“Where are you going to college next year?”
This question has been posed to me at least 5,000 times between September and May of my senior year. For the first few months, hearing this made me squirm with anxiety when I was forced to respond with a generic, “Oh, I’m not quite sure yet.” I thought maybe once I figured out a legitimate answer, people’s curiosity would be satisfied. However, as it turns out when you respond with “The University of St. Andrews,” you quickly become entangled in a game of 20 questions.
So for those of you who haven’t yet recieved the memo, I’ve compiled a FAQ that answers the most common questions I’ve been asked over the past months.
. . .
Q: Where is St. Andrews?
A: It’s located in St. Andrews, Scotland on the coast of the North Sea.
Q: So you’re leaving the country for college? I didn’t know you could do that.
A: I didn’t know you could either until a few months ago when my Scottish exchange student was considering applying to Ohio State. I looked at what universities were in Scotland and discovered that I could get a standard four-year-degree overseas just like I would at any U.S. school. I won’t be the first UA student to head across the pond. Both Leah Johnston (class of 2009) and Abe Lucey (class of 2010) also chose to attend St. Andrews. It’s become common enough that a representative from the school is actually scheduled to come to UAHS in September.
Q: How did you even apply for an international school?
A: Applying couldn’t have been easier. St. Andrews was actually on the Common Application. The only extra thing I needed to do was complete a supplemental essay and enter my passport number.
Q: Isn’t that where England’s royal couple Will and Kate met?
A: Yes, they’re probably the two most famous recent graduates. But no, I can’t say I picked this school with any intention of marrying a Duke.
Q: Is this the same St. Andrews as the golf course?
A: Yeah it is. St. Andrews is the site of the celebrated “Old Course.” I don’t actually play golf, but I have a slew of family members who are currently planning to “visit me” as soon as they get their golf handicap at an acceptable level.
Q: How are you getting all your stuff over there?
A: Good question I have no clue how to go about packing a semester’s worth of stuff into a suitcase, carry-on, and a personal item—but I’m open to suggestions.
Q: Why study overseas?
A: Well, there’s a number a reasons I chose St. Andrews. First of all, studying abroad has always been something I’ve wanted to do. Rather than trying to carve a semester out of my busy schedule in college for a program, going to St. Andrews allows me to spend all four of my years completely immersed in another culture.
Another big factor for me was the level of prestige this school had compared to the Big 10 schools I’d been admitted to in the U.S. It’s generally ranked just below Cambridge in Oxford in the U.K. and is Scotland’s oldest university. St. Andrews will be celebrating its 600th anniversary this year, making it the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. For me, there’s something unbelievably cool about going to a school that has traditions originating several centuries before the founding of my home country. As an added bonus, the cost of going to school abroad was nearly identical to the cost of going to an out-of-state public school in America.
. . .
Hopefully this answers most everyone’s immediate questions, although I’m sure for some this only created new ones. Even I still have about a thousand worries that won’t be resolved until I move into my residence hall Sept. 9. With any luck, by then I can answer the biggest question of whether I was certifiably insane for choosing to go so far away for school with a resounding ,“No, I would have been crazy not to take this amazing opportunity”.
Image by: Maria Berger