intern for the 2018-2019 academic year. I'm a third year studying English and can typically be found reading in one of the many coffee shops around St Andrews. I've traveled a long way from sunny California to study first at William and Mary and now St Andrews, but my love for new experiences and traveling is perfectly cultivated through the program's opportunities. In my intern position, I hope to help everyone who is a part of the program so they have the best experience possible.

St Andrews vs William and Mary: Goodbyes

With the final craziness of exams and last-minute revision, the academic year is at a close. Our exchange students here will be departing university grounds soon, just as our students abroad will be finding their way home in the coming months. It’s a season of endings and goodbyes, and though I’m only a third-year, it’s my final farewell to St Andrews as my full-time academic institutions.

As a rising fourth-year in the Joint Degree Programme, in the fall I will be returning to the College of William & Mary, which I haven’t been back to since 2017. Nearly two years later, I’ve changed a lot as an individual under the positive influence of St Andrews. How this new individual—better dressed, more outspoken, and well-travelled—will tackle the campus…time can only tell. I’m beyond excited for my homecoming, but it comes at the cost of a heart-breaking departure. I will be leaving behind some amazing friends in this amazing town next academic year at the same time I return to other great friends in cute Colonial Williamsburg. It’s a system of exchange, of compromises and trade-offs. This for that, Wawa for Tescos, old friends for new ones.

While St Andrews is considered my host university, by spending my last two years here, it has properly become another home for me. I’ve been split apart all over the world; from my hometown back in California to Virginia and the friends I’ve made at William & Mary, and now here. This means I’m lucky enough to have a special place all over the world, a familiar space with friends and fun guaranteed. It also means I’m always leaving something behind: Cinderella’s slipper at midnight, but I find a replacement pair of shoes wherever I go. Returning to William & Mary means I’m recovering a lost item, and I’m excited to see how well it fits after all the time that has passed.

As I prepare for both a departure and a homecoming in the coming months, I want to give some closure on my contributions to this blog. I hope you’ve found these posts interesting! There is a lot for us to learn about the world, so whether you’re a St Andrews student reading these to learn about William & Mary or vice versa (or both if you’re in the JDP with me!) or someone exploring study abroad opportunities, I hope these have helped you discover more about two fantastic universities on different sides of the Atlantic.

Study Abroad Reflections: Jamie Hinch

Exams are over at last! To celebrate, we have another study abroad reflection ready for you. This time, we’re taking you even farther north than St Andrews. Jamie Hinch spent this past semester abroad in Iceland, and he’s ecstatic to tell you all about his experience.

 

“Hi, my name’s Jamie and I’m just coming to the end of my semester abroad in Iceland! Spending 5 months in the world’s most northerly capital city has been a delightfully weird experience; from the nature to the people, it’s by far the quirkiest place I’ve been! This quirkiness is best demonstrated by the daylight hours, which throughout my stay have had me awe-struck. In January I’d have classes ending at half 11, and the sun STILL wasn’t up, through to now in May when it never even gets dark! Noticing these changes day-by-day has been a real highlight, as you realise the effects it has on your emotions, body and behaviour- you feel so connected to the place through the weather and light; it’s something I’ve really embraced and learned to value! The other major highlight was back in March when me and some friends travelled a few hours north to the peninsula of Snæfellsnes to watch the northern lights; it was cloudy for hours and we were beginning to lose heart, but around 9 o’clock suddenly the clouds shifted, and another hour later and the sky was dancing with purple, red and green lights. It was simply magical! Whilst it’s an amazing place to be, I owe a lot to luck in finding a good friend-group in the first week of my arrival, which has allowed me to fully make the most of being here. As my return to the UK beckons, I am
sad to be leaving, but am so excited to be back in St Andrews!

(Also, it was -20 degrees Celsius in the attached picture, hence the snood and hat combination was a must!!)”

