Freshers' Q&A

11/08/14 Reverse order Timestamp format

  1. Awaiting your questions!

    TS The Saint
  2. Can you briefly explain where I can get tickets for Freshers' Week? Do you get a ticket for each event or is it an all-in-one ticket?

    There are lots of events going on during Freshers' Week, but the main ones are run by the Students' Association, also known as the (Students') Union. The Union's website is at and you will be able to buy tickets from there once they are available.

    You can get individual tickets for the events, but if you think you're going to attend them all then you can get a 'golden ticket', which will let you into all or most of them (the details will be clearer once the Union makes the tickets available to buy). Think carefully before you buy about whether you will really want to go out every night.

    TS The Saint
  3. Freshers' Week is just a week of parties and meeting people and clubs, correct?

    Pretty much! You will have to matriculate, which is where you officially enrol in the University, and there will probably be some introductory talks in your hall of residence and academic departments that you should go to.

    Beyond that it's just about exploring the town, meeting people, and settling in. Be sure to attend the Freshers' Fayre at the end of the week to meet the 150-ish student societies you can get involved in (including The Saint!).

    TS The Saint
  4. When and how do we get our academic parents? Do they choose us or do we get to choose someone?

    You'll notice throughout Freshers' Week that there will be a lot of desperate looking third years running around asking people to be their academic son/daughter. The good news is that if you don't like the look of someone who asks you, you can just say no. It's your choice and we would definitely advise you to wait until you get a couple of offers before saying yes to someone.

    There's no set time frame for finding academic parents, but Raisin Weekend is in November; provided you want to take part in that then you should try to nab yourself an academic couple before then. There are some events put on after Freshers' Week to help people find parents who don't have any, and you'll meet plenty of third years by joining societies and sports clubs. Don't panic if you can't find anyone straight away!

    TS The Saint
  5. I've heard about Hamish McHamish and I'm a bit worried. How do you make sure you're safe with a tiger loose on the streets?

    Sharing a town with a tiger like Hamish McHamish is always something you should be wary of when coming to St Andrews. While he tends to keep himself to himself, he has been known to wander into student parties, sleep outside people's front doors and occasionally loiter around student halls of residence looking for unwitting freshers.

    We have attached a photo of him so that you can properly prepare yourself. There is also a statue in the centre of town to alert people to his presence.

    Good luck.
    TS The Saint
  6. I will be staying in private accommodation and am wondering when I will be able to pick up my student card and freshers' info. I am led to believe you usually get this from your accommodation?

    You're right - incoming freshers usually receive their matriculation (ID) card as well as an assortment of Freshers' Week related items when they arrive at their hall of residence. ID cards are also sometimes distributed when matriculating (details can be found here).

    For those of you moving into private accommodation for your first year, we would advise getting in touch with the bodies who are responsible for creating each of these. Email the IT services department at [email protected] to find out where and when you can collect your ID card, and drop the Union an email at [email protected] so they can get you the relevant freshers' guides.

    TS The Saint
  7. Can we get the tickets just before entering the parties or will they probably be sold out?

    It depends on the event. For things like 'The Bubble' and 'Fridays @ The Union' we would strongly encourage you to buy your tickets beforehand (available online here from Monday 18 August) because they are likely to sell out. For some of the smaller events you can probably get away with buying tickets at the door, so long as you turn up before the event starts.

    Our event previews will tell you the popularity of the event and whether or not we think you should buy beforehand, so look out for updates in our Events section to keep informed.

    TS The Saint
  8. If you can’t decide on societies during Fresher’s Fayre because you’re not sure of your workload and how much time you’ll have, how easy or awkward is it to join later on in the semester / year?

    Don't worry! Most societies will be more than happy for you to join up later in the year if you decide you want to get involved. Usually it's as simple as turning up at a meeting and paying the membership fee. In addition, there is a "Refreshers' Fayre" at the start of the second semester in February where all the societies will be on display again.

    Here's a Saint top tip: don't feel pressured into joining too many societies on the spot at Freshers' Fayre. It costs at least £3 a time and that can quickly add up! Ask what you get for your membership - what does the society actually do on a weekly basis? - and consider whether you'll get your money's worth. There's nothing wrong with getting some information, going away to think about it and then returning later in the day (or in the semester, as mentioned above) to sign up.

