Nathan Nault ’11

Last week, I did a little complaining about the weather we’ve been having lately. Looks like the golf gods heard my prayers because the weather did a complete 180, and other than a few showers Saturday, it was sunny all week. Perfect golfing weather. In the spirit of taking advantage of the only sun we’ve seen in 2 months, me and a few of the Holy Cross guys decided we would golf everyday this week – and we did. We actually went twice on Monday, so that’s a total of 8 rounds (even if some were only 9 holes) in a span of 7 days.

Unfortunately, a few of those rounds were on the Balgove Course, which is more of a field with holes and flags than an actual course, but it’ still golf so I’ll let it slide. We even attained a little variety with a few rounds on the Strath, 18 holes on the New, and to top it off, I played a solo 18 on the Old on Wednesday afternoon (probably my best round yet).

Our Holy Cross academic advisor took all of us out to dinner last night at this Italian place called Zizzi’s. We’re all pretty spread out around St. Andrews so although I didn’t get to see the people at the other end of the table, it was still good to have everyone in the same room. It was the first real meal I’ve had since Prague (where I had some bomb goulash). I ordered an entire 4 course meal and plenty of wine. Looking back on it I probably went a little overboard, but on the positive side, nothing went to waste and I got to eat real food for once.

All our plans for Amsterdam are finalized. We head out at the crack of dawn (or maybe earlier) on Saturday, and come back on Sunday night. I’m missing the New Hall (the dorm I live in) Ball on Saturday night but when I’m 40, I think I’ll look back and be happy with my decision. Actually, I’m pretty sure I’ll look back on it next week and be happy.

Pretty pumped I’m getting out of St. Andrews for a couple days. I love the place but my life has become way too predictable. I either golf, go to the gym, go out, and twice a week I go to class – and that’s about it. While I’m living the dream, its still nice to have a little variation once in a while. Anyway, next week’s post should be pretty interesting.

It hit me yesterday that tomorrow is the beginning of March and 2/3 of my trip is already over. It’s weird because with

Urquhart Castle - Actually went there

only 3 months left, there’s still so much I haven’t done. I’m really looking forward to coming home. It’s tough because while I can’t wait to come home, work for the summer, and then be back at Holy Cross next year, I don’t want to think about it so much that I lose sight of everything I want to do here.

There’s still plenty of traveling to do, and believe it or not, there are still parts of St. Andrews that I haven’t seen. Not to mention I still want to play the Old Course a few more times before it gets too busy, and they begin shutting it down as they get it ready for the British Open. My goal is to find a balance between being excited to get back to the States, while still taking advantage of everything I can over here, because let’s face it, there’s a good chance I won’t be back.

It’s been pretty hard to do anything around St. Andrews lately though. Other than the minor yet rare snowstorms we’ve had, the weather hasn’t been that bad this year. I know I always associated Scotland with wind, rain, and cold, and up until this point, we had been lucky enough to experience very little of that.

Of course this past week may have been the most miserable yet in terms of weather. 25 mph winds, rain, and temperatures in the low 30’s made it impossible to get out of the dorm and do that much. Needless to say, very little golf was played. I hate to complain though because from what I hear, the Northeast United States is in the middle of a “snowicane” – glad I’m not there right now, I like having electricity.

Switching to the class on Medieval Castles was definitely a good decision. I went for the first time on Thursday. It’s taught by the same guy who taught my class on the Mongols, so no surprises in term of assignments or his teaching style – just another way to make my life easier. Half the kids who were in my Mongols class are also in Castles so I had no trouble finding people I knew, and when it comes to student graded presentations, we should have it made.

Other than my birthday last week, life has been pretty quiet. Some people from Holy Cross who are studying in Ireland were here on a visit, which was great because we took them to a few places in St. Andrews that I haven’t been to in a while. Hopefully the weather clears up soon. I’m quickly realizing how much I need golf to keep me sane.

I went to a whiskey tasting on Wednesday night.  I realized that I hadn’t done much in the way of experiencing Scottish culture in the past few months other than golfing, so it was good to taste one of Scotland’s most popular drinks. It was led by a guy from Straight Up Whiskey, although I don’t think I ever caught his name. He was totally into it – kilt and all – and he knew his stuff so although it was supposed to be somewhat informational and educational, it was also pretty fun.  We got to taste 5 drams including a Blend, Single Grain, and 3 Single Malts, and now I can actually tell you what all of those are. They had some whiskey left over so we were able to go up and get a few more samples after the tasting.

