And Miles to go Before I Sleep: A Goodbye and a Thank You

I’m sipping my last cup of tea in Scotland as I write this, tucked away in a cosy little café across the street from our hotel in Edinburgh. Nostalgia is already setting in and I haven’t even left the country yet. For the past few days, I’ve caught myself reflecting on this past semester, on the lessons learned and friendships made and tiny heartbreaks along the way. Studying abroad isn’t fun 100% of the time (people rarely tell you that) but it is absolutely worth it. And when you’re someone like me who is very all-or-nothing with her feelings (I am ambivalent about approximately zero things) then you’re going to fall hard for all the new people and places and it will hurt like hell when it comes time to leave.

Essentially, this semester was not what I expected at all. I didn’t realize that spending upwards of 2 hours at dinner every night and getting continuously kicked out of the dining hall past open hours would be where I created some of my best memories. That you don’t appreciate a city or a town until you see it from a bird’s eye view (and the climb is always worth it). That cooking together – or having a dinner party in general – is the best way to get to know someone. That long-distance friendships and relationships aren’t easy but it becomes quickly obvious which ones are worth the work. That laughing your way through life is the only way to do it.

Scotland has been incredible and I am insanely thankful that I had this experience. Yesterday, just before we climbed into a taxi and watched St Andrews fade into countryside, I took one final look in the mirror. Without even actively thinking about, the first thought that fluttered across my mind was, “I am a different person.” It’s not just that I look different (myth busted: you get fat on Study Abroad. Wrong! My jeans are too loose and I kind of, sort of, almost have cheek bones. In some lights. When my face is angled correctly. And there’s an Instagram filter) but I feel different. If I’m being honest, a part of me used study abroad to run away; to find what I really wanted out of college and High Point and, I guess, what I wanted out of life in a place removed from all the negative externalities. And while leaving doesn’t always solve your problems, it does make you better equipped to overcome them when you return. I feel more assertive, more confident, and more grateful. I feel like I have a clearer mind and a calmer heart, and yet somehow I have even more passion about life than before. I don’t want to be dramatic and say that I found myself because I never considered myself missing, but I have definitely changed for the better.

So here’s a thank you to my friends, my fronds, my mongeese. For letting me use, “It’s for the blog!!” as a shameless excuse to pause everyone before a meal so I could snap a photo of the food and the table; for assuring me that I don’t have a pointy head but am still a contender for Thumb of the Year; for making me cry in front of the entire restaurant during our last dinner all together with the most thoughtful and heartfelt going-away book; for tolerating my obsession with getting upside down and trying to teach me how to cartwheel; for suspicious furniture and drinks on the beach; for introducing and sharing your families with me; for refusing absolutely to ever let me get away with all the embarrassing things I do for the sake of Snapchat; for liking me even as I moaned my way through cracked ribs; for dancing and singing and never caring what anyone thought; for teaching me that everything is funny if you make it so; for loving me. Thank you so much for everything.

So ends this chapter, just the way it started: with words and feelings and a great cup of tea. I’m not done yet, though. My friend the other day told me I was full of surprises; that she was constantly learning something new about me every time we got together. I’d like to think that I, too, am constantly learning something new about myself. The adventure doesn’t stop here.

Thanks for teaching me that, Scotland.

A Visit to Fife Farmers Market (And The Lizard…)

After breakfast on Saturday morning, a few of us decided to check out what was on offer at the Fife Farmers Market in town. It comes to St Andrews the first Saturday of every month (and then travels to Dunfermline, Cupar, and Kircaldy on the following weekends) and features vendors from all around the area of Fife.

Even though the actual size of the market was small, there were stalls for everything from cheese and venison to soaps, fudge, fruit wine, pastries, organic vegetables, jams, jellies, and chocolate. After nibbling our way through the samples on display, we ended up splitting a freshly smoked trout! It was perfectly cooked (right there next to the stall) and delicious in every bite.

After the farmer’s market, Amanda and I headed into town to pick up some wrapping paper and just window-shop for a white dress that I need for January… A few hours later, however, we were walking home, arms laden with accidental and impulsive purchases. (The day after I feel no buyer’s remorse so we’re in the clear!)  I now have everything I need for sorority recruitment next semester, though, and it feels good to have that sorted out.

