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Eight Things I’ve Learned During My First Year of Uni.

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at St. Andrews chapter.

I don’t think I’d change much about this year ,but if I were to give this younger version of myself an outline of the things we’ve learned it would look something like this.


I would tell her, firstly, about Freshers Week.

Being an American I didn’t have a concept of what Freshers week was or how it was supposed to be, which I think is the best strategy. Don’t put pressure on how your Freshers Week is supposed to go. Go to things that sound interesting, even if you don’t have anyone to go with. Meet lots of people, so many people there’s no way you’ll remember them all, even after being sober. But remember you probably will not meet your best friends. Go to stuff anyway. Go to the Union, go to the pub crawls, go to the garden party. Go with people even if you’re not sure you’ll be best friends. Not everyone has to be your best friend or significant other. Uni is a great time to build and explore all kinds of friendships. You’ll likely meet people through other people too, and who knows. For us, the person we met through someone else through someone else has become so wonderfully essential. 


We might have a chat about alcohol (especially in the university setting).

At the Union, although a gin and tonic is delicious, get the Pablo. It is the most alcohol for the cheapest price so you have to buy less. The blue one is my favourite. Pre before you go out—it’s the most cost effective way to go out as a student, but there is such a thing as preing too hard. Mixing something with vodka or gin usually meant a much smaller hangover for me, if any hangover at all, compared to the results of a night spent on cider. But, if you’re in a pub, cider or beer is usually the cheapest. Especially if you’re sitting in Molly’s, as you will a lot. However, the best shot to buy (especially at the Union) is Tequila – it goes salt, then the Tequila, then the lime. My favourite quote of the semester has to be one we saw in Edinburgh—be the Tequila, not the lime. Be chased. Don’t chase someone else. 


You are about to be exposed to a whole range of types of relationships you’ve never seen before.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to have sex, to find a girlfriend or boyfriend, or to shag the most people. Don’t feel pressure to find certain relationships or to push people to be certain things for you. So many types of relationships these days feel cut out of a recipe book, but the people you will meet are all unique shaped and can’t fit into a premade mold. Trust your gut about people, but also trust the opinion of others. Your gut might be wrong. People will reveal themselves to you in stages as you get to know them. Be patient and observant. The person who you go out with during the first week doesn’t have to be the person you go out with in November. You will lose some friends. Accept that you love people and want them to eat well but just not at your table. Especially if they make you unhappy. You have to be able to adapt. Not everyone can and will stay stuck in the mindset formed by what they’re used to. Learn to recognise these people.


Try everything.

Don’t be afraid to venture off on your own. Don’t wait for someone else to do things you’re interested in, and do all sorts of things. Go to all kinds of things. Plays, give-it-a-gos, museums, etc. Heck, we went to church a few times and we’re not even religious. Go to balls and events but don’t feel like you have to go to all. Not only is that really expensive, but I think it’s also impossible to have something to wear for everything and still have room to sleep in your dorm room. Applying for positions, sending interest emails, and running in AGMs can very rarely hurt anything. Do it just to see.


Take care of yourself. Like, for real.

Sit in the sun whenever you can, and go for walks. The Lady Braes walk looks beautiful in every season, and if you walk it long enough you’ll reach Craigtoun County Park (a great Sunday morning adventure). Go on runs too, but not if you’re ill. Give your body a rest. It’s okay to let yourself recover and to be gentle with your body. The sun will start to set at 3pm before you know it so always dress warmer than you anticipate. West Sands is great for going on walks, swims, and runs. East Sands has the best sea pottery, and Castle Sands has the best sea glass. Always take a tote bag to fill with you and a hair clip for the wind, and check if it’s low tide before you leave. Fill your wine bottles from special nights with your sea glass and save the corks. Journal. Even if it’s once a week. Take a lot of photos, even if it feels a little embarrassing at the moment. Make a shared album with your friend group, which can easily be done in the Photo app on your iPhone. Eat well, but don’t see desserts as a “reward”. Buy yourself a chocolate bar just because they make you happy. Read. Do you tutorial readings, go to your lectures, but also read a book you’re interested in. Call your mom. Call your grandma. Send a letter to your sister. Post that picture you like on Instagram.


Take care of your finances.

For food, don’t underestimate the meal deal. It’s so gentle on the wallet and at Tesco there’s lots of healthy options for each part. Get rewards cards, especially for Tesco and Boots. Scan them every time, not just when you’d get a deal. Although something from Big Boss or Sharmwa might seem perfect when you’re leaving the Vic or the Union, keep food at home. You’ll spend less and will feel better in the morning. Save money, even if it’s a little every week, to buy yourself something special. Go to brunch—we came to love Northpoint Cafe. Nando’s for Sunday dinner on occasion is almost never a bad idea. Buy a pot—we went way too long without one.


St Andrews is unique, which means it does have a few growing pains. Don’t let the pressure get to you.

Don’t put pressure on Raisin. Raisin will be fun but don’t feel like it has to be the best day of your year. Don’t be afraid either. Your “parents” want to look after you and for you to have a good time. Do the pier walk at least once, and if it’s the first week desperately fight to be at the front of the queue—otherwise you might be standing there for hours. (We did). Swim in the sea at least once. The gossip mill in St Andrews is something else. It’s a university and a small town, which coupled together mean the creation of a new beast. People will gossip about you, usually something untrue. That’s okay. It’s okay if it bothers you, but also get a laugh out of it. Don’t let gossip affect your friendships.


You’re literally so okay, and you’re going to be so okay.

Most of all, know you’ll be just fine. Not every day will be wonderful, and you’ll go through difficult things. Take everything as a learning opportunity and move forward. There really is no use regretting things you can’t change. Be content with where you are, don’t rush through things. Things will come to you when you’re ready and for some things, you just won’t be ready at the same time as everyone else. That’s okay—it’s all so completely okay. You’re about to have such a wonderful time. Just you wait.

Riley Raab

St. Andrews '26

Hey! My name is Riley and I am a Texan transplant studying English and Management at the University of St Andrews as a first year. I am passionate about European chocolate, weighted blankets, spending time outside, reading, and writing.