The most common question I get is, ‘So exactly how does the Programme work?’ and it’s a pretty valid question. I didn’t even know for sure when I applied, or even when I was accepted.
I’ve summed it up to be this: you spend half your undergraduate time at William & Mary and half at the University of St Andrews in St Andrews, Scotland. You can choose to do one year at one university, two years at the other, and then return to your home university for your final year, or you can alternate years. In the end, you graduate with the same degree from two universities, so for example, I would earn an international Bachelor’s of Arts in English from William & Mary and from St Andrews.
It’s a pretty sweet deal, as someone I met on the plane ride over here for my second semester said. It’s actually really cool, and pretty scary, but generally exciting. You get to be a part of two different cultures and traditions, make friends from all over the world, and there is so much travel time. Obviously it’s been really hard transitioning, moving away from the familiarity of the Tribe and cute little Williamsburg and trading it in for horizontal rains and sunsets at half 3 (that’s 3:30 in the UK lingo). I am so lucky to have an awesome group of second years in the Programme who I met last year and we are all here together, a part of a study abroad program that is so unique from anything else in the world. Having them as a support group is incredibly comforting, knowing we are all going through the same Sunken Garden and Aromas withdrawals and the eye opening North Sea sunsets and St Salvator’s Cathedral.
I have finally gotten used to the accents and the different slang, the lectures and tutorials, the professors, the people. But you can never really trade in the moments from Williamsburg for the ones here, you make new ones. New, completely different ones that are entirely unique. The change is scary, definitely, but not so scary that you wouldn’t take the leap of faith and dive head first into trying new things.
The best part of all the new and the change is the story. You write such an incredible tale when you travel and learn from other people, whether they’re professors or friends or even just staring at the falling ruins of the old St Andrews cathedral. I guess what I’m trying to say is that fear isn’t the enemy, it’s a motivator. If you’re interested in the St Andrews William & Mary Joint Degree Programme, it’s a study abroad experience unlike a semester away program; it’s up to you if you want to take it as it is, or make it your own.