Then, following a much-needed nap and some updating of the blog, all of us in halls ordered Indian for dinner (again!) and shared it in the big Old Wing kitchen. Eventually that night, we found ourselves at a nightclub called The Lizard on North Street. And it was… interesting. We went with a big group and had a blast dancing (even with my cracked rib!) but it was definitely an experience that never needs to be repeated. Think of the smallest club you can imagine, and then fill it simultaneously with 17-year-olds in polo shirts and 40-year-old men in blazers and scarves. The DJ was also about 60 and kept interrupting the songs by saying something in such a heavy Scottish accent that I couldn’t understand it. It was a memory to say the least.

Also, zebra wallpaper:

There is nothing I can say to make that wallpaper okay.

Hunting for Challah, University Carol Service, and a Night at The Vic

On Friday afternoon, my roommate Amanda and I searched high and low throughout the town for challah so that we could make French toast for breakfast. However, none of the bakers actually knew what we were talking about when we asked (the Jewish population in St Andrews is apparently miniscule) and we resigned ourselves to a loaf of Tesco baked bread instead.

As the sky turned pitch black around 4.30/5pm, we were fooled into thinking it was dinner time and headed to Jahanjir on South Street for some traditional Balti and Tandoori food. We were not disappointed.

Amanda ordered 1/2 Tandoori chicken and I had the Kashmiri Tikka Kurma with lamb. We also split a giant garlic naan bread.

Later that evening, a few of our friends from halls were singing in the University Carol Service and we all decided to go to get into the Christmas spirit. The service was held in Holy Trinity Church, right in the middle of town, and it was absolutely stunning. Both reverent and light-hearted, the program featured the Latin versions of traditional Christmas carols and served as a reminder that my two years of Latin are tucked far, far away in the hidden corners of my memory. I was particularly moved by the reflection that the University Chaplain, Rev. Dr. Donald MacEwan delivered towards the end of the service. He spoke to the joys and the goodwill of the holiday season, and how God is always with us, even if we’re not sure what He is or who He is or what it all means. It was comforting and inclusive of everyone in attendance, regardless of where they stood on the belief spectrum. The reflection was essentially about the different kinds of love we have for one another and the silent ways it’s shown throughout Christmas. The entire service was really beautiful and I’m really glad we went.

After we congratulated our friends on their fabulous singing performance, a few of us (the “Elders” as we’ve been nicknamed because everyone else in the group is a first year) headed out for a drink at one of our favourite places, the Vic. That’s a weird transition, I know, to go from a paragraph about loving a church service to explaining how we spent the rest of the night, but… such is Scotland. Everything is weird and nothing makes sense and that has been the theme of my study abroad life.

Thirsty for a fancy cocktail, we scanned the menu and settled on one of the gin specialties, a Raspberry Elderflower Collins, which came served in a mason jar which embarrassed Amanda to no end. It was supremely delicious however and worth a repeat, but our adventuring spirits (haha) could not be tamed and we took to the menu again to see what we could try next. I sampled a Witch’s Brew, which was a Gin & Tonic with blackcurrant syrup and finished the night with the strangest Mojito ever.

Anyway, we were sitting there, chatting away to one another as a flannel-clad, Wisconsin-bearded DJ mixed some soft beats when  all of a sudden “CAAARRROOLLLLIIINNEEEEE” comes blasting over the speakers (don’t know what I’m talking about? Listen here) and suddenly, we were no longer in the normal Vic but instead were now present at “Secretly Famous” – an event that essentially turns the place into a nightclub. After about half an hour of yelling at eachother over the now-blasting music, we decided to live up to our “Elders” title and admit that the music was essentially too loud for us to function and we should call it a night. I am secretly an 85-year-old woman and that is okay with me.

Getting Lost, Ice Skating, and a Night at St Andrews Brewing Company

They say you don’t really know a place until you’ve gotten lost there. Well, the Scottish countryside and I are now intimately acquainted.

Yesterday, as the snow fell in St Andrews (shocking me to my core because snow at the beach is so bizarre to me) we stared out the windows, sad that our previous plans of going to Edinburgh had been

thwarted due to winds of 100+ mph on the bridge we needed to take to get there. However, as the sky brightened, we were fidgeting with cabin fever and decided to do something. With grand visions of ice skating the afternoon away, two of my friends and I set off for the ice rink in Dundee. After masterminding the bus schedules and figuring out which ones would serve as chariot, we set off. (Actually, saying we sprinted off would be more accurate, as we left it until the last minute to catch the bus and literally had to run up an icy road to flag down the 99.) We made it though, hopeful and a weird combination of cold and sweaty.