    If you want to do research, the most comprehensive list of affiliated societies can be found on the Union website here. (An affiliated society is one that is overseen and funded by the Union. Most societies are affiliated but there are some that are independent, such as The Saint.)

    TS The Saint
  9. Why are St Andrews students not able to buy an NUS extra card? And are there any alternatives?

    You can't buy an NUS extra card because, for a variety of reasons, the St Andrews Students' Union has decided not to be part of the National Union of Students. Luckily, there are a couple of alternatives for those of us who can't take advantage of the NUS card.

    UniDays ( offers a great variety of discounts both online and in store at places like Topman, HP, and web discounts like 50% off Spotify premium. Plus, it's free! All you need is your university email address and you're ready to go.

    You can also use your University ID (matriculation) card in any store which offers a student discount in St Andrews (and believe us, there are quite a few).

    There are a number of other options, but these are the two main ones you can use to get a discount on a wide variety of things around town.

    TS The Saint
  10. What happens if you're 17 during Freshers'? Can you still go to all the events?

    Quite a few people find themselves in this position every year. It's a mixed response really - you can get access to all the events in the Union ('The Bubble', Ceilidh, etc.) through your matriculation (ID) card, regardless of whether you are 17, 18 or older. You will not, however, be able to buy alcohol because you need to prove you are 18+ every time you buy a drink under Scottish licensing laws.

    Events outside of the Union put on by pubs and bars in the town will vary, and you should check with the venue before trying to get in.

    Halls of residence will usually organise events for those people who don't drink alcohol or who are 17, so you won't miss out. Our best advice is to check before you go to anything outside the Union to avoid disappointment.
    TS The Saint
  11. I’m interested in various student media in the town. Obviously I’ve heard of The Saint (!) but is there anything like a fashion magazine, arts, humour, photography or sports?

    Editor's note: Please believe that we have tried to be as honest as possible below despite the conflict of interest. If we've missed something, let us know and we'll include it.

    For such a small town St Andrews has a surprisingly vibrant student media scene, with a whole host of magazines and journals. There are quite a few specialised / niche publications run by societies; for example, the Foreign Affairs Review, which is part of the Foreign Affairs Society, and the Jabberwookie magazine, which is run by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Society. There are probably upwards of 20 publications like this (but we haven't found a comprehensive list).

    Then there are some publications that do try to appeal to larger crowd. These include a few general arts magazines, such as The Tribe, Owl Eyes and ST.ART, though there are no magazines just for fashion. Of course, we think The Saint's Arts & Culture section (which includes a dedicated fashion section) is your best bet here.

    For humour, The Albany Parker professes to be St Andrews' "only satirical publication".

    Having scratched our heads, we don't think there are any magazines exclusively for photography (please correct us in the comments if we're wrong). Some of the arts magazines mentioned above do include photography, but we reckon The Saint is the only publication with a dedicated and regular photography section.

    The same is true for sport. To our knowledge The Saint has the town's only regular sports coverage.

    Beyond that, you could also check out STAR, The Stand or Bubble TV.

    TS The Saint
  12. I know this sounds odd, but I’m used to living in a village with horrific mobile signal – so in St Andrews do most main networks have decent signal?

    Phone signal is one of those notoriously subjective things, and your mileage may vary depending on your handset, your location, whether you're indoors, the weather, the position of Mars relative to Jupiter, etc. But the short answer is yes: St Andrews might be small but it's not that remote, and any of the main networks should be fine.

    TS The Saint
  13. Seeing as in the Residents’ Guide it says that irons are one of the items prohibited from halls (I presume they’re a fire hazard) is there anywhere in catered halls where we can iron?

    St Andrews as a university can seem particularly concerned about fire hazards and potential damage to the bedrooms, so many things that other universities allow (like posters on the walls) are prohibited here.

    This includes irons, which conceivably you could do some damage with. Instead you should be able to find one in the communal laundry room along with the washing machines and tumble dryers. In the David Russell Apartments, which are set out like flats, there will be an iron in each kitchen.

    TS The Saint
  14. Are we allowed bed risers in dorms? Can I also have an idea of how much storage space we are going to get?

