“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” Anne Bradstreet, poet.
The season is changing, thank goodness. Even though it seems like the dour greyness of Fife will last forever, the days are getting slightly longer, and the walk back to your accommodation or house is no longer one undertaken in total darkness by 4pm.
We still, however, have at least a month (if not more) of grim weather to last, and if you’re like me, one can get seriously affected by the lack of sunlight and general terrible climate of constant rain and bitter cold. I asked fellow St Andrews students how they battled through the winter months and kept positive despite the weather, and hold out till we reach another summer of glorious, life giving sun (a majority of this time will naturally be spent indoors, complaining bitterly about the heat and having to get used to the strange sensation of sweat after 8 months in the endless Scottish winter). It can be a tough task, especially with assignments starting to loom, but it is one where you are not the only one having to tackle it, and luckily there is plenty to do to seize the day, so to speak, and keep your mood up through this drab weather and hold out to the glorious summer that Scotland is so famous for, and woe betide those who say that 15 degrees is not a summer temperature — we have to take what we can get!
Keep the blinds open, and keep your room clean. Thomas (first year) remarked that a tidy space meant a tidy mind, and having a clean room with all the natural light it could have made a huge difference every day. Also, not getting an earful post-room inspection will do wonders for your mental health.
Be grateful for the small things. Catarina (first year) talked about how important it was to stay present, and take some time for yourself when the weather gets to you. And being grateful for the little things, like three meals a day and a roof over your head, can help keep one grounded and help snap out of the negativity that the weather brings. I wrote down what I was grateful for, and £1 shot Tuesdays at the Union came worryingly close to the top of the list. Seems I’ll be leaving St Andrews an alcoholic rather than married.
Exercise. Will (first year) said that going to the gym and sweating it out helped pick his mood up after a day trekking through wind and rain to get to lectures. It’s scientifically proven that the endorphins released during exercise are one of the most effective methods of stimulating the parts of the brain that makes one feel good. Not only that, it’s also known that exercise is associated with cell growth in the hippocampus, the area responsible for learning and memory. Kill two birds with one stone through exercise by picking up your mood and helping your general brain function, so next time the weather gets you down, one solution is to whack on some Carly Rey Jepsen (don’t judge, she’s a musical genius) and head to the gym!
Socialise. Humans are social beings, and the importance of forming and maintaining relationships around you is vital, especially when you have to rally against the weather. Sophie (third year) said that no matter what day it was, she forced herself to see at least one friend or more, whether for a coffee, pint or a study sesh, so she could always look forward to seeing someone at least every day. Nothing quite like having a group moan about the weather, and life in general, especially over cheap pints at The Rule.
Join a new society. Even though it’s deep into the second semester, it doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to things you hastily signed up for in freshers week (And let’s be honest, how many of us actually stuck to all the clubs we signed up for? It seems most of my days are occupied by trying desperately to remove myself from the 100 different mailing lists I’m on). Most sports clubs and societies are incredibly welcoming to new faces throughout the year, and having something to look forward to doing in the week is hugely beneficial to distracting oneself from the winter cold.
Try new things. Anna (first year) told me what she loved most about St Andrews, and the way she kept positive and busy despite the weather, was the surprising amount of things to do that this small town offered. Star Radio did a fantastic article on the “Things to Know About St Andrews” which covers a plethora of activities one can do or try about this town. I asked everyone I talked to name their favourite things to do about the town, and the answers included going to Jannettas Gelateria, eating a Mac’n’Cheese toastie at the Cheesy Toast Shack on East Sands (don’t knock it till you try it, trust me), visiting the aquarium, going to the free lunchtime concerts on Fridays put on by the Music Society, and countless others. There’s plenty to do if you start looking. Lunchtimes don’t have to be occupied by dodging the swarm of pesky Madras kids as you queue for another Tesco meal deal.
The winter months aren’t wonderful, but one thing to remember if you feel like the weather is getting you down, is that you are not alone. Push on, keep busy, and before you know it you’ll be playing frisbee on West Sands in the spectacular summer sun wondering where the time had gone. And then we have exams on our hands, during which time you might find yourself at The Rule over cheap pints complaining about those. You will find me at this time the only on eat the Union drowning my sorrows in £1 shots, and you are more than welcome to join me. Prost!