However, the second bus we boarded was commandeered by the rudest bus driver (were not in Fife anymore, Toto) I have ever come across and he sailed right past our stop. Sailed so far past our stop that we saw a sign that said “Welcome to Angus” (???) and  when we finally managed to get off the bus, we were at least 2 miles away from our intended destination. When we mentioned something about it to him, he feigned ignorance and said that we should asked the right questions when we got on… Channeling the passive-aggressive sweetness of the South, I told the bus driver I hoped he had a wonderful day and we promptly hit the pavement.

And so we had to start the long, long trek (in the freezing wind) back to where we were supposed to have been let off. And we walked, and walked, and walked. We passed cute little local homes, tiny by American standards but perfect for Angus. Or Dundee. Or wherever we were.

We passed sheep, and fields that stretched out for as far as the eye could see. We also caught the beginning of the sunset, because we live so far north that it’s pitch black by 4.30pm and our adventure had well started by then.

Then we made it! With about 45 minutes left in the afternoon session and the entire rink to ourselves, we hit the ice and grooved along to some serious throwback tunes. And it was great! Until about 25 minutes in, when the front of my skate caught a little hole in the ice and I went flying, hitting my chest so hard that I had the wind knocked out of me and, two days later, am suffering from some serious internal bruising. Every time I sneeze, I am convinced it will be my last earthly act. (Mom, I promise I’m fine)

After a glamorous meal at the McDonald’s across the street, we hopped the bus back to St. Andrews (did you know that McDonald’s doesn’t salt their French fries? Take note, America!).

AND THEN:

That night, one of my friends had her birthday celebration at the St Andrews Brewing Company on South Street, which just opened two weeks ago. We had a cozy room all to ourselves and I got to meet her friends here, all of whom were sweet and funny and talkative (my favourite kind of people at a party!) The venue was phenomenal. The interior felt warm and inviting, very craft beersy and full of reclaimed wood and interesting installations. The atmosphere was just buzzing with locals and students alike, happy to be there and happy to be tasting all the different beers that the brewers had on tap. They also had Thistly Cross cider on tap – a Scottish favourite – and in that moment, I swear we were infinite(ly interested in trying every single thing on offer.) I got a beer flight (3 for 5 pounds or 5 for 7) and sipped my way through the menu.

If you’re ever in St Andrews and you want to support local  brewers (or you just like beer!), definitely give St Andrews Brewing Company a try!

 

600th Finale Ball

What a night. Three years of anniversary celebrations culminated in the 600th Finale Ball at the University of St. Andrews this past weekend. Hosted by the Fellowship of St. Andrews in the Lower College Lawn of St. Salvator’s Quad, the ball was the definition of a sparkling evening.

Upon entering Sallie’s Quad, members of the committee handed us a wristband each, for which no explanation was given, except for, “It’s a surprise!” The wristbands were clunky blue and white things, and not exactly in keeping with my gown for the evening, but I wore it anyway because I love surprises (I love, love surprises) and couldn’t wait to see what they would entail. But, more on the wristbands later… ;) After acquiring our mysterious new accessories, we headed down the covered walkway and into the tent where we would be spending our night.

What seemed like a regular covered pavilion from the outside was actually a mini winter wonderland with a pretty light installation hanging down from the ceiling draped in white. As soon as we got inside, we were treated to free champagne and a choice of one of 600 Bibi’s cupcakes specially prepared for the occasion. With friends abound and music filling the air, the schmoozing and nibbling commenced immediately.

One of the sponsors of the event was Vladivar Vodka and they were offering free mini bottles of vodka to people with the patience for getting jostled in the queue. I am not one of those people.

However, that did not detract from my acquisition of other delicious cocktails, the consumption of which led to some serious moves on the dance floor. Which! (dun dun dun) is where we found out the reason behind our wristbands! At some point during DJ Del Pello’s set, all of our wristbands simultaneously lit up and flashed in sync with the rhythm of the music. It was fabulous to see our wrists light up all at once and respond to the bass as it thumped out of the speakers and through our bodies.

The rest of the night continued in essentially the same fashion, with intermittent rounds of cheers! because there is so much to toast these days. Such is the affliction of knowing a really great group of people, but I try to be a good sport. ;)

Being at St. Andrews as it’s 600th Anniversary celebrations come to a close has been an amazing experience. Cheers to 600 more.

An Attitude of Gratitude: Thanksgiving 2013

I try to be thankful every day. Before I go to sleep at night, I list the things and people for which I’m grateful. Sometimes as a relaxation technique to put the day into perspective; sometimes as a prayer; and sometimes, it’s just a quick list so that I can send some good energy out into the universe before morning rolls around.

