Monday 28th September: Reason #5 – Inspiring Lecturers

I cycled to St Mary's Quad for my first (and only) lecture of the day: New Testament History and Theology.

In my post about advising I mentioned that my lecturer is also my advisor. I thought we were going to have an introductory lecture, but Dr Iverson preferred to ease us into the year by casually asking us why we decided to study his module. Apart from the obvious ‘it’s compulsory’ answer, we talked about how important it is to try and understand how Christianity developed from a group of followers of Jesus into an institutionalised religion, as well as agreeing about the undeniable ‘footprint that Jesus has left on the Western world’.

Before the end of the ‘lecture’ he put up a painting on the whiteboard and asked us what we could see.
This isn’t the one that he showed us but look at the painting that St Luke is creating of the Virgin Mary and Child. It’s a similar scene to what is taking place behind the easel, and yet, baby Jesus has been depicted as fondly looking up towards Mary instead of sitting straight ahead as he is shown as doing on the right.

So how does this painting relate to how we should approach studying the New Testament?

Well, we should realise that the New Testament is not a BBC News witness to what happened but an ‘interpretation of events’. Just as St Luke’s painting, ‘events have been highlighted and enhanced’ depending on how the author has understood it.

Profound words from Dr Iverson. An encouraging start to the semester methinks, not only because I remember what was said during the 50mins I was sat in Lecture room 2, but also because something he said will stay with me for a very long time:

‘never study for a course, but study to learn

Sunday 27th September: Reason #4 - Societies Fayre & Pier Walk

A few friends and I wandered over to the Union pretending to be Freshers in order to get some free goodies from the Societies Fayre. We signed up for the odd society too, but primarily we went for the complimentary goods.

Head to Head: Catholic Society vs. LGBT Society

A list of free things we were given:

· A faulty rape alarm that went off whilst we were in Tesco, deceiving the till worker into thinking her scanner was broken and the rest of the customers (in and outside the store) that a car alarm was going off
· The most hideous glass advertising Irn-Bru
· A couple of bottle openers
· A Frisbee from Pizza Express
· A Conservative badge
· Blister plasters
· Tangle toy
· A ‘goodie bag’ of trim, extra, mint, vanilla, blueberry, chocolate, strawberry and banana condoms
· Ominous looking sweets from Asda

It being the first Sunday of the semester, the traditional Pier Walk was to take place after Chapel. So in the spirit of acting as if we were Freshers, we moseyed along down to East Sands to:

1. Take photos
2. Discuss how much we (well my friends) like seagulls
3. Grumble at how those doing the pier walk ruin our photos by walking sporadically
4. Grumble at how some of those who are doing the pier walk ruin our photos by not wearing gowns

'I look like a bird' - You do when you flap your arms like that

Friday 25th September: Reason #3 - Studying More Than One Subject

Advising is the process of attending an appointment with a lecturer from your faculty in order to be advised on whether your module choices are suitable. It’s supposed to take fifteen mins but I was in and out of there in five.

My advisor’s Dr Kelly Iverson,who also happens to be my New Testament lecturer this semester. I was quite glad (I shouldn’t have been really) when he told me that Old Testament studies wasn’t a compulsory module this year as it’s allowed me to take Philosophy and Classical modules.

Woo. Plato and Homer.

Thursday 24th September - The Joker

I went to the Union with a couple of friends to watch a comedy show. Tickets for events in the Union are pretty cheap and with us not ‘bopping-it’ the next evening we thought ‘why not?’

The show started with Blind Mirth; they are an improv comedy group comprised of St Andrews students who warm up the audience by playing games with them, such as acting out scenes based on the rowdy (sometimes obscene) suggestions of the crowd.
Next to grace the stage was Noise Next Door who, in my opinion, is a really good improv/music act. We (the crowd) were in such a fine mood that they ended up compiling songs based on whether there will be circumcision in the future, a mock radio station that plays operatic/emo and reggae songs about Star Trek and a song dedicated to a member of the audience. This (unsuspecting) person was serenaded by the quintet with a song that featured lines such as:

‘we all have cameras so why don’t you focus’
‘would you open your legs as wide as a parachute’

The person we had ‘all’ (I didn’t know who he was before tonight’s show) been waiting for finally came on stage. I can’t comment much on his performance except that he giggled manically quite a lot and enjoyed inserting the f-word into every other sentence. It’s not that I didn’t like him; just that it was getting late by the time he came on and my body had already subconsciously decided that the insides of my eyelids were far more appealing.

What can you do?

Tuesday 22nd September: Reason #2 - Catholic Society

Second to last volunteering event for the week and I found myself dispatched to help with the Catholic BBQ at Canmore.

There weren’t many people when I arrived, but with free food and the usual what-are-you-studying banter one encounters during Freshers’ Week, the place was packed before you could say a prayer.