It was my birthday on Thursday, the big 21. It’s weird turning 21 in a country where I’ve been legal to drink alcohol since the day I got here. It probably won’t really hit me until I get back to the states and buy a beer legally for the first time.  My friends from New Hall bought me Budweiser for dinner for a little taste of home. After dinner, we went over to another friend’s dorm for some more drinks, some cake, and all that good stuff you do when you turn 21.  We finished off the night at the Raisin. We didn’t have any trouble getting up to the bar seeing as it was Thursday and we accounted for ¾ of the people in the place. I owe everyone for making it such a good time.

Made it golfing 3 times last week. Unfortunately it snowed last night, so my playing time will be severely limited this week.  On the flipside, because the temp’s usually around freezing, I can hang my groceries outside my window instead of putting them in the hall communal refrigerator where they always seem to get stolen.

I switched out of Scottish Pirates this week and into The Medieval Castle. Long story short, the Scottish History Library was only open for about 2-3 hours a day and the time of day it was open changed on a daily basis.  One of the main reasons I transferred out was because I was tired of planning my week around when I could go to the Scottish History Library. And while Scottish Pirates meets on Mondays, Medieval Castles meets on Thursday, so now I’ll have a lot more freedom to travel on the weekends.

I don’t know if that means I’m being a little pathetic and lazy, but I do know these are my last few months in Scotland and I want to be able to take advantage of opportunities other than class. Still just trying to live the dream.

Classes finally started this week. It was kind of hard to get back into things seeing as I haven’t actually been to class in about a month and a half.

On Monday afternoon, I had Scottish Pirates and Privateers. I’m not going to lie; I figured a class on pirates wasn’t going to be all that difficult, but it turns out it’s probably going to be one of the hardest classes I’ll take in college. At least it’s interesting material; I mean who doesn’t want to read about pirates, so I don’t mind doing the work – right now anyway.

I had my second class on Wednesday, Melanesian Anthropology. Supposedly it’s going to revolutionize the way I think about anthropology – thank god. Most of the anthropologists who studied Melanesia lived in 1900 so trying to decipher their century old intellectual lingo wasn’t exactly appealing. Hopefully this class is the anthropological revolution that the professor promised.

I officially applied to become and Asian Studies major on Friday. I was originally an Anthropology major but Anthro and I haven’t been vibing too well lately so I think the change was necessary. Now I’m an Asian Studies major, taking classes in Medieval History and Anthropology in the middle of Scotland. It all fits together so well.

Attempted to get out on the Old Course on Friday morning, but frost on the ground halted that venture. We ended up playing 9 holes on the Eden – the third time this week I have been on that course. I can’t complain though, I’m still playing golf in the middle of February. A little frost here and there isn’t the worst thing in the world.

I just got back from my 9 days in Central/ Eastern Europe – Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, and Prague. It was my most successful trip thus far in terms of actually seeing the sights and experiencing local culture. I’m getting pretty good at


the whole tourist thing, and I should be after making my way through 8 different countries since I’ve been abroad.

We spent the first part of the trip in Munich. On Monday, we went on a tour of the city – the tour guide was awesome, we seem to be pretty lucky with that. I’m now an expert on German history, the reign of the Nazis, and beer garden drinking etiquette. That night, we went for a liter of Munich’s finest at the Augustiner Braustuben, mostly because it was the cheapest of Munich’s 6 breweries.

Tuesday was spent at the Dachau Concentration Camp. It was one of the most if not the most humbling experience of my life. There I am in two shirts, a sweatshirt, and a jacket complaining to myself because we were outside for a half an hour in 10 degree weather, when our guide told us that in one instance, the prisoners were held outside in roll call formation for 17 hours in the same weather – they were wearing one pair of pants, one shirt, and a pair of sandals. Needless to say I sucked it up. I now check myself every time I complain because I realize I have a pretty damn good life.

We spent 5 hours in Salzburg on Wednesday on our way to Vienna. We conquered the city in 3 hours and spent the next



2 having a beer/ trying to warm up. It was the coldest day of the trip and the women who owned the place felt so bad for us, she gave us free food.