Study Abroad Reflection: Charlotte Marquand

With summertime right in sight, we begin to forget just how cold and dark the past winter was. St Andrews is far enough north to be hit by long days of darkness, and it’s cozy spot next to the North Sea guarantees icy winds through the winter months (and maybe a little longer). Now that we’re heading into long summer nights and warm afternoons that don’t require a thick coat to endure a walk around town, we prepare for happier, brighter days. It is these kind of days that let us think about the seasons that have passed.

Charlotte Marquand spent the past year studying abroat at University of Toronto, and though climatized to St Andrews’ weather, she was shocked by the true Canadian winter. In her reflection, she talks about withstanding -23oC, along with other extraordinary experiences. I’m sure she is embracing the promise of sunlight and warmth, and this has allowed her to write this excellent reflection.

I have been lucky enough to spend my third year studying geography at the University of Toronto.  I arrived in Toronto in August 2018 and was both nervous and excited because this was my first time travelling alone and living abroad.  However, I soon settled in and my time here has flown by!  I found it very important to get involved in the many activities at U of T, especially those organised by U of T’s Centre for International Experience (CIE), which helped me to meet other students, both exchange and current U of T students.  I have made some amazing friends whilst here and have plans to meet some of them when they visit the UK!

The St George Campus, where I have been studying, is located right in the city of Toronto and big city life has been a significantly different experience to student life St Andrews.  I live in a student residence very close to campus, roughly a 10-minute walk from the main U of T campus buildings, with an amazing view over the city from the top floor!

Before going on my year abroad, I had been told to expect a larger volume of work than I was used to, but I still underestimated the amount of work I would get.  Almost every week I had multiple assignments to complete, which was admittedly quite overwhelming, especially during my first few weeks in September.  However, I quickly got used to the different style of university teaching and the workload became more manageable.  I took five courses per semester and as U of T is such a large university, there are many courses to choose from and I have loved the variety.  This has been an amazing opportunity to broaden my academic experience.

Outside the classroom, Toronto is a fantastic, multicultural city to live in.  I was shocked at how cold it got here – during January the temperature dropped to minus 23oC with plenty of snow. This was the coldest weather that I have ever experienced, and I think the coldest my face, hands and feet have ever felt! 

Some of my Canadian highlights have included experiencing my first baseball, ice hockey and football games.  At the football I was part of a group of international students asked to hold a huge Canadian flag on the field during the national anthem!  I don’t think you can get any more Canadian than that!  I have also been able to see the city from the vantage point of the CN Tower, visit Toronto Islands, Niagara Falls and Dundas Peak, as well as taking advantage of the many museums and festivals that happen in the city, including the Toronto International Film Festival, Nuit Blanche and of course the Christmas market!  At the end of my second semester and exams, I am heading to Calgary to explore Banff National Park.

I would highly recommend studying abroad to anyone interested.  It is challenging at times, but I have certainly benefited hugely from my time abroad and will be returning home more experienced, independent and confident than before.  The work has been very interesting and well taught.  I have had a fantastic time in Toronto; I have been encouraged to be braver and more adventurous whilst making some unforgettable memories and the whole experience has further fuelled my desire to travel even more in the future!”

Study Abroad Reflections: Joséphine Groslambert

While St Andrews’ students are powering through revision and exams in these final weeks of the academic year, some of our partner universities are already done. One of these universities is UC Berkeley, which ends tomorrow on May 17th. Part of the University of California system, it is the only one on a semester system like ourselves, but they still manage to finish just a bit earlier than St Andrews.

All wrapped with her exams, Joséphine Groslambert has found the time to sum up her terrific experience in California. As someone from California, her blurb made me wistful for home, but I’m glad students from all over the world, especially those from St Andrews, have a chance to explore the massive state and all its wonders. Read more to find out just how much Joséphine has learned and discovered, both academically and socially. 

“When asked to describe what I have enjoyed about my study abroad year I don’t really know where to begin. This past year has been so fulfilling academically and socially.

One thing I will take back with me is the beauty of California, a place where vibrant cities compete with magnificent national parks. I tried to explore this beautiful state: I went camping in Yosemite, observed whales off the coast of Santa Cruz, wandered in San Francisco, hiked around the Bay Area and spent Thanksgiving in Lake Tahoe. I also joined the UC Berkeley climbing club, which enabled me to discover a new sport and meet a lot of people.

