Studying at the University of St Andrews as an Australian

Waiting for an email from UCAS was a traumatic experience. However when all was done and dusted, letters received, interviews over, I was over the moon to accept an offer to study at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.

A lot of people in Australia ask me why on earth I would want to move to the UK for my education, when so many Britons are moving to the Antipodes. The answer to that question is that studying in the UK offers a wonderfully diverse and exciting university experience that complements career aspirations to differentiate myself in the 21st century global job market. 

Whilst moving out of home is unusual for Australian university students, it is the norm in Britain. At St Andrews most students live in undergraduate halls of residence for their first year and it is a fantastic experience. Living in close quarters with your academic peers means you forge bonds that will last a lifetime. After two years at St Andrews I can say that I have made many really dear and like-minded friends and it was certainly not difficult at all to meet people in such a warm and welcoming community. 

Proximity to continental Europe is certainly a huge positive. Like many young Aussies, the chance to backpack through Europe has been a long held dream of mine. Living in the UK has given me the opportunity to use my Easter holidays and other breaks to explore Europe relatively cheaply. Not to mention the fact that going to such an international university like St Andrews means you will make friends from all over the world. I’ve stayed with university friends in Sweden, Switzerland and even as far as the United States. Life in Britain is also stimulating and relaxing in equal measure. Through the St Andrews Law Society and Model UN Society I’ve travelled to the beautiful cities of London, Cambridge and Edinburgh to take part in inter-university moots and debates, seeing more of this gorgeous country along the way.

Most importantly the academic environment in the United Kingdom is truly world-leading. My lecturers in the Department of International Relations at the University of St Andrews are not only leaders in their field but part of the best politics school in the United Kingdom and one of the best in the world. Being at St Andrews has meant exposure to cutting edge research in my chosen honours modules as well as the opportunity to hear from experts such as Harvard’s Michael Sandel and even meeting Hillary Clinton!

That is not to say that it’s all about hitting the books. St Andrews like other UK universities offers a vibrant cultural scene with an enormous weight of tradition as well as many happening balls and a plethora of societies to meet every interest. Some personal highlights have included the Gaudie and May Dip, rowing with Boat Club, the Wine and Cheese Society, Raisin Weekend, May Ball, being on the committee of the DONT WALK charity fashion show and attending the 600th Anniversary Dinner at Middle Temple Hall in London in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

I have had a fantastic experience as an Australian at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. It is intimidating to study abroad but take the risk, push yourself out of your comfort zone and throw yourself into every opportunity and the UK will reward you for it!

Lachlan Blair
Perth, Western Australia