We were in Vienna from Wednesday night through Saturday morning. No free tours but we managed to see everything on the map that looked important. We did the whole tour of the Inner Ring, walked around the Shoenbrunn Palace because it was too expensive to go in, and saw Beethoven’s grave. Even managed to get into an opera one night, probably the last opera I will ever go to, but I was in Vienna so I figured why not. Most of my meals consisted of cheese sausages and kebabs and more good beer.

Prague was the last leg of the trip. We took another free tour, almost as good as the one in Munich. I was really surprised at the amount of history there is in Prague. I just figured it had nice buildings and good beer, but a few hundred years of political and religious unrest, and 10 years of Nazi control followed by another 40 years of Communist rule makes for a pretty interesting story. I was right about the buildings though, I’d say the nicest building design I’ve seen in Europe so far. Had a goulash for dinner a of couple nights just to round out the whole experience.

Our next trip to Amsterdam is in the works. We’re hoping to make it there in about a month.

Still working on finding two more classes for the beginning of second semester which starts next week. Hopefully there’s an epiphany in the next 3 days.

I’m writing this at 1:00am Scottish time (8:00pm EST), but it’s no biggie because I can wake up whenever I want tomorrow. That’s right, my final exams and my first semester at St. Andrews are finally over.

This weekend - 50 with a 100% chance of sun

I can’t say final exams were easy, especially without midnight breakfast and other study week festivities (Holy Cross people know what I’m talking about), but I made it out alive so life is good.

Next semester, I have Scottish Pirates and Privateers lined up as one of my classes, but I’m still on the hunt for another. Lucky for me, I have another 3 week break to figure it out. Actually I’ll only have about two weeks, because all of next week, I’ll be traveling around Eastern Europe.

I went to go see Avatar on Saturday. Usually I wouldn’t put something that insignificant in a post, but seeing as it revolutionized the way I will now watch movies, I figured it was worth noting.

I’m not much of a sci-fi guy, but I’m pretty sure even the harshest critic would appreciate it. James Cameron deserves

Last week's blizzard from my window

every award he gets. If you haven’t had a chance to see it (which is highly doubtful), go see it. And if you can, see it in IMAX. I saw it on the smallest movie screen in the world and it was still unbelievable, so I can only imagine how good it would be on a screen the size of a football field.

The snow finally melted and the sun actually made an appearance this weekend. I even got to play 9 holes on the Eden course. It was a pretty unpleasant sight, seeing as I haven’t hit a ball in 2 months, but it was great just to get out there.

This week doesn’t look like it’s going to be too eventful. It actually looks like a lot of sleeping and a lot of golfing, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I made it back to Scotland on Tuesday.  It was great to be home, and I’m glad I took advantage of the time to relax and see everyone.  At the beginning of the year, I hadn’t planned on making the trip home, but looking back, it was definitely a better decision than staying on the frozen tundra that is St. Andrews right now, having to cook my own food with the 10 people still left in the dorm.

Speaking of the weather, it’s about 20 degrees here and there’s 2 inches of snow on the ground.  If I were back in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, I wouldn’t think much of it, but this is the worst weather the UK has seen in 40 years, go figure. Not exactly prime weather for golfing, but other than that, it’s actually been a positive.  It’s given me motivation to stay inside and study for the finals I have next week – and it’s pretty much the only motivation.  I’m also pretty lucky because, unlike a lot of my friends here, my flight back wasn’t affected by the cold and snow.

My flight back to the States my have been one of the more hellish experiences of my life, but my trip back to Scotland was trouble-free. The Newark airport is still a pain, although I successfully navigated the 140 gates and three terminals this time, but I like having a layover there.  When you land and take off, you fly right over Times Square – it’s even better at night all lit up.  It’s kind of ironic, I’ve seen Times Square from a plane window 4 times and through a car window once, but I’ve never actually seen it on foot.

I mastered the whole international flight experience too: use a neck pillow and pass out (except for when they serve dinner).  It makes the whole 7 hour journey go by a lot faster.