Academically, studying molecular biology at Berkeley has been a challenging but exceptionally stimulating experience.  I am being taught by professors who are leaders in their fields of research, attending seminars on hot topics in biology, not to mention sharing the same campus as eight Nobel laureates. This spring semester, I started working in an immunology laboratory, where I study a novel cellular defence mechanism against viral infection and tumour progressionBeing part of a research team that studies fascinating topics such as immunotherapy has been a highlight of my year and reinforced my will to pursue a career in biological research.

After a long day of studying and working in the laboratory, I go home to a house of sixty friends. Choosing to live in a coop was the best decision I made on my study abroad year. Being a coop resident at Berkeley is a unique experience, it made me fall into a community of accepting, inspiring and supportive friends. From cooking dinner for sixty people, to watching the sunset over San Francisco from our roof top, to organizing impromptu hiking trips and attending wine and cheese parties, my coop supplied me with lifelong memories and friendships.

My study abroad year is now coming to an end and a bittersweet feeling fills me as I write these words. The Californian sunshine, the views on San Francisco, and most importantly, the wonderful people I met will be truly missed.”  

Study Abroad Reflections: Clare Grist

As we approach the end of the academic year, many students grow sentimental and begin to reflect on all their experiences of the past term, whether they be successes or some shortcomings. We can understand the challenges and wonders of pursuing a degree with the University of St Andrews, but what only some select students can detail for us is the experience of studying abroad. The Collaborations & Study Abroad Office works hard to send impressive and inquisitve students to universities all over the world throughout the year, and now that many of our students are reaching the end of their exchanges, we asked them to reflect on their semester or year abroad. These students have immersed themselves in new social and educational cultures, and as you read their stories, you will understand how much study abroad helps an individual grow and learn more than they could staying at one university. Today’s feature is Clare Grist, a third-year studying Maths and Spanish at Universidad de Montevideo in Uruguay!

“I’ve been in Montevideo now for 9 weeks and I am loving it! At the Universidad de Montevideo, I am taking classes in cinema, history of Uruguay, literature and Spanish language and writing, all of which I thoroughly enjoy. Learning about the history of Uruguay is very interesting and something I would not be able to study at St Andrews. The professors are also very welcoming and understanding of the fact that Spanish was not our native language and are willing to help us out with whatever we may need.

 

The university has a great buddy programme so I arrived already knowing one Uruguayan and everyone from the group of international students is incredibly friendly and welcoming, including 3 other students from St. Andrews. I very quickly felt settled and comfortable. Once a week, we have a social volleyball club with the international group and some Uruguayans which is always a lot of fun!

 

One thing that I have had trouble adjusting to is the food! Uruguayan cuisine is very meat-heavy and very salty and lacking in spice, something that I miss a lot from home! Last week, the international students got to participate in a Uruguayan cooking course where we made chivitos, a traditional Uruguayan sandwich, which was absolutely delicious. I’m also getting used to the Uruguayan obsession with dulce de leche, a sweet caramely confection that they add to EVERYTHING!

 

My timetable here isn’t too intense which has given me the opportunity to explore some of Uruguay. Although it is by no means easy, the workload is light enough that I felt I could enjoy my time abroad and plan weekend trips away. We’ve had the chance to visit Punta del Este and Cabo Polonio, beautiful seaside towns nearby and also, during Spring Break, we travelled to Rio de Janeiro and Ilha Grande in Brazil which was loads of fun! Because my semester started in March, I also had the opportunity to travel before I arrived in Uruguay and got to visit Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Colombia!

 

My spoken Spanish has improved drastically and, although I initially had fears about understanding the Uruguayan accent, I’ve managed to get my head around it by now. Living with a Uruguayan family has definitely helped with my confidence when it comes to speaking.

 

I’ve had such a great time here already and I could not recommend study abroad highly enough!”

