Abroad at The University of St. Andrews in Scotland
By Cristal Steuer
“I chose Scotland for its strong academics and for the local culture. The University of St. Andrews is one of the top schools in the U.K., and it doesn’t hurt that it is located next to one of the oldest and most well known golf courses in the world, St. Andrews Links,” explains Nathan Nault, a junior at the College of the Holy Cross and an avid golfer, who is spending the year studying abroad in Scotland.
Nault, who set up his trip through the study abroad office at the College, says he also chose Scotland because of the architecture and landscape. St. Andrews is beautiful and the university is very integrated into the town reports Nault. “There are only four major streets, and there are shops and restaurants everywhere,” he shares. “The streets are cobblestone, and occasionally someone is playing the bagpipes or accordion on the street corners.”
Overall, the adjustment was pretty easy: “Everyone speaks English, even if it is hard to understand at some points,” he says. “It is different from Holy Cross in that I have to walk much further to get to my destinations. Town is about a quarter to a half a mile from my dorm.” But Nault enjoys the walk because the surroundings are unbelievable. “There’s all of the old architecture, the golf course, the ocean. It’s very picturesque.”
Some say the way of life in Scotland is a lot more relaxed, and Nault finds some truth to that: “In some ways it is. I still tend to find myself rushing around every now and then to get things done. I guess no matter what country you’re in, you can’t avoid stress,” he adds.
Nault says the food in Scotland isn’t much different from American food. “We tend to have potatoes at every meal, and fish and chips are much more common, but St. Andrews isn’t in a bubble, so we still have things like Coke and Subway.”
As far as Scottish delicacies: “I had the opportunity to try haggis during orientation week. It’s basically just a form of sausage, so if you ignore the fact that it is a sheep’s stomach that you are eating, it isn’t bad at all.”
Since the drinking age is 18 in Scotland, going to bars is an accepted form of social interaction for college students. “Most people tend to be responsible about it,” he says.
A golfer for ten years, Nault knew that he would have access to some of the most famous courses in the world. “Second only to academics, it was one of the top reasons that I chose St. Andrews,” he reiterates. “Golf holds a much different place in Scottish culture than it does in America. Not to mention, it is a great way to meet some of the locals as well as other students.”
Nault, an anthropology major with an Asian Studies concentration, is taking a history class and an anthropology class while overseas, and having only two classes leaves him plenty of time to really experience the culture. He already has plans to tour the Scottish Highlands, London, Paris, and Stockholm, and hopes to visit Greece, Rome, and Amsterdam.
What does he miss the most about the U.S.? “Other than my mother, I miss my friends the most,” he shares. “I know that while I’m here, they are continuing their lives in the U.S. So much can happen over the course of a year, I’m sure I’ll be out of the loop when I get back.”
While in Scotland, Nault is blogging for the Holy Cross Web site. Check out his latest entry: