One of my goals that I wanted to achieve during my time abroad was to try activities that I could not do at home. I want to have a memorable experience at St Andrews and the best way would be to step out of my comfort zone and try new activities. The university has so many clubs, or as they are called, societies, and activities to offer, something that I was very excited about. During the second week of school, they have a “Refreshers Fayre” which showcases all of the societies that the school has to offer. After walking through 3 floors worth of societies, I ended up joining 3: Wind Band, Disney Society, and Korfball.
The Wind Band is part of the St Andrews Music Society and is the largest in-auditioned music group that the school has to offer. I play the alto saxophone and am part of the Wind Ensemble at Whitman, so continuing with music here was a must. I unfortunately was unable to rent an alto sax from the school, but a very generous member, and one of the student leaders, of the Wind Band has allowed me to borrow her tenor saxophone to play. It has been an adjustment, but each week I am getting better. There are a wide range of players, some who have played for a long time, like me, and some who have just taken up the instrument. Overall, it is great fun. We meet Thursday nights in the music hall, named Younger Hall, which is a historical and beautiful building. We are also playing entertaining music, such as the theme to Back to the Future and, with some Scottish flare, highlights from the movie Brave.
The Disney Society is just a fun club that brings together people who love Disney. We have film screenings, as we watched the movie Dumbo one night, and we also do Disney-themed Pub Quizzes. Pub Quizzes are quite popular in St Andrews and basically consist of answering trivia on Disney in a pub. I have met many people who share the same love for Disney as I do and some, especially those from the U.K., are in awe that I have been to Disneyland the number of times I have.
I, as many people have, have never heard of the sport of Korfball. To be clear, I was never intending on actually joining a sport club here; I mainly just wanted to use the gym facilities and maybe just try a couple of sports for fun. When I went to the Refreshers Fayre, the Korfball team successfully persuaded me to try out a Korfball practice. I was very hesitant at first, but let me tell you, it was one of the best decisions that I have made here. Korfball is essentially similar to basketball; you play on a basketball court, there are two hoops on each side of the court, and the object is to outscore your opponent by making the most baskets. But, there are multiple differences: a) it is a mixed-gender sport, b) you cannot dribble the ball, only passing is allowed, c) the hoop is a couple of feet taller than a basketball hoop and it is situated around where the free-throw line is in basketball, and d) one side is offense and one side is defense, so there is no running back and forth on the court. The game is a lot of fun, especially since I have played basketball in the past, but what makes Korfball so great is the team. They are very friendly, encouraging, and overall great people. They included me from the start, added me to the Korfball Facebook page, and even added me to the group text message. Even though I can only make one practice a week, it is still a lot of fun. The girls on the team had a movie night and it was a lot of fun.
Overall, getting involved has been a great way to make new friends and to share and bond with others that share the same passions. Trying new activities, such as a new instrument and sport, is essential in growing as a person and creating memories that will last a life time, while also having fun in the process. I wanted to make sure that I integrated into the culture of the University of St Andrews and not just stick with the other study abroad students. By taking a risk and stepping out of my comfort zone, I was able to make new friends and learn more about their culture in the process. I hope that this blog post answers the title, as it is a universal questions that I, and many others, have been asked about a many number of times!