Hey William and Mary freshmen, this post is for you! Please feel free to leave comments, and hopefully older WAMSTAs will use that same space for quick answers. Additionally, leave a question for the Partnership under the questions tab and we will email you back ASAP as well as releasing similar info for anyone else who might have the same questions.
Booking A Flight
From a US student to those going to St. Andrews, BOOK EARLY! Right now you can get a nice little one-way ticket to Scotland for a clean $300! I would suggest StudentUniverse.com. It is often better to book a one-way ticket because exam schedules are not released until early November. However, some book round-trips for the latest possible finals date and just travel or chill out in that extra time, or bump up their travel dates for a small fee if they can. Personally, I just make my Dec/January flights return and one-way my Sept/May tickets.
Compare and contrast airlines, little ones. My number one priority tends to be luggage allotments. For two free 50lbs bags I will fly into Glasgow. If you are a little nervous about travel however, flying into Edinburgh will be a tad easier. You can book ahead and reserve a University shuttle from the EDI airport to St. Andrews for a measly 18 pounds (though I would tip, especially if you’re carrying your entire life in your luggage). Glasgow is a little trickier and requires some manipulation of the public transport system.
As for which date to pick – you have to be in town for Freshers Week. Not only is it fun as hell, but you have your advising and sign up for courses that week, so be there or don’t get enrolled. Freshers starts on the 7th, and your halls will send you move-in dates and time information. Wait until you have your hall assignments to book a hotel/hostel (St.Andrews is a tourist town and is chock full of em — though they go quickly so book asap, there is likely one very convenient to your dorm) and if you can’t manage to get a reasonably priced room ask around amongst some older WAMSTAs for a couch to crash on.
You have a couple options here – you can buy a plan, buy a burner, or switch out your sim for a pay-per-month. If you don’t know if you’ll be there for two years and don’t want a pricey plan, burners are quick and easy, though generally function on a pretty basic level.
Myself and a few others made sure to have our phones unlocked here by our respective carriers, popped out our SIM cards and then bought new ones in Scotland. You have to buy one directly from the carrier, so when in Edinburgh (or Glasgow, or wherever you went through) stop by a 3-Store (“3” is the actual name of this phone company). Here you just ask for the £15 all inclusive plan and they will give you a Scottish SIM. From then on, every month you just buy £15 of credit to power your phone for another month on unlimited data, 500 minutes and some odd number of texts. This saved our butts on many a traveling abroad experience.
Pack cold weather gear. It’s heavy, but worth it. Ladies, pack your prom dresses, gentlemen, your tuxes/suits. Pillows, duvets, towels, and toiletries might be worth buying/replacing when you arrive.
Take great care to check all luggage restrictions with your airline as you pack.
Never, everrrrr lose track of your passport.
Figure out how your bank will charge you for foreign transactions/withdrawals. Sometimes it is just easier to use your American bank. If you want to get a Scottish bank account, go to each and ask questions and get information and compare/contrast what they can give you. Some have better conversion rates, some wire money more inexpensively, some do or don’t charge you for deposits/withdrawals. Check it all out. You will need proof of your residence in halls and your passport when you go back to make this account.
However, it will be at least a week or two before you get your debit card, so figure out what you will do in the meantime.
Roommates and Freshers
Fresher’s week is nuts. Tickets however, do not really have to be purchased that far in advance. I would suggest talking to your new friends the week of to see who is going to what and purchasing tickets with them. Remember that events can be a bit pricey and you have a couple balls coming up!
While I would suggest that you branch out from the people you know from W&M (like maybe don’t room together) definitely take the time during Freshers to catch up, make plans, and GET INVOLVED! This is also the time when clubs and sports are recruiting and you should think about getting involved in both! The beauty of St. Andrews is that you will have some significant time on your hands, so fill it with productive things!
You might feel it the day you get there, you might feel it a month afterwards, but if I can suggest one thing, and one thing only – DO NOT WALLOW. You might be tempted to meet up with another WAMSTA for coffee and complain about this, complain about that, and miss your old friends, but shake it off, team. Stay positive and enjoy the things that only St. Andrews can give you. Take the time to talk to mom, dad, your freshman roommate, but if you make yourself think positive, pretty soon it will just be natural. Also, remember that all your friends at home are jealous of you and your killer instagram account.