I like Canmore even though the building is home to noticeboards that look like they have been decorated by 11-year olds, and sofas so old that once you sit down you find yourself wedged as if you’ve watched an episode of Derren Brown. With a picture of the Pope positioned next to one of Indiana Jones, it’s got more variation than you can shake a crosier at.

There was one person I met that didn’t have a clue as to what Catholicism was about. He was taken for a quick tour around Canmore when he stopped and pointed at a photo on the wall.

Fresher: Who's that?
Volunteer: Erm… That’s the Pope
Fresher: Ah!… Who’s the Pope?
Volunteer: *gasps and begins to recite a Hail Mary*

This guy’s reaction every time he was told something new was like watching a 5-year old in a toy store.

One person’s ignorance is another’s form of laughter.

Monday 21st September - Why You Should Come to St Andrews: Reason #1 - Gowns

Only three events left to go!

Spent most of my day measuring people (don’t go getting any ideas), learning the art of folding a gown and discussing with students and parents when and how to wear them.

Well-known suggestions as to when to wear the bright-red (or in my case black) -hogwarts-like-with-bingo-wings gown:
· To exams
· To formal dinners
· For some societies
· To debates
· To get into the castle, free of charge
· To work (if you are an ambassador)
· To chapel
· For the infamous pier walk
· For academic ceremonies

Less common, but nonetheless familiar, uses for a gown:
· For fire alarms (more common than you think)
· As a dressing gown
· As a blanket when the boiler’s broken
· For halloween
· To lectures
· To stop traffic (although this is now obsolete; I know because I tried)
· Every day

How a gown should be worn:

It is traditional for first-years (Bejants) to wear the gown high on the shoulders and for second years (Semi-Bejants) to wear it lower on the shoulders. Third year students (Tertians) wear it off the right shoulder if in the Faculty of Science or Medicine and off the left shoulder if in the Faculty of Arts. Fourth year students (Magistrands) wear it off both shoulders [as pictured on the left].

A general rule, it is considered bad luck to hook the fastenings on the undergraduate gown, or to wash it. - Wikipedia article.

And there you have it: an insight into one of the many odd traditions of the bubble!
Credits to photographersdirect and University of St Andrews website for photos.

Saturday 19th September - Freshers' Week

Began the first of seven compulsory events this week donning my large Persian blue volunteer’s t-shirt and a big cheesy grin, ready to greet the Freshers as they come pouring in through the doors.

Did I say pouring? Trickling more like. There weren’t as many students as I had expected but most of those who did arrive seemed quite perturbed by all the strange people in blue t-shirts smiling at them. Although that didn't stop us. With complimentary tea/coffee and free lollies (as well as the power to decide who proceeds through Freshers’ Week intoxicated and who doesn’t), what I thought would be a long and tiresome couple of hours ended up being quite enjoyable.

After dropping my family off to the station I finally had the chance to just relax and soak in what – essentially - will be my new ‘home’ for the next year. With my beloved camera out of action I’ve had to make do with my camera phone. Here are the results:

Fire and kitchen go hand in hand
The Kitchen/Diner
There were no doorstops so I had to make do
The view from the living room
The view from the kitchen
The pond and the other flats
My company for the next couple of days


It’s cold, I’m shattered, there is no heating in my new flat, I am ‘restricted’ from using the internet on my laptop and my camera is broken. Abso-f*ckin’-loutely fantastic.
Oh, and I seem to be suffering from Tourettes. I’d never noticed that before.

Credit to mhackett for the photo.

Friday 18th September - Hogwarts Express

Took off from platform 9 ¾ at a busy King’s Cross station this morning. Wait – correction – it was actually platform 3.

Bound for the endless greenery of St Andrews, the seven hour journey was tiring with only The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and several cups of tea to keep me going.

At Leuchars station waiting for a taxi and wearing a thick coat (St Andrews only has two seasons: End of year Winter and Start of year Winter), to see nothing but grassy rural countryside made me happy to be back in the ‘bubble’.

Definitions of ‘bubble
1. a hollow sphere of gas
2. a colloquial term used by St Andrean students to term the place usually known as St Andrews (AKA home of golf, the place where Prince William studied etc.). The word bubble refers to the concept that students who live and study in St Andrews are immune to the affairs of the outside world. (Imagine the biomes of the Eden Project and you get the picture).
3. an impractical and illusory idea (similar to the Student Union’s definition of St Andrews as a place of fiction).

Wednesday 16th September - Catholic Education

The Cardinal Newman Society have released a guide (albeit for the American education system) to choosing a Catholic college. Assuming I have any readers, this could be really helpful if you are thinking of progressing into higher education.

Not only does it provide advice on the advantages of living on a Catholic campus, it also supplies a list of Catholic colleges and even suggests reasons why Philosophy or Theology could be for you. Even if none of the above applies to you, it’s worth taking a look at the foreword by Fr Benedict Groeschel, who I had the pleasure to meet.

Colleges are places where students are able to fnd God or to have God hidden from them. Where they can learn to live a virtuous life or expe-rience how easy it is to embrace the lies of our permissive culture.

