This time of the year in St Andrews is marked by several common occurrences: Barbour coats, an almost palpable sense of exam anxiety, and the usual complaints about the shorter days and longer nights. Standard Time (that is, the opposite of Daylight Savings) has a bad reputation and much like 2017 Taylor Swift deserves vindication. After all, it is the best time of year.
The most common objection against Standard Time amongst university students is that it doesn’t leave enough time in the day to work. The common story is you’ve spent the entire day tolling away over your readings and online lectures to only to look out the window at 4pm and shock horror! The sun is already setting. This demoralising betrayal by the sun is enough of an excuse for you to close Panopto and open Netflix. Yet, at least in my view, this time of the year gives the best studying experience. For one, it allows for the cosiest setting to study in. In my opinion, as soon as the sun sets, you are legally allowed (and morally obliged) to change into pyjamas.
During the summer months, societal norms can mean you don’t get to change into your pyjamas until sometimes as late as 8pm or 9pm, but in the Winter months, this can be as early as 4pm or 5pm. Cramming for an exam or pulling an all-nighter to write an essay is always difficult, but it is significantly less difficult if you are wearing Pudsey joggers. Moreover, at what other time of the year can you motivate yourself through your readings every night with a hot chocolate by your side? Doing your tutorial work under the soft hue of fairy lights (chances are if you’re a university student you certainly have them), in the pyjamas you should really consider throwing away but are far too emotionally attached to be able to, warmed by a mug of hot chocolate, is the best way to study and no amount of daylight or sunshine could ever change my mind.
Although sunny seaside days and late summer sunsets have their own beauty, this time of year is by far the most aesthetically pleasing. Braving the life-threatening winds in a massive winter coat is worth it for the experience of coming out of a tutorial or library session and seeing the Christmas lights and shop front décor. St Andrews is beautiful all year around, but particularly shines on a Winter evening. If Christmas lights aren’t your thing, the shadowy cobblestones and gloomy architecture make for the perfect dark academia experience. There is something quite mysterious and slightly mystical about St Andrews in the dark, that makes even the trek to Tesco’s an experience rather than a chore. Unfortunately, I don’t live in Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, but I can sure pretend I do on Winter evenings.
And it’s not only the town that looks generally cosier in the Winter, but also the people. Standard Time provides ample opportunity to flex the best type of clothing: jumpers — be it crewneck, oversized, or a cardigan. With Standard Time comes the best season: comfortable clothing season. Yes, the coat you’ve had ever since Duke of Edinburgh may be a bit unfashionable, but is there anything cosier than donning the comfortable attire that this time of year requires? This type of clothing is also so good because of how concealing it is. Am I wearing my last good top because I’ve been slightly late doing laundry? Maybe––but no one can see that under my massive coat. Am I sometimes so late to a tutorial that I wish to avoid the St Andrews formalities (“Hi!” “How are you?” “Where are you headed?”) when I bump into someone on Market Street? Yes, and a thick scarf around my face with a woollen beanie renders me completely unidentifiable and incredibly cosy.
All in all, although there are good reasons to dislike this time of year (you will never catch me defending the gale force winds), there’s a lot that’s also special about this season and it’s great to have the opportunity to experience it in a place as beautiful at St Andrews after a year of being at home.
Illustration: Liza Vasilyeva