 

 

 

Spring Break with WaMStAs

And that’s the last holiday of the school year wrapped up! Spring break extends through the final two weeks of March, which brings us right into April and back into deadlines. As we enter the last gruelling haul towards exams, I’m sure many students will be looking back on their holidays wistfully (I know I will). I might even start right now.

Being a part of the BA International Honours programme, I’m lucky enough to divide my undergraduate years between two impressive universities in two different countries. But instead of letting myself get comfortable in one place, I decided to use spring break to explore beyond this little island in the North Sea.

However, before I did that, I ventured to the Isle of Arran the weekend leading into our two weeks off. My Scottish family members have allowed me to visit this wee isle multiple times within the past two years, and each visit leaves me more enamoured than before. Typical island lifestyle commences here, where the pace of life slows down so we can take in a deep breath and relax. To help this is the isle’s stunning views. Just sailing in on the ferry, you can see the landscape sprawl out before you. It is a soothing place, even when you’re celebrating a birthday like I was with my Scottish family.

I changed that island slowness down for a full-speed city holiday by flying out to Prague, Czech Republic for the first week of spring break. Still in high school, joining Pinterest to compile all my dream travel destinations into one place, I remember seeing pictures of the Astronomical Clock and being enchanted by it. When I pinned it to my now abandoned travel board, I never would’ve guessed that I’d find my way in front of it in only a few years later.

The Astronomical Clock, though the delight of my high school self, was just a small feature of a wonderful holiday. Seated among the other visual delights of the Old Town Square, the clock leads to other great structures and great street vendors. I got a traditional Czech dessert coated in chocolate (a Trdelnik) along with some hot wine and wandered the streets at night with my friend. The city is even more beautiful at night, with dim streetlamps and moonlight highlighting the historic wonder of the capital.

While in Prague, I met up with my university friend from the Czech Republic, and he gave us a local’s tour of the city. This included popping into niche cafes and tasty restaurants and mastering the metro on the first try. We also caught things we had missed before, such as the floating statue of Sigmund Freud that hangs perilously over a narrow street leading towards the Old Town. While it’s always nice wandering as a tourist in a new place, having a personal tour with a friend shows you sides to the city you might not have seen before.

This is another outstanding feature of the programme: meeting people from all over the world. St Andrews is a global university, attracting an international student body. It’s almost impossible to make friends exclusively within your nationality, and I think this is one of the best parts of being a St Andrews student. And when you’re a part of the Joint Degree Programme, you make double the number of friends who can show you a glimpse into a home you might’ve never known before.

The second week, I changed environments for something a little more relaxing. While Malaga is a city in its own right, it moves slower than Prague. It might have something to do with the sun, which was out every day we were there. I even got a sunburn! Clearly, my skin had missed the constant sun exposure I got from growing up in California. We spent a lot of time on the beach, whether laying out on towels or sitting at a chiringuito with a litre of sangria and tapas (hmm maybe that’s why Malaga feels so laid-back). Though I was sad to leave behind a sun whose heat you could actually feel, I’m happy to be back into one of my many homes around the world: St Andrews.

Other WaMStAs also used the break to venture near and far. Isabel Cullinane (3rd year, English) went on the hunt for sun and found herself in Athens, Greece. Between midday drinks on terrace bars and exploring ancient wonders like the Pantheon, she combined an explorer’s holiday with the relaxing recovery period all students deserve after the hard work they put into their coursework. Check out some of her incredible photos!

Meanwhile, Katlyn Ma (1st year, IR) travelled all the way to Hong Kong to visit family and enjoy the fast-paced lifestyle and amazing food of the city. She made sure to give a glimpse for us who dream of visiting the city, such as myself. I’m practically salivating on my keyboard looking at all this delicious food.

As you can see, WaMStAs find ways to keep on exploring. Though part of an exclusive academic group that divides itself between two universities, we are driven to discover more of the world than Williamsburg, St Andrews, or our own homes. Unsatisfied with complacency, we travel close and far to find our newest adventure. The program is perfect for natural explorers, and it’ll be great to see where these students go beyond in future years!