Talking Heads - Psycho Killer

Can't get this song out of my head... 'Qu'est-ce que c'est?'

Tuesday 15th September - Rain

I made it through the rain and back home wet to the skin, despite wearing a coat and one of those golf umbrellas that London commuters despise so much – the only exception being when you are the one holding the umbrella and not sidestepping to prevent your eye being poked out.
Don’t you just love the sound of the rain though? It makes a nice change to the police sirens, rowdy yelling and car alarms I hear too often outside my window.

Credit to PointlessStuff for the photo.

Sunday 13th September - Fide et Labore

'We need God's grace not only for our lips to profess our faith, but to live it in our lives.'

My priest's homily was focused on today's second reading on fide et labore. His point being that there is no use in saying something like ‘I am a Catholic’ even if it is with conviction; good deeds are also required for us to truly be ‘Catholic’.
Just as there’s no use in saying ‘I’m sorry’ if you continue to hurt the person; or telling someone that you hope they get better when instead you can spare an hour of your time to keep them company. It doesn’t hurt to act upon our words once in a while.

The reading also reminded me of the time I had to attend a Baptist church as part of an essay involving a comparison between two Christian types of worship. The whole fide et labore or sola fide debate was something I would have liked to touch upon, but discussion about salvation deserves an essay in itself. In short, Baptists believe that professing one’s love and faith to Christ is all that is required for salvation, whereas Catholics believe faith and works are necessary.

I really enjoyed writing this essay, one reasing being that I was able to take the easy way out by comparing a service with a Catholic Mass. Aside from writing about the obvious architectural variations and theological differences on the Eucharist, I couldn’t help but insert a bit of humour into my essay:

‘Just to raise a point, I found it peculiar the way in which the pastor appeared to ‘force’ God’s will by asking Him to ‘remove [their] sins now’. Although I’m sure this effect was not intended, I could not help but visualise the image of God from Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam ‘zapping’ away their sins.’

Luckily for me, my tutor saw the funny side of it and in the end my moment of flippancy actually paid off. My conclusion was quite a critical one, choosing to take the ecumenical high road by asking why we prefer to recognise the disparity between the two traditions rather than the similarities. But that’s another story.

I don't have very good memories of Baptist services (yes I've been to more than one; 'Traitor!' I hear you cry), one because I was Bible-bashed for not believing that I am 'already' saved and two because three whole hours of my life were squandered away trying to (reluctantly) be converted by phrases such as ‘JESUS LOVES YOU VERY MUCH’.
Everyone knows if you want to convert someone all you have to tell them is that ‘bells, smells and altar rails’ are the gateway to heaven.

I don’t really know what my point was; perhaps I was even trying to make several… Anyway it doesn’t matter. I think I just felt like I needed to add some theologically insightful flesh to my blog. Although saying that, I think it’s still looking a bit skeletal, don’t you think?

Friday 11th September - Good Times

Sifting through my email account, deleting various junk such as enquiries I sent about trolleys, the odd viagra email and whatnot, I stumbled across something that made me cringe/laugh/smile.

A very good friend of mine was trying to cheer me up one time and so compiled a list of things I had said regarding topics ranging from being absent at school to men. I'll only post a few so as to save me (some) embarassment:

[about a killing headache]: i might just explode like peter! (from Heroes)
[about DT]: RAH
[about an absence]: i extremely dislike missing school unless im actually on the verge of dying
[about late nights on MSN]: am happily distracted, like a rabbit in headlights
[about our forgetful ways]: its like surpassing menopause and gaining the mind of an elderly person
[about your headache]: i have a headache from hearing the do ddod do sound the phone makes
[about your gender]: and i would know, as im a girl i would think so anyway lol
[about teenage depression]: we always need someone to reassure us that were not all pieces of crap
[one of my favourite quotes]: but again you are right
[you being profound]: the way i see it, as i remind myself every single day, is that things happen for a reason, a good one in the end
[about your own mindset]: those like me are (too) clouded by other thoughts, to realise that most of whats important in life is right in front of us
[you reassuring me]: theres nothing wrong with living in a dream
[about your ethnicity]: probably do, seeing as im from venus
[about men]: its ok for a man to cry, if he doesnt id think him wierd
[about men]: i think it is FACT that guys just do not get hints
[about tea]: see i know that if i drink tea my bladder will swell to the size of a pea
[random moment of childishness]: hehe that rhymes
[a very helpful quote]: we can't choose who we love

Thursday 10th September - Absence

I have no good reason for not posting on here lately apart from, perhaps, immersing myself in the customary routine of meeting up with people before they return to university. (Which for me, is not long now after I naïvely decided to volunteer for Freshers' Week... *grumble*).

Wholly unrelated to what I've just said, I went back to my sixth form yesterday to pick up some work that my art teacher decided to display at reception. As to why he chose to bewilders me, but you can judge for yourself: