Halls are to students what hair-type is to women: you’d rather have what she’s got. If your locks are dark and straight, inevitably you dream of blonde curls. And, much akin to hair envy, from your DRA flat, miles out of town, you’d much rather be in Macintosh, Sallies or even – gulp – Melville.
I spent much of my first year suffering from the affliction of hall envy – envious of those who didn’t have to schedule their morning routine around the bus timetable, or worse – schlep their laptop on the long hike into town for a 9am lecture. I was envious too of all those freshers who met their peer group around the breakfast, lunch and dinner tables; who had their social life served up to them, quite literally, on a plate.
But as I mentioned (read: whined about) DRA and this piece to a friend, he looked at me with misty-eyed wonderment and asked, “But what about the parties? The flat parties?” And he was right – the flat parties at Doctor A, or ‘Draaah’, as my American friends preferred to drawl it – were a defining part of the hall’s identity. After all, there’s nothing quite like hiding in a friend’s en suite bathroom from the wrath of Jim the Warden. Terrifying? Hilarious? Too drunk to tell? It’s moments like these – spent in an en-suite bathroom full of strangers – that are the making of pure DRA magic.
Pros: Under-floor heating. During those bitter Scottish winter months, I reassured myself that most students would be envious of me complaining that I was ‘too hot’, tucked up in my double bed in Scott 2. I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase ‘too hot’ in St Andrews since. It’s also nice to have your own kitchen – at least, when your fridge is full- and sharing a flat, though limiting, can bond you: the Room 1 to my Room 2 is still one of my flatmates all the way into fourth year.
Cons: It’s far out of town and the buses don’t run on Sundays or as regularly on weekends. It’s slightly harder to meet people because flats are sectioned off and some buildings are more sociable than others. Seeking out the “party buildings” early is your best bet for maximizing socializing, but essentially, Draaah is largely about luck. Many meet their best friends there, but others might find themselves wishing for a slightly more sociable atmosphere.
Beware of… The buses. Get your hands on a timetable as early as possible and treat it like your bible. Learn the bus times, and you will be facilitated with a reasonably straightforward, semi-peaceful life – except on weekends (then, you’re on your own). There is really is only one way direct bus to DRA and that is the 92. Any other bus will take you everywhere else first, so unless you fancy stopping at every old aged pensioner in Greater Fife’s home, choose the right path. Choose the 92.
Eat: At the weekly Curry Night in the Facilities Building. It’s probably the best food Doctor A offers and saves you scrounging one less meal from the back of your freezer. Plus it’s a great opportunity to scope out, and potentially even meet and greet, other DRA-ers. Otherwise, as a general rule, avoid DRA food. It’s bound to be fouler than anything you concoct in your flat kitchen, which is saying something.
Nearest watering hole: DRA is the only hall in St Andrews with it’s own bar, in the Facilities Building – think a pool table, a few flat-screen TVs and a total lack of atmosphere. If that doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, then your next nearest bet would probably be the establishment formerly known as the Raisin (now The Blue Stane, end of Market Street) or The Westport, depending on which route into town you take.
Quality of Rooms: Exceptionally good, possibly the best in St Andrews (though I won’t say definitely – if I could genuinely admit to having seen a room in every hall, that would probably give you the wrong idea). Double beds, en-suite bathrooms, and did I mention the under-floor heating? It’s as though Doctor A singlehandedly makes up for it’s many disadvantages in the quality of its rooms, and you’ll never have heating this good in St Andrews ever again. Appreciate it whilst you can.
Don’t Miss… The quirky events hosted in the Facilites Building. Some of my favourite memories from first year were sitting, mesmerized, through an entire series of comedy skits I couldn’t understand at the Chinese New Year celebrations (strangely entertaining). And then there was Presidential Election Night: watching the results of one of the most memorable political moments in recent history come in on giant projector screens throughout the night made the event even more exciting.