    We think the answer is no: bed risers are probably not allowed. We're not 100 per cent sure, however, so we recommend you contact the University if you need to know before you arrive. If you can wait, you can speak to your hall's warden or residence manager upon arrival and ask them.

    Storage space varies according to the hall and bedroom - different halls are furnished differently, and some rooms are larger than others. In general, though, you should plan for a wardrobe, a bookcase, a chest of drawers, and a desk with a small set of drawers. You'll also have some floor space, but exactly how much is impossible to predict.

    TS The Saint
  15. I get the impression that the Agnes Blackadder, Gannochy House and John Burnett accommodations are pretty old fashioned, grotty and depressing. I’ve been told not to expect them to be as nice as the brochure pictures (and they don’t look too appealing on there either). Could we get some first hand opinions? How bad are they?

    We're working on this one...

    TS The Saint
  16. I’m from the United States and I’m not exactly sure what to do about my phone situation. Should I get a UK phone?

    It's really a matter of personal preference. One option, which is quite common, is to wait until you get to the UK and then buy a cheap pay-as-you-go phone. This means you'll have a UK number for calls and texts, and you can still use your US smartphone wherever there is WiFi. (The University provides a free WiFi network called eduroam, and the number of University buildings in St Andrews means WiFi is very easy to come by.) St Andrews has a couple of shops that sell phones.

    If you want to use your US smartphone for everything then you will need to buy a UK SIM card for it to avoid paying international calling charges. You might also need to 'unlock' it so that it can work on the UK phone networks. Because every handset and network is different, we recommend asking your phone company or store for advice.

    TS The Saint
  17. Is entry to the Fashion Show included in the Golden Ticket or is it a separate event for which we have to buy a separate ticket?

    We're going to go ahead and assume you mean the Starfields event when you refer to the Fashion Show (feel free to correct us in the comment section and we'll change our response). Unfortunately, this isn't included in the 'Golden Ticket' as it isn't one of the events held in Venue One of The Union - rather, it's an off-site evening, which means it isn't held inside the Union's building.

    Tickets will cost you £35 on top of whatever else you choose to go to, and more info can be found here:

    Note: in follow up to an earlier question, as this is a non-Union event, under 18s will not be allowed to buy tickets.

    TS The Saint
  18. Do the halls of residences look like what they look like in the brochure photos?

    In our experience, the halls of residence look pretty similar in real life to the way they do in the brochure / online. The University may take photos of the nicest rooms and from as flattering an angle as possible, but at the end of the day it has to give a fairly accurate representation of each hall, so don't worry.

    Regardless of what the hall looks like, each one has its own unique sense of community and its own feel - so even if you're not in the most modern or the prettiest, you'll soon be able to look past that when you find out about the individual traditions and communities within each residence.

    TS The Saint
  19. In your opinion, what are some of the courses at St Andrews which aren’t taught as well as others?

    This is a tricky one, as the majority of us at The Saint are arts students, and many of us have taken exactly the same modules. Your best course of action is probably to try to hunt down students who are going into their second year and ask them their opinion. At the end of the day, however, it's all a matter of personal opinion; so our advice is just go with whatever you think you'll enjoy. Very few people absolutely hate their module choices, and you will have an adviser whom you can approach for help and advice with different courses.

    TS The Saint
  20. I've just got my offer from St Andrews - where do I find out about all the events during Freshers' Week? I've noticed you mentioning tickets go on sale tomorrow (Monday 18th).

    All the information you need about the Union's events can be found here. You can also check out the Events section of The Saint, where we are posting previews of all the major nights you can look forward to.

    Bars and pubs in the town will also run their own events, and you'll be able to find out all about them during Freshers' Week - they'll be promoting them like crazy.
    TS The Saint
  21. It seems impossible/absolutely exhausting to go to all the freshers events, even though part of me wants to. Are there a choice few that you would recommend?

    Trying to go to every event during Freshers' is positively exhausting, even for the most hardened partier. Try and take a day or two out and go to one of the quieter events (there will be a list of these in the Freshers' Guide you'll receive when you arrive), or use the time to explore the copious amounts of pubs and restaurants dotted throughout the town.

