We all know that St Andrews is an idyllic seaside town that has a lot more going for it than its size would suggest. But until you get here, your friends (or worse, family) might ask you how excited you are to study in Ireland. As St Andrews starts to make a visible footprint on your favorite social media platforms, you might notice that your friends from home begin to take an unusual interest in your daily adventures. With spring breaks and study abroad opportunities, you’ll soon find that some of your friends will have hopped on planes, trains, and automobiles to visit you.
Visits from friends are great but full of expectations that can seem daunting to meet. What you should know is that St Andrews will do most of the work for you. Your friends will fall in love with the North Sea, the cobblestone streets, and the occasional sighting of tartan. If you find yourself wanting for things to do, here are a few suggestions.
Having friends visit is a great excuse to briefly get out of the bubble and do things you ordinarily would not. Hopping on the bus and getting fish and chips in Anstruther will allow your friends to feel like they are getting a real taste of life in Scotland (pun intended). If you think that it’s an exaggeration to say that Anstruther is home to the best fish and chips in Scotland, you are wrong. If it’s a nice day, you can get your fish and chips as takeaway and enjoy them while sitting on the pier from which you can see the Isle of May on a clear day. Pro tip: There is no such thing as too much vinegar.
Taking a day trip to Edinburgh also never fails to impress. For a budget-friendly day, start at Calton Hill where you can admire the views of Edinburgh ranging from Arthur’s Seat to the Balmoral, Scott Monument, and Edinburgh castle. For the Harry Potter fans, head to the Elephant House for lunch which is the most famous of the cafes in which J.K. Rowling wrote the acclaimed series. To ensure that your friends see the most famous sights of Edinburgh while learning a bit about the city’s history, take a free tour of Edinburgh which will cover more ground than anyone could on their own. In lieu of a flat fee, these tours ask only for tips so you can pay whatever you deem appropriate. Depending on the weather, end the day with a hike up Arthur’s Seat, a visit to Scotland’s National Gallery, or a tour of Edinburgh Castle or the Palace of Holyroodhouse. By the time you’re back in St Andrews, your friends will be planning their next visits to Scotland.
Of course, there is a ton to show your friends in St Andrews. Be sure to go on a proper pier walk, do the “Chariots of Fire” run on West Sands, climb St. Rule’s Tower, and reenact the foam fight in Sallies Quad. Your friends will probably expect St Andrews to be home to a grand library. For their sake as well as your own, do not take them to the main library or allude to its existence. Instead, head over to St. Mary’s quad and visit the King James Library which is much better suited for a 600 year-old university. After enjoying a pint or two at Aikman’s, head over to Forgan’s on a Friday or Saturday night so your friends can experience the wonders of a ceilidh and so you can take a break from the Lizard. Walk around the Old Course on Sunday and be sure to get a picture on the Swilcan Bridge. If you’re feeling fancy, you can also get afternoon tea at the Old Course for £22 or £33 per person.
After living in St Andrews for a bit, it’s easy to take the town’s charm, history, and location for granted. A visiting friend serves as the best reminder for all that St Andrews has to offer.
Anstruther Fish Bar: http://www.anstrutherfishbar.co.uk
Calton Hill: http://edinburghguide.com/parks/caltonhill
The Elephant House: http://www.elephanthouse.biz
New Europe Edinburgh Tour: http://www.newedinburghtours.com/daily-tours/new-edinburgh-free-tour.html
Edinburgh Castle: http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk
Palace of Holyroodhouse: http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/palace-of-holyroodhouse
Scottish National Gallery: https://www.nationalgalleries.org
Ceilidhs at Forgan’s: http://www.forgansstandrews.co.uk/nightgatherings
Afternoon tea at the Old Course: http://www.oldcoursehotel.co.uk/dining/afternoon-tea
About the Author: Meredith Lerner is a third year studying International Relations. She is from Bethesda, Maryland.