Historian in the Making
by Craig Conners
(Rancho Santa Margarita, California USA)
St Salvador's Chapel, St Andrews
My family and I live in Southern California, and prior to the Spring of 2008, none of us had ever been outside of the U.S. When our son received an offer of acceptance to the University of St Andrews, we decided, that same Spring, to get a first-hand experience of what that opportunity might bring by visiting the Kingdom of Fife. He and I made the trip by air to Edinburgh, then by rail to Dundee, where we stayed in a hotel for our 4 day visit. We shuttled daily into St Andrews to the University where we were provided with tours and opportunities to meet with a number of students and faculty members as part of a prospective student orientation program. In addition to that, the two of us did see most of St Andrews and a small portion of Dundee - at least what we could reach on foot. Our trip was an amazing experience in so many ways. We experienced sights, local history, restaurants, architecture, and the wonderful people. We had taken in so much in such a short time that it was almost bittersweet to leave for home so quickly.
A short time after our return home, our son did indeed decide that the University of St Andrews offered the most exceptionally unique opportunity for him to study his passion, history, and we embarked on the plans to get him settled in the fall. With September came the second trip to Fife, this time for my wife, myself and our son. Now, with such "vast experience" to our credit, my son and I went about showing my wife what we had learned on our prior trip, and getting her not only acquainted, but comfortable with the idea that we would be returning to the states with one fewer passengers on the flight! It was certainly difficult, but at the same time incredibly gratifying to witness our son's unbridled excitement as he quickly adjusted to the idea that he was embarking on an amazing journey. This transition was made much easier by virtue of a local Fife couple who we had the good fortune of "meeting" online just before our September trip. We not only met them in person upon our arrival, but had the pleasure of staying with them for a couple of days and were hosted to sights and experiences we would not otherwise have had.
The Kingdom of Fife left a remarkable impression with all 3 of us. We found the public transportation very clean, efficient, and relatively easy to utilize with no prior experience. In addition to our host's friendly accommodations, the bed and breakfast at which we also stayed was exceptional, and we would happily return - as well as recommend them to others.
As I write, our son is literally days away from finishing his first year of study, and is already looking ahead to his second (as Social Convener of his residence hall, no less). Although with our son's international travel back and forth, it isn't currently easy for us to journey back to Fife, we definitely have plans to visit as soon as possible - this time with a few additional family members! We are undoubtedly some of Fife's most outspoken fans abroad!!