    When push comes to shove, however, we would definitely have to recommend 'The Bubble' on the opening night, and 'Fridays @ The Union' on - you guessed it - Friday evening. These are two hallmarks of Freshers' Week, and [email protected] (formerly 'The Bop') will be a recurring event throughout the year - get to them if you can.

    There are other big nights, such as Jon Richardson and Scouting for Girls. Such events are rare at St Andrews, so if you're into that sort of evening then definitely take advantage of it. The other events, however, can be taken or left depending on your mood (and your sleep deprivation levels).

    TS The Saint
  22. Hi, I realise that tickets go on sale at 9 am today (Monday) but I won't be able to purchase tickets until tomorrow (payday) and I'm worried that golden tickets will be sold out by then... do you know if you usually sell out in the one day?

    In our experience, you don't need to worry. It is incredibly unlikely that all the Golden Tickets will be sold out in just one day and, if it turns out we're wrong, there will still be plenty of tickets left for each individual event. Although this might cost a little extra, if you're keen on going to all the events, this will still be an option.

    But, as we say, don't worry! The Golden Ticket won't be to everyone's taste, and the £36 price tag may well put others off buying it until payday, or closer to the time.

    TS The Saint
  23. I’ll be starting my first year at St Andrews and living in halls in September, however I’m a transfer student so my classes are second year classes. I was just wondering if outside of class I count as a fresher, a second year, or something in-between.

    Outside of classes, you can really call yourself whatever you prefer. There are second, third and fourth years in halls as well as freshers, so if you want to refer to yourself by your 'proper' title then that's fine - but if you find yourself identifying more as a fresher, nobody's going to make a fuss about it.

    So, long answer short - just whichever you prefer! There's no 'right' answer, and seeing as people from all year groups mix and socialise with one another, after a week it's unlikely anyone will notice.

    TS The Saint
  24. What is there to do during Freshers' Week besides the events set up by the Union? (And besides Starfields!) Are there any other events taking place?

    In short - yes, there are. Every society under the sun will be running their own events, ranging from BBQs to picnics to movie nights and pub crawls. Some will have a cost, some will be free - all of them can be found inside your Freshers' Guide, which you should be given upon arrival. Our top tip is to highlight the things you want to go to and ignore the rest. It's easy to be overloaded with information, and if you suddenly find yourself wanting to go to 12 events a day you'll soon not be bothered (or awake) enough to go to any.

    Outside of the University, pubs like the Vic and the Rule will always have freshers' events on throughout the week, and again you'll be able to find a heap of other stuff to do around the town that doesn't involve the Union or the University.

    TS The Saint
  25. Approximately how much do the second-hand gowns cost that go on sale during Freshers’ Week?

    It's difficult to give an exact figure on these, as a lot of them are sold by individuals who are obviously able to set their price at whatever they like. Given that a new gown is £145 from the Union shop, we reckon you should expect to hand over around £80 - £110 for a second-hand one.

    Tip: Older students will often publicise second-hand gowns on the noticeboards around halls or on your Class of 2018 Facebook page during Freshers' Week, so keep an eye on these before rushing to hand over your money. Ask around and you may find a great deal.

    TS The Saint
  26. Are there any places in St Andrews where you have to be 20 to get in (clubs, pubs)? Or any in Edinburgh for that matter?

    As far as we know, there are no places in St Andrews that require you to be over 18 to gain entry. There may occasionally be events held in certain venues that demand a higher age limit, but 18 is the norm.

    As for Edinburgh - we can't say for sure, but in our experience it's the same as St Andrews. One or two smaller, more niche establishments might have different minimum limits, but the most popular places are definitely 18+.

    TS The Saint
  27. Roughly how many hours of independent study per week would you recommend?

    In a really clichéd way, we're going to say "everyone is different". However annoying that is, it's the truth - some people can read a chapter in an hour, for others it'll take three. It will also vary week-to-week depending on how much tutorial work you are set, and whether or not you have essay deadlines / lab reports / etc.

    As a very rough guide, however, most arts subjects recommend nine hours a week per subject, including lectures and tutorials. So if you do three subjects, then 27 hours a week, minus however many lectures and tutorials you do.

