Although you might get the impression from this blog that all we did while we were in St Andrews was have holidays and trips, that was certainly not the case. Most of the time the parents were working and the kids were going to school. So in this post I want to catalog some of the more plain aspects of our life in St Andrews, from my own point of view.
Walking to Work
About an hour each day was spent on the walk to/from work (about 30 minutes each way). I really miss this, actually. Although I’ve biked to work many days since returning to the US, that’s much more exercise and requires much more attention to what you’re doing (for safety) than just walking in a quiet, little town. Before and after our year away, my watch almost never said I got 10,000 steps in a day. Almost every day in St Andrews, I did without even thinking about it.
And the walk to work was often beautiful. The pastor of our church lives on the “street” shown below, and I would walk there when going to “life groups” at their home, or past it on my way to work.
From there, my walk continued along a well-known path in town called the Lade Braes (pronounced “laid brace”) which, in some seasons, had flowers and bushes all over.
The homes along the Lade Braes are some of the fancier homes in town, and often have beautiful gardens. Here’s a view from that path down into some of the yards of the neighboring homes.
But even when the weather or season wasn’t good, the Scottish mistiness often brought out a rainbow. We have tons of rainbow pictures, and I was often snapping them just while walking to work. Here’s a double rainbow over the park near our home, where we often let Meg run around.
And because the university is so old (over 600 years), its buildings are quite traditional and beautiful, like much of the town as well. So when on campus, the scenery was just as good. The Computer Science Department (where I worked that year) and nearby science buildings were modern, but there were plenty of buildings that had been around for quite some time, like those shown below.
Near graduation, things look particularly beautiful, because of the sunny weather:
Being at Work
Now, my office was nowhere near as beautiful and historic as these buildings. In fact, as a visitor, I shared an office with several graduate students. But that was actually delightful–I didn’t want privacy; I wanted to meet people and get to know our temporary home as deeply as possible. I had plenty of fun conversations with (and, in progress, probably slowed down the studies of) Adam, Naamdi, Chloe, Martynas, and a few other folks with whom I shared an office at one time or another. One of the best things about working at a university is hanging out with people younger than you, and feeling their gravitational pull against your own aging!
And if ever I was sick of that office, I could find one of the libraries on campus to work in. There were some truly beautiful ones, such as this converted church. One must be very quiet if one is to work in here. It’s great!
Every day at about 10:30am, many people in the Computer Science Department would take a break from their work and meet in the common area for coffee and snacks and chatting. Not everyone went every day, and many days I was concentrating too much on what I was doing to remember to go, but when I did go, I got to meet the faculty in the department and get to know my own team better. Sometimes people from math or the nearby science buildings would show up as well, if they were doing a project with some CS faculty or students. That group also had a pub night every Wednesday after work, which I attended maybe 50% of the time.
Out with Friends from Work
Near the end of our time in St Andrews, I realized I had not yet gone golfing in the town, not even once, even though it is the “home of golf.” Of course, the reason for this is that I’m not a golfer, but I used to know how to golf when I was in college, so it would be nice to go once and not miss the opportunity. After all, the turf is beautiful there, in no small part from a climate that’s perfect for it. One Computer Science Department friend and one Math Department graduate student and I decided to all go together, because we were all equally terrible, and could thus match up well on the beginner course.
Although the historic Old Course would have been astonishingly cheap, as a town resident, for me to go to, I was not anywhere near good enough of a golfer to take advantage of that privilege. This should be quite evident from the scorecard below.
If you’ve tried golfing at any point, you know the feeling of hitting an awful shot that ends up on a neighboring hole, and needing to step in the way of some other group of players and ask if you can hit your ball back onto the hole you belong on. Well, as you can see from the map above, there are several courses closely abutting one another in St Andrews, and that map doesn’t show all of them. So I had the dubious honor of once hitting my ball not just onto the wrong hole, but onto an entirely other golf course, and needing to creep over and whack it back onto the correct course. (Thankfully, it was not the Old Course.)
But we had a great time, and even the beginner course was lovely. We had a sunny day with a good, cooling breeze, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Plus, I got par on the very last hole!