Today, however, is American Thanksgiving! And, being an American with a blog, I feel not only obligated but privileged enough to put together a list of ten things that make me thankful. :) So here we go:

This year, I am thankful for:

  1. My parents, who are the definition of unconditional support and love. I literally (literally) would not be where I am today without them. (And the rest of my awesome family, too!) Thank you for always being there.
  2. My friends, here and there and everywhere. Every day, they remind me how great this life is when it’s shared with others. This semester has taught me so much about trust and what it means to really let people in and see all sides of you. Thank you for seeing all my sides and still loving me anyway.
  3. My schools! High Point University has been an incredible jumping-off point for my academic and professional career, and my love of International Relations and adventure has flourished at the University of St. Andrews. Thank you both for admitting me (!) and then subsequently educating me on how to be an extraordinary scholar, worker, and citizen.
  4. My yoga practice. I am humbled every time I hit the mat. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. There is power and there is love in what the yogic community has taught me this past year and I will take those lessons with me wherever I go.
  5. Similarly, my body. Is that a weird thing to be grateful for? Maybe to some, but it’s so important for me to give thanks for a body that (finally, after years of asthma-y stuff) lets me run and dance and flip upside down, climb monuments and chase after nearly-missed buses. And while it rebels against me every time I drink red wine, I am utterly grateful for this body with all its imperfections. :)
  6. The chance to travel and see the world. While I may not be actively “searching for myself” (my life is no Eat, Pray, Love novel), I am still always on the lookout for new ways to expand my mind and experience something different. Studying abroad has given me access to people and lessons and memories I will always cherish.
  7. An exciting opportunity in 2014 to travel and work somewhere I’ve never been! Details to come. ;)
  8. My sorority, which has given me the best Kappa Delta family a girl could ever hope for (that’s you, Kels & Linds), and the confidence to live my dreams. I can’t wait to return next semester to a group of ladies who truly embody what it means to be Honorable, Beautiful, Highest. AOT.
  9. Postcards, regular cards, and good old-fashioned letters which always remind me that taking the time to let people know you care is worth far more than the postage it costs to do it. Thank you to everyone who has written me (or sent me packages!) while I’m away! Snail mail makes me ridiculously happy and I hope that my correspondence back was just as good!
  10. Technology. I have never been so grateful for technology as I was this year. During a rocky semester, love and advice was always on the other end of a telephone or Skype call. Summer distances were shortened by hilarious Snapchat conversations and text messages, and my semester abroad has just been pickled with reminders of friends and family back home using every platform possible.

What a list. There’s plenty more that I’m grateful for (chocolate, mac & cheese, Netflix, and green tea to name a few…) but I needed to cut it off somewhere or this blog would self-destruct.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful rest of the year.

TL;DR: Here are some photos from 2013 that might give you an idea of lucky I am and all that I have to be thankful for:

72 Hours in Switzerland

I need to update this more often so it doesn’t become a short collection of 3,000 word essays focused on me trying to catch up on everything that happened the past two weeks! In these final weeks, I am committing to myself that I will post more frequently. I would apologize to those subscribed via email alert, but… it’s my blog. :)

Onto a quick recap of my very quick trip to Switzerland to visit my sister, Christina!

After catching a 4am shuttle to Edinburgh Airport on Friday, I eventually boarded an early-morning flight to Basel. Dawn and dusk flights are my favourite because the sky tends to put on a spectacular show around those times.

Case in point.

After a bus and a train ride once I touched down in Basel, I was finally in Appenzellerland where my sister lives with her family! I always feel a little strange when I first get to Switzerland on my visits: I was born there and lived there for 7 years, so I often expect to experience… something when I’m there. But I’m always baffled by how everything changes and stays the same, and my childhood memories of the city have been made fuzzy by time.  It’s not like coming home, but it’s also not like being a foreign place. Thus is the plight of a Third-Culture Kid.

My sister and her three little boys (woah there, I’m an aunt to the cutest kids on the planet) met me at the train station and from that moment I knew it was going to be a fun weekend. The kids were boundless with energy (as kids should be) and lost their shyness with me after I was there for about an hour. Friday was mostly me playing with the boys and then in the evening, we did a lantern walk around town with my oldest nephew’s kindergarten class and some other schools in the area. (No photos because I feel weird taking shots of strangers’ children and then posting them on the internet… But it was super cute!) Afterwards, everyone just socialized while eating and drinking mulled wine. Later that night, I headed out for a drink with some of Christina’s neighbours/my friends, but seeing as I had been awake almost 24 hours by the time midnight rolled around, we called it an early night.