    Bear in mind, however, that first year is generally the time you find your feet: explore and have fun! It doesn't count towards your degree and you only need a 7/20 (35%) to pass each module. So work, yes, but don't let it take over your life.

    TS The Saint
  28. If you are in catered halls and want to cook in the shared kitchen facilities on weekend evenings, is each student expected to have their own pots / pans / cutlery / etc, or are these provided?

    The kitchens on each floor in catered accommodation will usually have an assortment of pots, pans and general cooking equipment, so you needn't worry about bringing that sort of thing. Unless you're looking to cook seven-course banquets for the entire hall every Saturday night, the kitchenware supplied ought to be more than enough. You should bring your own cutlery, crockery, glasses and mugs, however.

    TS The Saint
  29. When you said “it doesn’t count towards your degree”, and you were talking about first year modules, what exactly do you mean by that?

    If you are taking a four year course (which the vast majority of you will be), only your marks in your third and fourth years count towards your final degree grade.

    In first year, you normally only need a 7/20, or 35%, to pass each module - although this may vary, so check first! In second year, again, there is a general 'pass' mark (often 11/20) to proceed into third year. Only in your final two years do your results actually contribute to your end qualification.

    TS The Saint
  30. Roughly how much money does it cost to join sports clubs? For those with special equipment (archery, fencing, etc), do you need to own this equipment or is it supplied/available to rent?

    The cost to join a sports clubs will vary. For some, there may be a very minimal cost or they may even be free. Others, such as rowing, charge an annual fee to cover costs including entry into events, use of equipment, and transport. You can find a full list of membership prices here.

    Those sports with specialist equipment like the ones you mention will often have their own gear that they can lend you for training sessions.

    If you want to find out anything about a specific club, we recommend you email them. You can find the contact details for each club here. There is also a Sports Fayre near the end of Freshers' Week where you can find out more about each sport, sign up to mailing lists and ask questions of current club members.

    TS The Saint
  31. When do you recommend we should buy the books on our reading lists? Do people normally buy them before advising or when classes start?

    We would recommend holding off on buying any books until you get to St Andrews. Not only will you be able to find most of your textbooks cheaply in the numerous charity shops around town, but there may be older students selling their first year textbooks at discounted rates - keep an eye on your Class of 2018 Facebook group and the noticeboards in your hall of residence.

    You may also want to wait until after advising in case you decide to change modules.
    TS The Saint
  32. Will a driver's licence from outside the UK be considered valid ID for proof of age?

    Unfortunately not. For international students, you have two options when it comes to ID: a Young Scot Card, or your passport.

    The Young Scot Card is a free form of identification available to anyone aged 11-26. You can get your hands on one here. Make sure to select 'Fife' as your district. It may not arrive in time for Freshers' Week, however, in which case you will need to use your passport. As annoying as this may be, it is unlikely you will be admitted anywhere with a driver's licence from outside of the UK (though feel free to try and let us know).

    TS The Saint
  33. Where can you go to buy things like clothes hangers and other dorm items?

    There are four supermarkets in St Andrews. Tesco and Sainsbury's are both in the town centre and should have basic things such as hangers.

    Aldi and Morrisons are both slightly further out of town, around a 10 minute walk from the centre, but are much larger and have a more varied selection of products. So if you fancy being a bit more adventurous / indie, you could try these two as your first port of call. Aldi in particular is a lot cheaper than other stores in St Andrews.
    TS The Saint
  34. Do you have to be a student to attend The New Saint at The Old Course, or can non-students attend as well?

    Nope, you can attend TNSATOC even if you are not a student of the University. Many alumni and previous members of The Saint come along to the event every year; the only requirement is that all guests are aged 18+.

    You can find out more about the event, and buy advance tickets for only £15, here:

    TS The Saint
  35. Which subject(s) have a reputation for them being easy? Please be crude.

    Let us preface this response with a disclaimer that what one person finds "easy", another person might find difficult. For example, most of the Saint committee would struggle to write out the chemical equation for salt, while a medic probably wouldn't be able to write a 2,000 word essay on the foreign policy of China.

