On a blustery Scottish day, I took the train from Edinburgh to St. Andrews to have a wee visit with my former advisee and 2015 grad, Leif. The train ride along the coast was beautiful and the hour long journey flew by. I had a little chuckle when the voice came over the speakers to remind people repeatedly to “Mind the gap when alighting from the train”, a word that I can’t imagine using in Victoria.
Leif is studying math and philosophy in 4 year degree program at the University of St. Andrews, a university I have toured and written about in previous years. Given that he only takes three courses at a time (standard fare for many UK uni programs), he feels that academic life, so far, is pretty easy compared to his Grade 12 academic load. He has the chance this year and next to take an elective and he has chosen management for this term, and statistics for next, but he enjoys the philosophy course the most.
He is on the St. Andrews golf team and trains 2-3 times a week and plays most weekends against other universities. He has had the chance to play the Old Course and many others (there are 7 near St. Andrews) having paid only £200 for a year long student membership. No green fees are required at any of them with that membership, but apparently you have to be hearty and a really strong golfer to endure the windy and wet weather. He might join the surf club next: there are some good waves in the waters right there and his wetsuit is hanging in his closet. Leif seems to have identified the work ethic needed both to be successful in his courses and really enjoy his time.
Leif is living in the halls of residence with many other international students (DRA) and it is a 15 minute bike ride from town. He has five flatmates (it’s the only word that fits in this context!) and a kitchen, with only breakfast and dinner provided in the dining hall. He says he now appreciates Brown Hall after eating in their dining hall where the portions and options are limited. He is already planning on moving into a flat in town next year with some friends. The proximity to all of Europe and London, where he has some family, is a bonus he has already taken advantage of this fall and plans to do more of in the future.
When Leif and I emerged from the restaurant, it was pouring with rain so we quickly said our goodbyes and he rode off on his bike to his philosophy class tutorial. It is always great to see a former student settled into a new environment.