The next morning my nephews were sweet and merciful, allowing me to sleep in past their 5.30am wake-up and only ever so gently creeping into my room around 8.30am with whispered exchanges of “Tante Lillian…?” Bonus points, boys. That afternoon, as snow fell outside, I took full advantage of the my sister’s comfy, comfy, comfy couch and took a nap while trying to watch The Iron Lady. Afterwards, we baked cookies and it was essentially just an adorably cute day. Later in the evening, we headed to Winterbar in St. Gallen, which is essentially a bar built in a field to give everyone something to do during the cold winter months, when outdoor festivals are no longer options and the need to socialize must be met.

(Christina and Me at Winterbar. There is literally no denying we are sisters.)

It was an added bonus that everyone I was with at Winterbar was also in the same dance class! They all dance the DiscoFox and while it’s really easy to learn as the lady (woohoo, less pay, easier dance steps!) it looks so impressive to watch. And it is so much fun to do. I made it home in time for a lovely 3-hour nap before an 8am wake-up on the next morning. On Sunday, Christina and I made our way back down to Basel to visit old friends (and a new baby!) around the area that we used to live. It was lovely to see them again after all these years, to be able to catch-up on life and all its crazy developments.

At the airport, after kissing my sweet baby nephew and squeezing my sister one last time, I had a moment to reflect on how often I have to say good bye to people. I feel like I live my life in constant transition; since I graduated high school, I have never been anywhere longer than 5 months in a single stretch. And the places that I actually have been are pretty far apart from one another. However, I like that.

I like that I get to see new places and experience new things. I like that I am an active writer in my life story and that I refuse to leave a single page blank. And I like that because I tend to be all over the place (literally, metaphorically…) I get to meet people who teach me and laugh with me and love me.

So there’s that. I have a lot of people that I love, which means I have a lot of people that I subsequently miss whenever I leave. And out of all the problems in the world, that is pretty great one to have.

A Meal Through the Ages: Dining at The Adamson

On Thursday evening, a friend and I attended an event jointly hosted by both the History Society and the Fine Food & Dining Society at The Adamson, a restaurant in St. Andrews. (Fun fact: the restaurant used to be the town post office!) The event was “A Meal Through the Ages” and we were invited to drink and dine the night away as we were served meals and cocktails that were specific to 5 different restaurants or hotels throughout different time periods. It was hands-down one of the most interesting and delicious meals of my life.

Curious?

Upon arriving at The Adamson, we were offered a pink cocktail (something passionfruity and vodka-y) and ushered into the main fold of the restaurant, glowing warmly with the buzzing of other guests and the promise of a dinner like no other. After easing into the ritualistic routine of introductions and small talk, we made our way over to the tables to begin.

First course:

Cod fish cakes with sauce gribiche. Featured at the New York Hotel in 1859.

Second course:

Beef consomme’ with royales; a favourite at Martinelli’s by Crane Re-Union in 1881.

Third course:

Crab cocktail with diced tomatoes on a bed of rocket (arugula), served at the Waldorf-Astoria in 1907.

Fourth course:

The main course was astonishing. Veal (that fell off the bone and practically melted in your mouth) in an osso bucco glaze with creamed potato and sauteed spinach. There was still marrow in the bone too, which was also delicious. This dish was a specialty at Blanc’s Cafe in 1931.

Fifth course:

The final course was dessert. It consisted of an orange meringue pie, derived from a recipe used aboard the S.S. President Wilson in 1949. This was my least favourite of the courses as the filling was a little too gelatinous and I am always sad when people take lovely citrusy creations and swap out my beloved lemon for orange.

Throughout the course of the night, we also had the opportunity to order some famous cocktails that were expertly paired with each dish. And while I went out of order a little bit, I did try my first Gimlet (origins 1850′s) and naturally, it being essentially just gin and lime cordial, promptly fell in love. I also tried a Kir (creme de cassis and dry white wine, from the 1880′s) and had a sip of a neighbour’s 1900′s Bronx (gin, Bianco, Rosso, and orange juice – never again) and a 1940′s Sidecar (cognac, Cointreau, and lemon – always again). Also entertained during the evening were a few Long Island Iced Teas (perfectly layered) and White Russians.

