Getting on my flight to Scotland a few weeks ago, mask on, I was thrilled. Leaving New York especially heightened my excitement. But I failed to remember that I wasn’t returning to the St. Andrews that I was introduced to a year ago, and the fact that the world is drastically different as well.

As I stepped on the pitch to train for football on my first day out of quarantine, my temperature was taken and I wasn’t allowed to touch any of the equipment. It was just weird, for lack of a better word. I’ve felt the same visiting my friends, having to only accommodate 8 people inside (6 from Monday).

It seems inconvenient now and especially disheartening with many of us having only remote learning. But as many writers at The Record have stressed in previous articles, we have to adjust to this new normal. That means understanding the efforts of the university and Scottish guidelines, and remembering that we have a responsibility as students – especially international students – to uphold a positive reputation.

We can get back in the groove of things by having a drink (legally), hanging out with our closest friends (legally) and truly valuing the friendships this town has introduced us to. I speak as a second year, which means I can’t even imagine being a fresher this year. We have a responsibility to reach out to them and give them as much of a uni experience as possible. At the end of the day, our experience this semester will be reflective of our mentalities.

It is easy to slip into a yearning for normality, wishing for packed pubs and a thriving union,  but yesterday as I walked the Fife Coastal Path I took a moment to appreciate the history and beauty of St. Andrews. We are so lucky to be here, even if it isn’t exactly how we imagined it. So take a walk on the beach, drink mimosas in your flat and make an effort to learn more about your friends and the people you meet.

I’m also extremely impressed with how clubs and societies are adjusting to providing virtual information and support. It’s so important to maintain the aspects of St. Andrews that make it our home – the academic excellence and social opportunities that combined make this an amazing place to be. Reminding myself that I seriously could not do another six months in my hometown, being with my amazing friends and living five minutes from the beach are how I’ve been staying positive.

Although there may not be as many nights in 601 as usual this week, I believe we will all be back in our groove soon enough.