Labels are interesting. Plop one on a person, and you think you’ve got the basic lay of the land. Here at St. Andrews, I am known as a JSA, or a Junior Studying Abroad. Sounds like something from Area 51, but this acronym has actually paved my path as a study abroad student. If I do something foolish, I shrug and state, “Sorry, JSA here.”
And let me assure you, there are plenty of opportunities for this kind of behavior. Exhibit A: the dining halls.
Back home, there are six dining halls, and you can chomp your way through any one that you want, with very little time constraints. Here, you can not eat at any other hall and there is a fifteen-minute window when the meal is served. It’s all very civilized. Everyone queues (translation: lines) up at the dining hall doors. The doors open precisely at their appointed time, and we patiently wait in queue (verb and noun? That’s just fancy) for our meal. There are usually two entrée choices to choose between and two side options. In addition, you can have a fruit plate and a dessert, or a cracker plate and dessert, but NOT a fruit and cracker plate.
This is where the tendency for idiotic behavior comes into play. I mean, let’s be honest. There is nothing better than crackers, cheese, and fruit. It’s the perfect combination. But here, it is just not done. The bell will ring for second, the boys will stampede in an orderly fashion, and then the kitchen lights turn off to signify the end of meal. When we are finished, we queue up again to return our trays and separate our plates, excess food, trash, and cutlery into color-coded baskets. I know there are different rules for different halls, but the fact remains: there are strange regulations that govern this place. So, despite the seemingly simplicity of the process, I am constantly slipping up and blaming it on my status as a JSA. Put your tray in the wrong spot? JSA. Took too many tea bags for later? JSA.
That’s the key, ladies. Get yelled at for trying to take the crackers and the fruit, blame it on America.
Almost to make up for the fruit-cracker dispute, St. Andrews has provided “uni” (translation: college) students with a great excuse for rampant laziness: a maid.
Every morning, a maid sweeps into your room to empty the bin of rubbish (take out the trash) and clean the sink. On my first morning, I was torn from my jet-lagged sleep when Sam, our floor’s maid, burst in with a bang, chirped a blast of cheery chatter in a Scottish accent, and whisked out of my room. She left behind a confused and rather perturbed JSA that morning. I have now learned that if I don’t want a wake-up call at 9:15 in the morning, I should have my bin waiting outside my door for good ol’ Sammie.
Not only does this maid throw away your empty wine bottles and pizza boxes, she also “hoovers” (vacuums) once a week and cleans the kitchen and bathrooms every day. On top of this, they wash our bed linens, like our mothers used to do when we were kids. It’s pretty fantastic. I can tell that I am becoming spoiled. When I return to the States, I will most likely pay my roommate in Nutella to take out my trash and vacuum.
So, moral of the story is: use the JSA label like a player uses women, and don’t forget to stick your bin of rubbish outside your door. Trust me, you’ll thank me when you sleep in past the fifteen-minute window for breakfast.