 

 

 

Spring in St Andrews

Spring is in the air…or so we hope. While St Andrews has seen worse winters (last year’s snow storm is still fresh in the town’s memory), it’s still been a cold and dark couple of months. While the university retains its verve and vivacity throughout this time of year in thanks to its lively student body, there’s no denying that students, staff and townies are all looking forward to longer and slightly warmer days. Study abroad students should use the changing seasons to explore more of St Andrews during their final semester with us! As the wind loses its bite (a bit) and the sun stays in the sky for longer, you’ll be able to find the perfect opportunity to explore.

Though spring isn’t officially here until March 20, to prepare you for the change in season, here is a guide on things to try out around St Andrews in the springtime.

 

Fife Coastal Path

A 117-mile stretch, the Fife Coastal Path goes from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Tay. While there is no expectation for you to walk this massive spread, popping onto the trail from St Andrews is all too easy and you can choose how long your journey will be. Whether 2 miles or 2 hours, your adventure will be rewarding! Going south, you wind through beautiful scenery with visual access to Scotland’s eastern coastline. It’s truly stunning and gives you an opportunity to physically step away from the stress of schoolwork by leaving St Andrews behind you. So if you ever have a Sunday morning to explore, you can end your early morning walk with a scone and tea. Or if it’s an afternoon walk, you can pop into a pub for a pint to reward yourself for your excursion!

 

West Sands and Jigger Inn

Going along with the theme of walking through nature (and casual drinks!), another springtime opportunity is exploring West Sands. Though located closer to the tourist/golfer side of St Andrews, this is a lot quicker of a walk compared to the Fife Coastal Path, so if you want a small-scale activity, this is a perfect option! Walk along the sands and watch the water crash on the shore bordering the Old Course; you might even cross paths with friendly dogs, which always makes for a good day. Again, you can top off this walk with a peek into the Jigger Inn, a wee restaurant on the Old Course itself. Authentically Scottish, with a comfortable design and a great location, it’s a great place to drop in for a glass of wine and some starters. Bring your friends to beat the Old Course prices! [me on the right enjoying a sunny day at the Jigger Inn]

 

Travel—Abroad OR Domestic

What comes in hand with the season change is a school holiday. After a chaotic season of deadlines, students are more than ready to take a break from school. However, sometimes a break means traveling around the country or going to a different one entirely. With two weeks off for the spring holidays, most St Andrews students fit in some kind of journey, whether that be to the Highlands or to the Alps. It’s the perfect time duration to balance proper, mindless relaxation with fun exploration.

Thanks to Scotland’s close proximity to the rest of Europe, you can find last minute deals to a handful of different countries so check out Skyscanner. Or if you don’t want to leave the island, you can keep your journey beyond St Andrews simple. Whether going to metropolitan Glasgow or Edinburgh or somewhere more quaint like Fort Williams or the Isle of Arran, there are so many options for domestic travel if that’s what you prefer (or what your budget prefers). [me on the left on a quick weekend trip to Edinburgh]

 

These are just a handful of ideas to make the most of your final couple months with the University of St Andrews. The longer daylight hours and less bitter chill make for fun exploring, so let’s all hope for a sunny spring time!

Deadlines and Mental Health Resources

After blazing through the first few weeks of the semester, now is the time of year where it seems like it’s deadline season every week until revision. The library is packed, teetering around near-full capacity during the day as students dedicate hours to researching, writing, and editing their essays. There is a sense of community in stress, with students acting as each other’s support systems since we all understand the difficulties of juggling tutorial work, weekly readings, and a 2500 word paper. However, stress shouldn’t be consuming us throughout this period of the semester. It’s important we remember our own mental health and stability at this time, even when we are putting in the most to turn out a paper worthy of the mark we want.

Deadline season might be the hardest on the university’s study abroad students, who are transitioning not only to a new social setting but to a new academic system too. As they plunge head-first into deadlines, the pressures of being away from home universities and familiar friends might build on top of general academic stress. These combined factors may lead to students being overwhelmed and upset, risking their wellbeing and mental health.

