As the first somewhat normal semester we’ve had in a long time comes to its midpoint, with it comes a moment much appreciated by both pre and post-pandemic St Andrews students: the independent learning week. This year represents the slow return of many activities before considered normal. Today felt like ‘firsts’, this first independent learning week marks the UK’s careful lifting of its long-established travel restrictions. Many students decided there was no better way to enjoy this than in the St Andrian way, fleeing from town the moment Raisin celebrations ended.
Since October 4th, Scotland’s red list, following UK guidelines, is solely composed of seven countries, meaning that travelling to any other countries when vaccinated would lift the need for quarantine when returning. Being placed in a rather strategic location right off the European continent, Edinburgh offers direct flights to many European capitals and holiday paradises, which is no secret to St Andrews students with an urge to see the world once again and take a deserving pause.
While some chose to stay in town and catch up on their studies, others explored the beauties of Scotland, took a trip back home or went to further European locations. Although no one place, in particular, was pursued by St Andrians this year, countries, where the weather is still on the warmer side, appeared as favourites.
Since the end of October marks the turning point in Scottish weather and daylight levels, it is no surprise that Italy, Spain, Croatia and Greece appeared as some of this year’s top locations. From walking the historical villas to taking trips to the beach, students enjoyed the last breaths of warm weather, while some even set personal goals of wearing shorts and dresses for as long as humanely possible.
Other sunny options like Portugal, with its large cities and beaches that serve as every surfer’s paradise, also filled the needs of those who sought a bit of sunshine. On the other end of the spectrum, students deep dived in the highlands. They enjoyed the notoriously pleas-ant Scottish weather, only this time with in- credible rock formations, hills and lochs as background for the drizzles and grey skies of which we are all oh so fond.
Cultural activities and music festivals also drew attention to places such as Amsterdam and Berlin for a couple of students. The weather was, at most, a side character and we endeavoured to enjoy the freedoms that we’re slowly reclaiming, such as dancing and having a good time with total (vaccinated) strangers by your side.
Finally, London did not lose its long-established spot as a student favourite, being such a notorious cultural, historical and entertainment mecca. Many students of St Andrews could be seen in Leuchars’ station on Monday night hoping on a train to King’s Cross — all of them fresh from the showers after finally getting rid of the foam and mud combo that covered their entire bodies earlier that day.
While we all love St Andrews and the events it offers, it was time for a break. Whether you journeyed home to see family or travelled abroad to see the wonders of the world, we can all agree that some time away from work was needed. That is not to say that St Andrews was totally empty this past week. Many 4th years slaving over dissertations, academic parents and children recovering from Raisin, and covid conscious community members keen to stay home, filled streets. Whatever your adventures over the break, as we all return to town it is time to look forward to the St Andrian events of the future.