For many here, it’s a bubble, a small place where kids (though a lot of us would hate to be called that) are trying to transition to be big people, with big-person hats and big-person CVs and big-person laptops. It’s a place of student events and practically student-run, student-funded coffee shops and student residences and lecture halls. It’s beautiful, it’s vibrant, it’s frustrating, it’s full of some real talent.
These things are St Andrews to me, a student, but they’re not St Andrews, Fife. They’re not the physical, hard, geographical location of St Andrews: they’re not the place strung out along three streets between three beaches. They’re not the place that sees tides roll out and the stars slowly come out earlier and earlier as the winter piles layers of jumpers onto us all.
St Andrews is somewhere along the coast in the East of Fife. You can see the curve of the coast as it heads up towards the Firth of the Tay and Dundee. You can’t see very far towards Crail or Anstruther, but they’re there, down along the Coastal Path.
The tides are extreme here in Fife, and here in East Fife it’s flat enough to get a huge scope of sky. But you only really feel that scope near the edges, along the beaches or along the roads leaving St Andrews.
This is the first year of being in St Andrews that I’ve really begun to grow curious about Fife. I’ve always been curious about the Highlands and the rest of Scotland; I’ve made it a point to explore. But for some reason I’ve neglected following the edges of the sea or leaving the town but not the Fife sky.
This is one of the dangers of being in a beautiful place. You get stuck there, and you search for the next big thing–you look for the next munro or the next ‘cultural centre’ but maybe miss the next town over.
This is one of the secrets of being in a beautiful place: you head to the edges and realise it’s beautiful, and then you realise the edges go elsewhere. You realise that the geographical location of a sometimes seemingly disconnected place ties the town to a broader, more complicated landscape.
words and photos by me.