It’s important to remember that you shouldn’t put off seeking help. There is no reason to justify poor mental health as part of the student experience, because that’s not what the university is promoting.

The university webpage says ‘About one in four of us will suffer from some difficulty with our mental health in any one year’. This means you’re not alone—far from it. So you shouldn’t feel isolated from the world, especially when times get hard. You have a St Andrews community for you here, and if that doesn’t mean your friends, then the university itself has a staff ready to help you onto your feet.

The ASC (Advice and Support Centre) is your best resource to start with. They help with a variety of issues students face in their time here, along with having specialities in wellbeing, counselling, and mental health resources. You can check out the ASC in person, as it’s conveniently located on North Street right between the library and Old Union Café, or you can look for the specific resource you need on their webpage. It’s good to note that you can book online for a meeting with a Wellbeing Adviser.

Their webpage has helpful information to lead you to the right resources, so check out some of your options—and don’t be afraid to seek help! You’re here to learn, that is true, but you’re also here to thrive, and if your wellbeing is at risk, the university will do the most to make sure you’re provided the proper assistance and support, so reach out, no matter what year you are or whether you’re a full-time student or one of our exchange students. St Andrews is your bubble, so make it feel safe.

Check out some of these links for more information/resources

Email ASC

Wellbeing, Counselling and Mental Health Info

Peer Support Info

 

 

St Andrews vs William and Mary: Cafes

A university campus can hardly exist without a café or two or ten. Whether your liquid fuel is a black Americano or a spiced chai latte or whatever concoction you pressure baristas with, students and staff rely on caffeine to get them through the day. That hardly changes whatever campus you set foot on, but to tie St Andrews back to William & Mary in typical Joint Degree fashion, we have a compare and contrast of the most popular locations to find your caffeine fix to survive the term at the respective universities.

Both universities have cafés incorporated into their libraries. Swem has the spot lovingly endeared as Swemromas (Swem+Aromas, basic linguistic math) while St Andrews’ library has Café Edge. These two are quite different hotspots for students but serve the same purpose. Where Café Edge is a self-service spot, with a machine pumping out satisfying drinks, Swemromas is a more traditional-style café with baristas taking your order and running it down the line. Both cater to mentally exhausted students, stimulating them so they can finish that 40-page reading or 4000-word essay. Though packed into the front of the library, they both are vital places on campus. What makes Café Edge especially standout across the board of St Andrews’ cafes is their prices. While there was a jump this past year, prices are still remarkably low for the town; an Americano is £1.10 and a cappuccino is £1.30. You even get a price reduction if you bring your reusable cup! It’s definitely one of the cheapest places in town to snag a coffee.

Another university affiliated coffee-shop at St Andrews is Rector’s. With its large windows, it’s the perfect place to sit on a sunny day. Conversely, it’s a great refuge whenever the weather takes a turn (as it often does) and can be quite serene when covered in raindrops. Additionally, I think they have the best chai lattes in town, but this is a personal opinion, of course. [Inside of Rector’s pictured on the right].

However, what is a universal truth of university spaces is the presence of Starbucks. An omnipresent brand in university settings, it’s no surprise there is a Starbucks local to St Andrews and William & Mary. William & Mary’s version of the chain is inside the Integrated Science Center (ISC), a modern building with a sleek design. ISC is a great study spot, further enhanced by its accessibility to a coffee-shop. St Andrews’ Starbucks is along Market Street, which makes it feel a little more detached from the university hub. Students can still be found studying here with the familiar Starbucks cups in reach, but, as an insider’s confession, Starbucks is the most overrated café accessible in St Andrews. As this post reveals, there a handful of other cafes to try out, many of which are unique to St Andrews!

To combat the norm of Starbucks, William & Mary presents an unconventional option for coffee breaks. Wawa is another chain, but instead of specializing in coffee, it’s a convenience store and gas station. Right by campus, Williamsburg’s local Wawa is a pilgrimage site for most students. With its 24/7 service, it attracts students at all hours for whatever they’re craving. What I would often come for is their coffee, which is both cheap and delicious. Just as important, though, is Wawa’s atmosphere and the sense of community it forges between its compact walls and aisles. [Inside of Wawa pictured on the left].