Like I said, I have 2 finals next week, so the next 9 days will be spent hitting the books (if I stick to my plan).  After that, I have a good 3 weeks off.  A group of us are spending a week traveling through Eastern Europe: Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, so I have something to look forward to, something to get me through finals.  Hopefully the snow melts soon so I can get back out on the course.

I’ve been back in the States for about a week now.  The flight back may have been one of the worst traveling experiences I’ve ever had.  Snow delays, airport naps, missed connections, and navigating the Newark airport all made for one long and interesting 25 hours of travel.  I have to admit the 7 hour flight from Scotland to the US was a lot easier since there are TV’s in the back of the headrests.  And hey, I could’ve been the girl in front of me at the check-in counter who missed her connecting flight out of New Jersey and was therefore told she would need to camp out in the Newark airport for three days because there were no more flights to where ever she was going, and Continental Airlines couldn’t provide her accommodation.  Luckily I wasn’t.

Home has been great.  I was actually planning on going the full nine months of the school year without coming home, and then it hit me sometime in mid-November that that plan wasn’t going to work.  Anyways, I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas itself with my whole family.  It was a great time as always and there’s nothing better than seeing everyone after being on another continent for 3-4 months.  I also got to see a few friends from high school over the course of the week, and I made it down to a Holy Cross basketball game last night.  I met up with a few of my best friends from HC at the game, and I was able to see my friends on the team play for the first time this year.  I’ve seen just about everyone I needed to see, which will make going back for another 5 months a lot easier – and the fact that it’s Scotland.

I’ve started to get ready to head back.  There are a lot of things in the US that is really expensive in the UK, like Skippy, so I’m stocking my suitcase.  Because of the way our year is split up, I’ll be taking my first semester finals when I get back, but after those, I have 3 weeks of freedom which will hopefully be spent knocking off some of those New Year’s resolutions.   Hopefully the flight back to Scotland is a little smoother this time around.

Classes are officially over, and all of my work is finally turned in.  I took some time over the past few days to look back on the semester, and I realized that although I’ve been here for months, there’s still plenty of things I haven’t done.  Luckily, I’ll be back for another semester, unlike most study abroad students who are only here through Christmas (thank you Holy Cross for enforcing the whole year policy).  So here they are, my New Year’s/ second semester St. Andrew’s resolutions:

1. Go out more, stress about work less – Now that I’ve gauged the workload here at St. Andrews, it’s time I see less of my computer screen and more of the town.

2. Play the back 9 of the Strathtyrum Course – After I do this, I will  have officially played every hole on the St. Andrews links, thereby accomplishing my original goal of playing all 7 courses.

3. Money permitting,  rent and wear a kilt to the May Ball – enough said.

4. Travel to these countries/ cities

  • Amsterdam
  • Paris
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Dublin
  • Edinburgh – the only time Ive been there is when I’m flying out of the airport

5. Find out the name of the girl who works behind the bar at the Raisin – not only is she nice, casual conversation might lead to free drinks.

6. Go to the Bop at least twice – one must be on a Tuesday and the other on a Friday.

7. Walk the Pier on Sunday morning – usually this is done after church while wearing the famous red robe. I neither go to church nor have a robe, but I’m going to do the walk anyway.

8. Do well in my classes – if I don’t, this whole experience is a bust. Of course with classes like Scottish Pirates, I’m sure I’ll do fine.

9. Live the Dream

My flight back to the States is on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, it decided to snow in St. Andrew’s, and the rest of Scotland, this weekend – there goes the myth that it never snows here. Hopefully an inch or two won’t hold up my return.

The end of the semester that is… We only have about a week and a half left of class, which means all the work I’ve put off over the course of the semester needs to get done. That translates into a very ordinary week – didn’t do much other than go to class and write papers. Since I won’t be able to provide excitement via my usual great stories, I thought I’d provide a little entertainment instead. This is a Scottish band from right outside of Edinburgh, and only about 45 minutes from St. Andrews. I’ll bet most people have heard them before and hadn’t realized where they were from. Enjoy.

The Proclaimers – (I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles

I was able to walk on and play the Old Course again on Friday (it was 32 degrees F). Still a great experience no matter how cold it is and no matter how many times I play it. With Christmas in 3 weeks, there’s going to be some holiday related events going on over the course of the week, so hopefully I’ll be able to put the papers aside for a while and get festive.