Our graduates| Jonáš Jelínek| St. Andrews, keep it that way!
19. November 2012 Jonáš Jelínek

St. Andrews, keep it that way!

Time flies when one is having fun, so it has somehow happed that it has now been more than two months since I set out for a journey of my life. Looking out of the bus window, my eyes trying to catch a sight of trees whizzing by, I pondered upon whether I had made the right choice, whether it would be the place for me and what challenges would St. Andrews bring me.

Yet, the moment the Romanesque tower of the Cathedral loomed up out of nowhere, the sea spread on the horizon and there was no going back, I realized that my doubts were groundless. Whatever was going to happen, I knew it would be the most extraordinary time of my life. From that moment on, everything was going to be new, inspiring and challenging.

Moving to an unknown place makes everything automatically different and new. It is not just the accommodation, way of life, new people, new city, it is just everything… University Hall, the place I live in, consists of three buildings two of which are ancient looking – it is the typical antique English Harry Potter style, in fact, one of the buildings is a small castle itself. Although a bit far from the centre, Uni Hall is an excellent place to be, both the facilities which include a tennis court, a basketball pitch, several common rooms, two libraries and a foosball table and the people make it worth living in. The city itself is no less beautiful, it combines a peculiar atmosphere of an ancient Scottish golf coastal city with a spirit of student ease. The university is spread around the town, walking to a class is thus simply delightful. As far as studies are concerned, University of St. Andrews, as well as other Scottish universities, provides a very flexible curriculum. Before one can fully concentrate on his or her main subject, it is necessary to study three subjects each semester in the first two years. Those, however, can be adjusted during the course and one is given a lot of time to decide on her or his degree. This semester, I am taking modules in International Relations, Economics and Arabic.

Arabic is definitely the most challenging module I am taking this year. In the beginning it seemed like another “normal” language, yet, its Semitic origin became more than apparent once we finished learning the alphabet. It is not only the different structure and “illogical” grammar, but also the pace of the classes, which is partly adjusted to the students who have some previous knowledge of Arabic, that makes it difficult. The workload is quite heavy – I had no idea that I would translate sentences such as I graduated from Omdurman Islamic University in Sudan two years ago and I do not know what to do now in the middle of my first semester. Apart from everyday tutorials, daily self-study is required. Compared to Arabic, the teaching in IR is a bit less intensive – there are only three lectures and one tutorial in a week. However, extensive amount of reading is required every week. Lots of articles and chapters prove especially useful when it comes to the two essays in first semester.

Whatever you do in St. Andrews, you can always get inspired. First and foremost, it is the people who make up the community and create its spirit. There are a lot of friendly and open-minded people you can meet in a plethora of clubs and societies; having friends from all around the world is a normal thing. What distinguishes St. Andrews from other universities are its traditions – most notably the tradition of the Raisin Weekend when first year students go to their academic parents’ and have a good time. Unfortunately, alcohol is often the only source of fun. For now, I am involved in a volunteering project that works with both physically and mentally handicapped people. Personally, I find this very inspiring and rewarding.

As there is an Arabic assignment due tomorrow I really have to conclude and go working. I will, however, cover more topics in my next posts as there is always something to talk about. Overall and what is the most important thing, I am having a great time in St. Andrews! To my surprise and content, there is something new, inspiring and challenging every day even after more than two months. St. Andrews, keep it that way!

More than anything else I have to thank to the Kellner Family Foundation for making all of this possible. Thank You a lot!

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