Letters from Scotland
By Jonathon Farrell


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Castle Ceilidh
photos by Jonathon Farrell


May Dip at 5 a.m.


Sunrise as we head back to bed

Hello again!

As usual, I have been busy doing essays these two weeks. Finished my last two essays, and even found time to have some fun in between! 

I believe I left you at the Kate Kennedy procession. Since then, there have been a lot of tradition events happening as the year winds to a close. 

We had a bonfire on the beach after the last time I wrote, and from there I headed to a ceilidh dance. This one was a bit different from the others I have told you about - it took place in the ruins of St. Andrews Castle, which was really nice. Lots of space to dance in, and a beautiful view out over the sea. 

After that, I spent the entire week writing essays. During this time, the assassins game I explained last time kept going, and I was drafted as a security guard. I saved three lives one day, and orchestrated someone's death, and then my partner in crime was killed himself (in the bathtub, nonetheless!), and I could finally breath easily. 

The next weekend was very exciting - it was just full of crazy St. Andrews traditions. 

The first big event was, of course, the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, for which almost everything in the UK was shut down. I hear that there were rumours that I had been invited to the wedding - this is not true, though I wish it was! 

I was invited to the hall party for it though, with cakes and iced tea, and everyone dressed up as if we were going to a real wedding. Some people were playing a drinking game, which involved such things as singing "God Save the Queen" and a different phrase for each royal, but I did not - for one thing, this was all before lunch! 

Spent the afternoon on my essay again, and heard all kinds of celebration for the Royal Couple going on. That night, we cooked ourselves a nice dinner, and planned to go to the Gaudie. This is a ceremony honouring the courage of St. Andrews students who had done exceptional acts that year. It is in honour of one in 1880-something who swam into the sea in January five times to pull people out of a sinking ship.

Unfortunately, we were enjoying our dinner so much that we missed the ceremony altogether. Spent the night in preparation (and very little sleep!) for the next big event, to take place at sunrise the next morning.

Sunrise here is already at just after 5 a.m., and there is light until 10 p.m. so this was an early day for the May Dip. This tradition is one of the two big ones here, along with Raisin Weekend from November, and had us all on the beach at sunrise to wash off any bad luck (or the effects of stepping on the accursed PH stones from where a martyr was burned during the Reformation) in the North Sea. 

It was quite a sight - thousands of students, most of whom were somewhat inebriated and some of whom less than clothed, running madly into the sea at sunrise. I was sober and dressed, but I ran in anyway! And much to my surprise, it was quite similar to Lake Huron in June!

Lots of people clearly have not swum in our lake, and thought it was just freezing; my friend Jonathan almost fainted in the water, and I had to hold him up and stop him from hyperventilating!

I came back to my room and finished my night's sleep after that. 

There was another castle ceilidh that night, but we did not attend; instead, we just talked about everything else that had happened. I spent the next week working on essays again, and I am proud to say that I am done now! I still have some course work to do, but nothing as serious or stressful. Classes are finished here, and my exam is a week from tomorrow.

Tonight is a big night as well - there is the May Ball which has everyone dressing up in tuxedos and evening gowns and going out into a muddy field for Fall Fair rides and a dance, and there is Waltzing on West Sands, which I am going to, and am very excited about! 



More Ceilidh


Jonathon Farrell, son of Geoff and Sandra Farrell of Huron-Kinloss, is studying at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland this school year, through a student exchange program at Queen's University, Kingston, where he is a third-year student.

It is a dance (ceilidh, not waltz!) on the beach, and is supposed to last from 6:30 p.m. until 6 a.m. I seriously doubt I will be staying there the whole time, but I must say I am very excited for a beach dance and bonfire party!

Shocking as it may seem, there is a chance that this will be my last letter from Scotland! I have 12 days left in St. Andrews, and then I am going off on one final tour of the UK, during which I will finally be making it to England, and even London. 

There are many other stops planned too, but I will not say too much now. Though there may be no more letters from Scotland, I will at least send one from home once I get there on May 30, if not one from England!



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Sunday, May 08, 2011