    That being said, some first year modules are known for being lighter in workload than others. Social anthropology, for example, is 100 per cent coursework in the first semester. While this doesn't necessarily make the work any easier, it certainly lightens your revision schedule for Christmas exams. Film studies may also be regarded as a slightly less intense course for first years searching for a third module.

    At the end of the day, however, we would always say just choose what you think you'll enjoy! If you pick a subject because you think it'll be easy, rather than because you want to do it, the work you get given for that could be a lot worse than a heavier course in a subject you'd enjoy.

    TS The Saint
  36. Would a Young Scot card be valid in other areas of the UK?

    Yep! It's part of the 'PASS' scheme, which means it can be used as a valid form of ID across the UK, not just in Scotland. Some smaller venues and shops in England, Wales and Northern Ireland may not accept it simply because they don't know it exists - but in 99 per cent of cases it will be fine.

    You can find out all this information and more by visiting the FAQ section of the Young Scot website.

    TS The Saint
  37. What is the cost of alcoholic drinks like at the Union? I’ve heard a mix of things, and am wondering about budgeting for this - especially for Freshers'.

    Good question. The Union bars are definitely the cheapest in town; you should be able to have a good time here for £10 or even less (vodka and a mixer is currently £1.50, for example). Most other bars/pubs in St Andrews are fairly reasonably priced, but as with all universities, the Union is by far the cheapest for a night out.

    TS The Saint
  38. Why do we have to pay a £50 matriculation fee?

    This fee has been a gripe for many students over the years. The money pays for your graduation certificate, various letters sent to you throughout your time at St Andrews, and also contributes to a fund to keep alumni up-to-date with what's happening at the University after they graduate.

    Basically, you pay it now so as you don't have to whip out your credit card on graduation day in four years' time.

    TS The Saint
  39. I’ve heard rumours that the academic parent always ends up sleeping with the person they’re looking after in first year. Is this true? I don’t want one for this reason...

    This is a question that comes up every year. The short answer is no - you're no more likely to sleep with one of your academic parents than you are with anyone else. Academic families are a great tradition at the University, and, while a tiny minority of 'parents' and 'children' may end up sleeping together at some stage, this is far from the norm and definitely not a usual occurrence. Don't worry!

    TS The Saint
  40. I've bought my ticket, but used my mothers credit card (with her permission!). The confirmation email says I have to produce the same credit card to gain admission. Is this true or can I use other ID instead?

    The confirmation email for the event is automatically generated by Skiddle, the company we are selling the tickets through. You do not need to bring your credit card with you in order to collect your tickets; your matriculation card or other form of ID will be sufficient.

    Sorry for any confusion!

    TS The Saint
  41. I am guessing the University has a fitness centre/room with weights and various equipment to work out with. If this is the case then can I go to it for free or is there a fee I have to pay? I am only interested in using those facilities, nothing else such as a track or pool.

    In order to use the gym facilities, you will either need to buy a gym membership (£66 a semester, or £114 for the academic year), or pay a flat rate of £3.70 each time you wish to use areas like the fitness centre, weights room, etc.

    You can find full details of membership fees here:

    TS The Saint
  42. Will a visa card that has both a picture of me and my date of birth be valid as a proof of age?

    This site provides all the forms of identification that are acceptable in the UK as proof of age, and they will all be accepted by the Union. Other bars in St Andrews should also accept them; if they don't, contact the University.

    We are unsure whether your visa card falls under the "Biometric Immigration Document" category. If in doubt, sign up for a Young Scot Card, which is both free and an accepted form of ID:

    TS The Saint
  43. What, in your opinion, sets St Andrews apart from most other universities? Also, can you use your student ID as ID to be served?

    Where to begin? Traditions such as the red gowns, academic families and May Dip; a small, close community feel; fantastic academic reputation; the highest student satisfaction in the country - the list goes on and on. You'll understand it more when you get here and experience it for yourself, but believe us when we tell you there is no other university quite like it.

    As for your student ID; unfortunately not. It will get you into the Union (you need it to gain access), but you will need a drivers licence or other legally acceptable form of ID in order to get served at pubs, clubs and bars. You can find a full list of accepted forms here.

    If in doubt, send off for a free Young Scot Card, which will be accepted everywhere in St Andrews:

    TS The Saint