Beyond these, the options for cafes on or close to campus for William & Mary students dwindles. Meanwhile, St Andrews has a handful of other options; there’s the wee Old Union Café, comfortably situated between the library and St Salvator’s Quad; or Pret a Manger, another chain but with better coffee and prices than Starbucks; and we can’t forget about the chic and cozy Taste up on North Street, with its limited seating but trendy vibes. And there’s even more!

As such, it appears that St Andrews provides a lot more options to students, but that comes from the fact the university is incorporated into the town itself. These places are accessible not only to students but locals and tourists as well, welcoming them with the promise of a warm cuppa after walking the cobblestone streets in whatever temperate weather is thrown in their face. Historic Colonial Williamsburg, which borders William & Mary’s campus can offer more options to students, and if one has access to transportation to New Town, there is another wave of coffee-shops for students to pick from. It’s all about proximity and accessibility for the sake of students who may be pressed with their timetables and finances.

All in all though, both universities are more than sufficiently sourced in caffeine production. It might be part of the reason why their students are so productive and successful in their academics and extra-curriculars

 

 

You can find details of all university-affiliated cafes (for St Andrews) through St Andrews’ webpage

St Andrews vs William and Mary: Valentine’s Day Edition

With Valentine’s Day coming up, it seems like the proper time to address the romantic myths and legacies of both the University of St Andrews and the College of William & Mary.  Connected through academic and intellectual exchange, the universities offer a lot of interchangeable opportunities. However, it’s also fun highlighting what makes these universities so different (and what dual experiences are available to those who study abroad at either institution!).

A common lore around William & Mary revolves around a small bridge running over the Crim Dell, dutifully called the Crim Dell Bridge. Beautiful and scenic, it offers a great viewpoint and shortcut for students meandering between campuses. But with that said, you will rarely see anyone actually walk across the bridge. [Crim Dell pictured right].

The reason for this is found through collegiate mythos. The legend goes that if you cross the Crim Dell Bridge with your partner and kiss, you two will end up together forever. In the off-chance this myth is busted and you two split up, the ex must be pushed into the Crim Dell to ward off the curse of being single forever. Likewise, if a student walks across alone, they are faced with a similar curse: being alone forever. A lot of your future love life seems to ride on a quick walk across a bridge, but it’s one of William & Mary’s best-known myths.

Despite its mythic power over love, the Bridge gains sentimental power upon graduation time. You’ll be sure to find me walking across the Bridge with the lifelong friends I’ve made at the university in the springtime of next year.

Meanwhile, across an ocean, the University of St Andrews has a different kind of love story. It’s not so much mythic as it is royal. Of course one can hardly talk to their peers about St Andrews without somehow circulating the well-known fact that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met here in their uni days. The fact is apparent across the town itself. With Northpoint Café hoisting a banner at its window that announces WHERE KATE MET WILLS, the royal pair is commercialized as another formidable feature of the university and the town. [Northpoint Cafe pictured left].

The tiny coffee-shop Taste, also on North Street, is a foil to Northpoint, not only in size, but also in its publicizing of the Kate and Wills match. There is no banner in the window. Instead, it is a sticky note on the wall behind the register, which reads: WHERE KATE DUMPED WILLS. This attests more to the royal couple and their rockier days but is a part of their romance (and its still-existing presence on university grounds) nonetheless. I’ve even been stopped by a tourist, who asked for directions to the café that the royal couple went on their first date. People include the royal couple’s romance trail while on their holiday to St Andrews!

So while few dare to venture across the Crim Dell Bridge, many attempt to follow the footsteps of the royal couple and their romance over the course of their university years. Through the lens of romance, inspired by the Valentine’s season, we can inspect some differences between two incredible universities. University of St Andrews possesses a legacy of royal love while William & Mary boasts the power of eternal promises and curses on the matters of love through a beautiful bridge. Either way, love is in the air and on campus grounds, so have a Happy Valentine’s Day, no matter how you spend it and with who!