Marissa in Britain

Marissa is a junior University and Mustang Scholar from Dallas majoring in international studies and anthropology in Dedman College. Through the SMU-in-Britain program, she is spending the academic year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, studying international relations and modern history.

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Fresher’s Week

100_2208.JPGA fresher, as you can already figure out, is the British equivalent to a Fish, a.k.a. freshman. Fresher’s Week is therefore considered freshman orientation. Well – something like that. It’s basically a week filled of parties, pub-crawls, initiations, parties on the beach, Scottish dancing and the BOP. Oh, and it also includes advising and matriculation.

Everyone gets involved in Fresher’s Week, including upperclassmen. It is St. Andrews’ way of welcoming all the new students and introducing them to the old traditions of the community. I say St. Andrews because the university and the town itself are very much integrated. St. Andrews is the ultimate college town, but not in the way we have in the States – this isn’t College Station. St. Andrews might be the home of golf, but any of the locals here will tell you that it is the university that brings life to this small coastal setting.

University Hall, My Home Away From Home

100_2190.JPGUni Hall, as it is referred to, was first opened in 1896 as the first residence hall for women. Now it is a co-ed residence made up of three wings. Wardlaw is the all female wing and is referred to as “the castle” for its very unique architecture. Old Wind is the original building and looks like one of those old British boarding schools you see in movies. It has a large wooden staircase and an oak-paneled common room.

IMG_0198.JPGLumsden is where I live. It is the most modern of the three wings, built in 1962. It houses the dining room, which looks like a modern version of the great hall in Harry Potter. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but it’s pretty close, and I don’t know how else I can explain it.

A similarity between American and Scottish dorm life: some people are also just as careless here and burn popcorn in the kitchen and make the fire alarm go off at three in the morning. That was not fun at all.

Ceilidh

A ceilidh is traditional Scottish dancing. These are those village and country dances you see in the movies. Traditionalists arrive at a ceilidh (pronounced caylee) wearing their kilts and Scottish attire. Then you grab a partner or two, and start dancing. The dances are very fast paced, but simple to learn. I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but you do get exhausted after two dances.

100_2171-sm.jpg The BOP

There are no clubs in St. Andrews (remember, small town). There are some pubs/bars that play good dance music, but ultimately no clubs. The BOP is the closest thing you can get to a club. It is a venue in the student association building (The Union) in which every Friday night people gather for dancing and cheap drinks. A variety of DJs make for a different BOP every Friday. The basic routine is that you dress up in your club attire that night, head out pub hopping with a group of friends, and then around 11 o’clock you all go BOPping.

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