…And also a taste of a smokey Old Fashioned, which was one of the fanciest presentations of a drink I have seen.

The server brings you a decanter filled with a block of solid ice and the Old Fashion mix (maple syrup or sugar, bitters, mineral water, and of course, bourbon) at the bottom. However, there is also oak smoke inside of the decanter which diffuses into the liquid and gives it a really full and robust flavour. When uncorked, the decanter releases the smoke and you pour your own drink into a glass over ice. It was both really interesting and really pretentious.

By the end of the evening we were waxing poetic about the food and the atmosphere to our new friends on either side of the table, thoroughly glad we had dressed up and come along. And while I am actively working to forget about my bar tab at the end of the night, the Meal Through the Ages event will definitely go down as one of the best (and most delicious!) experiences here yet.

This Weekend Was For:

Starting my mornings with sun salutations and inversions because the winter can make you sad and unbendy, and both of those are things I want to avoid.

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The driving range at dusk on Friday… and again on Saturday morning.

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Hamburgers and milkshakes in town at Dakota Grill… which quickly transformed into a group colouring session of Highland Bulls. (The caption on mine reads, “Enough of your bull.”)

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The final installment of our Come Dine With Me evenings! Last night we were treated to a delicious Italian pasta course (complete with beautiful wine from Puglia), an Arabic dish in the photo above that was pretty out-of-this-world, and a homemade Tiramisu which was sweet and lovely on every layer.

Being buried under revision and desperately looking for motivation when it’s so cold in the hall’s libraries and study areas.

An Alice in Wonderland themed tea party, hosted by Uni Hall’s wardennial team! It was one of the cutest things I’ve seen, and everything was so delicious and homemade. (Look at that Cheshire Cat cake!) I feel really lucky to have been placed into such a fun and caring hall; the wardennial team and hall committee are always organizing events and socials (and vodka bars) that make the whole building feel like a tiny, warm community.

Dinner (veggie fajitas! mac and cheese! toasties!) with friends at The Vic (surprisingly one of my favourite places to eat in in town. The music is always on point in there, too.)

Also featured this weekend but not pictured: a Godfather movie night, delicious lattes, workout sessions, postcard and letter writing, and a video of the Russian police force singing Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.”

And now, to bed I go because I need the strength to weep my way through studying for econ tomorrow. I’m kidding. A little bit.

The Foamiest Day: Raisin Monday

Life at St Andrews is full of traditions. From gowns to High Table, and from not stepping on the PH by St. Salvator’s Quad to May Dip, there are plenty of age-old celebrations and superstitions on campus. One of the most famous (and definitely the messiest) is the foam fight on Raisin Monday.

As tradition goes, after a Sunday full of celebration and debauchery with your academic families, students are dressed up by their academic mums on Monday morning and sent off to St. Salvator’s Quad with a “Raisin Receipt” from their academic dads. This receipt is something that you hand over in order to gain entrance into the world’s biggest foam fight. On it somewhere should be inscribed a Latin phrase, as per tradition, but some people show up with things like this:

I also saw kids with hands full of cooked spaghetti, a group dressed as the cast from The Life of Brian carrying a wooden cross, a bathtub complete with its faucets and feet, an arm chair (with decorative pillows), cereal boxes, scoops of ice cream, and one particular academic family carrying their ukelele-playing dad on a platform. There is nothing like Raisin Monday.

Once you make it into the quad, all hell breaks loose.

(Sidenote: I thought that the name of Raisin Weekend came from something like, raisin’ hell weekend. Nope. Apparently, as tradition goes, students used to give their academic parents actual bags of raisins in appreciaione for all the fun and wacky things they did for them during the weekend/school term. Nowadays raisins aren’t quite as valuable and we’ve upgraded the tradition to bringing our academic parents wine. Liquid raisins is close enough, right?)

You step onto the quad and immediately someone – doesn’t matter if they are stranger or lover (everyone is best friends in that foamy pit) – attacks you with shaving foam. In about 20 seconds, you go from being slightly chilly and excited to COVERED IN FOAM AND PUMPED BECAUSE OH MY GOD THIS IS THE MESSIEST SCHOOL SANCTIONED EVENT EVER. As the soapy stuff is smushed, sprayed, and slathered into orifice on your face, adrenaline surges through your veins and you become this creature whose sole intent is to make sure nobody leaves the event with a patch of skin clear of foam. And although four days later my hair still doesn’t feel right, it was one of the funniest things I’ve done here so far and is a tradition that I hope lives on at St. Andrews for years and years to come.