Reflections on life outside of the Bubble

As I walked into “Fat Sams” in Dundee my eyes darted from left to right. New bouncers! New DJs! New Drinks! The ‘Escape the Bubble’ night in support of Childreach International was off to a great start. I couldn’t wait to see what (and who) was beyond the Bubble. However, as the night progressed, I soon realized I might as well have been back at the Union, as the dance floor filled with St Andrews’ students all looking for that escape. 

After Graduation I fully believed I’d be able to ‘escape’ whenever I wanted, seeing people from St Andrews as and when I chose and going about other aspects of life independently. On entering my first GDL lecture the next fall, and seeing a variety of familiar St Andrews’ faces, I quickly realized the distinction would not be so clear cut. I wasn’t always going to get to choose when I saw my former university peers, even though we were no longer restricted to three main streets.  

While further delving into London life, St Andrews continued to play a significant role in my post-graduate existence. I began meeting fellow alumni at dinners, networking events, and through new friends. Our common experience gave us an instant connection and in time close friendships developed. The more time elapsed, the more I came to appreciate these connections. I decided to embrace the links to the Bubble rather than trying to escape it anymore. 

I recently moved back to my hometown of San Francisco and felt sure that now, by virtue of the distance, I would be far removed from the St Andrews’ community. As I roamed the city streets, I knew I was very unlikely to run into someone at the grocery store, on public transport, or in bars – something I had grown used to happening in London, however unexpected. There are certainly fewer alum around San Francisco, but having reconnected with St Andrews’ friends in the area, I soon met other alumni through them. In retrospect, I am not surprised there is a strong contingent in California and I’ve come to the conclusion that wherever I go in the world, I’m very likely to meet other St Andrews’ alumni. Given the international nature of the university and how it attracts adventurous people who are constantly travelling and relocating, I’ve come to realize that it’s unlikely that any of us will ever truly ‘escape’ the Bubble unless we are actively trying to do so. While St Andrews certainly felt small as a student, I have come to realize how large and widespread the community is. 

Upon graduating I would recommend leaning into this network. While running into certain classmates on the tube may remind you of unfortunate run-ins that were all too common on Market Street, you may just meet your next travel companion, business partner, or best friend. St Andrews is a very special place and I have loved meeting so many new people who also chose to spend four cold years in the windiest, smallest and most charming of Scottish towns.  

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