When I arrived at St Andrews I was jet lagged and anxious, as I had moved myself to a new place alone for the first time, and was without internet as I navigated myself to my new home in St Andrews. Immediately, upon arrival, I was greeted by the staff at Agnes Blackadder Hall at the University of St Andrews who helped me settle into this new place. Those first few hours set the stage for the rest of my time at St Andrews. People were genuine, kind, helpful, and welcoming to me throughout the four months that I was there. All of the people I encountered in Scotland, specifically in St Andrews, made the place feel like home.
I took a class called the Foreign Policy of Modern China. On the first day, I sat down in a classroom with 19 others third years and the professor, Chris Ogden, went to the front of the class and began lecturing. He spoke like an academic, and was quite intimidating. I was nervous for our first discussion section, which is when 6 students met with him to discuss that week’s readings for an entire hour. When Wednesday rolled around I showed up for discussion, took a seat in his office, and as Professor Ogden commenced the discussion he asked everyone to introduce themselves, and by the end of the hour had learned all of our names. Throughout all of our discussion sections in the weeks that followed, Chris would press us on the nuances and holes in our arguments, but he always did so kindly and from a place of care. One week as I struggled through a massive term paper he gave me an extension, and ensured that he wanted his students to take care of their mental health first. Overall, Chris cared about each of his students, and because of that I flourished in the academic setting that I had been placed into.
Although I was an exchange student, the campus accepted me as one of their own. The first week I was there, I was adopted into a scheme called “academic families” where two third year students adopt you (and other siblings). Throughout the semester, there are family events where you would get to know all of your siblings and meet other students at St Andrews. It was really cool to be a part of a family because I got to meet several first years, and also people my own age, that go to St Andrews. That, coupled with my community of study abroad people that I built, created a community at St Andrews that made it feel like home for me. I feel really grateful for this community, and how good people were to me the entire time I was in Scotland. I am going to miss hanging out in coffee shops with friends and eating dinner after my weekly golf lessons and my Foreign Policy of Modern China tutorial and all of my friends that made St Andrews home. And while I’ll miss it, I am also so incredibly grateful for this time.