Maddy Alley

Maddy Alley at St. Andrews. The scarlet gown has been worn by the University undergraduates since 1672. — Courtesy Kate Feiffer

Every year The MV Times asks four recent high school graduates to write about their experiences during their first year after graduation. Maddy Alley is a 2016 graduate from MVRHS. She is attending the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Twenty-four hours after marching onto the ferry in Oak Bluffs and waving goodbye to the park where I grew up flying kites, the gazebo I danced around, and the ice cream places I cherished, I ducked out of the rainy sky into a small apartment in Edinburgh, Scotland. The next three days would be filled with shopping for the items that didn’t fit onto my transatlantic flight, adjusting to the time difference, and getting my bearings before traveling up the coast to Fife. There, in a small town called St. Andrews, I move into my dorm and begin my college career at the University of St. Andrews.

Three thousand miles away from Lambert’s Cove, I have found myself situated in another oceanside town, complete with the familiar sound of seagulls and the smell of seaweed. St. Andrews is a small town, made up of three main streets, each about the size of Circuit Avenue. In addition to its beauty and quaintness, the town hosts two international attractions that bring people gawking: the school and the golf.

Golf was invented in 1457 in St. Andrews, and golfers of all levels still come to play the three courses scattered throughout the town. My only personal relationship with golf is sneaking through Farm Neck on a bike headed toward the beach, so I am probably not moving around the world to focus on golf. I am here for the school. Forty-four years before golf, 79 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, the University of St. Andrews was established. Today, over 600 years later, I am beginning to establish my own story in the school’s long history.

I’ve always loved going on adventures, whether it was a new trail up-Island or a new country — I’m always excited to explore. I decided to enroll in a college abroad for all four years so I could continue my adventures. I plan to study neuroscience during my next four years here. European schools are more specialized than the traditional American liberal arts–style school. This allows for a deeper study that can begin sooner and last longer. In my first semester I will be taking only three classes: biology and psychology, which are both required for my neuroscience degree, and one more course of my choosing.

Saturday morning I move into my dorm, a stone building across the street from the oldest golf course in the world, with views that extend over the course to the ocean. I am greeted by new faces, a new room, and a new roommate. Unlike most of my friends who spent the summer getting to know their roommates, I don’t find out who mine is until we are crammed into a room together. After settling in, my new friends and I will commence into “freshers week”: a week of orientation events before classes start.

I’ve already been able to make a few connections with friends of friends (a strawberry farmer and a horse named Guinness), and I am hopeful of finding myself a Scottish family. Other than that, I don’t know anyone, but I do know that soon my Island-grown mind will be introduced to accents and attitudes from around the world.