Preparing for life in St Andrews.
Settling in

For most new students, moving to St Andrews is the start of a new life: the first time living away from home, and fending for yourself. It's therefore normal to have lots of questions, that might only seem obvious once you've lived here for a while.

This page contains information specific to St Andrews, covering important topics that are easy to overlook.

If you're a new student, check our Freshers' Hub for lots of info about St Andrews.

Getting around

The University runs a free night bus service every day during semester. This is a great way to get between halls and the Library or Union on nights out. The bus loops around the whole town, with stops including Morrisons supermarket, Ayton House, and most halls.

Lots of students buy a bike to get around St Andrews. There are bike racks at every hall, and all across the town centre.

Cycling tips
  • Bike lights and reflectors are a legal requirement after sunset. You could be fined if you cycle without suitable lights.
  • It's illegal to cycle on the pavement.
  • Wear a helmet, and bright clothing to increase your visibility.
  • Bicycle theft is not unheard of in St Andrews. Always lock your bike. Take a photo of the frame showing the serial number, so you can prove it's yours if stolen.
  • Cyclists must abide by the Highway Code. Make sure you are familiar with UK road signs.
  • It is illegal to cycle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Cyclists must follow one-way systems such as Market Street. However, there are sometimes exceptions for cyclists, such as Queen's Gardens.
  • Avoid cycling between the kerb and long vehicles; always stay in a visible position, and be wary of traffic approaching you from behind.
  • Clearly indicate with your arms when turning.

Register with a doctor

You should register with the local NHS medical practice, based at the Community Hospital approximately 20 minutes south of the town centre by foot. Find out how to do this on the University's health page.

The waiting time for an appointment is usually 2-3 weeks, but urgent appointments are available every day.

Students are free to register with either of the two practices at the Community Hospital; however, for administrative purposes you are encouraged to register according to your surname:


TSB, RBS, Barclays, Bank of Scotland, and Nationwide all have branches in St Andrews. You can compare their student bank accounts at Save the Student.

The University has guides for opening a bank account, tailored to both UK and international students.

The University's Money Advisers can provide confidential financial advice to students. You can ask them questions or make an appointment via [email protected]. They also manage the University's various hardship funds, which include the Discretionary Fund, Accommodation Awards, and Part-Time Fee Grant. You may also be able to borrow money from the University if you have a temporary cash flow problem.

Money Saving Expert has lots of tips for students.


Saints Sport is the University’s organisation for all things sport and physical activity. Alongside some of the best sports facilities in Scotland, there are over 50 clubs that you can join. Joining a club is a great way to meet new people and maintain your mental and physical health.

If a sports club isn't your thing, you can join the gym, take part in exercise classes, have a go at our recreational programme, or even get a personal trainer. See the full list of available fitness activities.

Other options around town include:

Academic families

A big part of life in St Andrews is academic families. Older students adopt freshers, and help guide them through university. Some families are only active for Freshers' Week and Raisin, whilst others continue beyond graduation.

Incoming freshers often worry about finding an academic family. However, there are lots of ways to meet potential parents, and third years are often desperate to find new kids.

Freshers' Week events run by societies and sports clubs are one of the best ways to find academic parents, but just as many people get adopted later in the semester. Our Wellbeing Subcommittee holds academic family matching events in semester one.

Raisin weekend

Raisin is one of the biggest traditions in St Andrews, so called because children traditionally gave their academic parents a pound of raisins as a thank you for welcoming them to the town.

The St Andrews academic family is unique, as it has always been passed organically from student to student. This means we all have a responsibility, as the only custodians of the tradition, to protect it for years to come. Always be respectful of others, and remember drinking in public is against the law in Scotland.

Raisin is about celebrating new lifelong friends, and taking part in a tradition that makes St Andrews different. It's not all about drinking, despite what some academic parents might think.

For information on Raisin safety, follow our Raisin Facebook page.

Typical Raisin schedule
  • Sunday
    • Morning: head to your parents' house for food and games with your family.
      • Parents often spend a lot of time and money to make Raisin a fun experience, so remember to bring them a gift.
      • Some parents might tell you to meet elsewhere, such as a beach, before going to their house.
      • Wherever you're told to meet, be on time. Parents might give punishments if you're late (or early).
    • Midday: go into town with your siblings for a scavenger hunt. In families with lots of kids, you'll probably be split into teams.
      • The scavenger hunt varies wildly between families, but common tasks include forming a human pyramid on the PH, or proposing to a stranger outside Northpoint.
    • Afternoon: head back to your parent's house for more food, games, and rest.
    • Evening: go to a party with your family.
    • Some kids have separate parents, who might have different plans for Raisin. It's best for these kids to discuss a schedule with their parents in advance. For example, they might go to one parent in the morning, and visit the other parent at 5pm.
  • Monday
    • 9am: head to your first parent's house (traditionally the mum). They will dress you up in a costume.
      • Parents: do not leave the creation of your kids' Raisin costumes until Monday morning. You won't impress anyone by dressing them up in bin bags.
    • 10am: head to your second parent's house (traditionally the dad). They will give you your Raisin receipt.
    • 11am:foam fight on Lower College Lawn. Enter via North Street, leaving your receipt at the entrance.
Raisin receipts

Traditionally, academic fathers would give their kids the Latin phrase below, written on parchment, to take to the foam fight. This is known as a Raisin receipt. Over time, unusual objects have taken the place of parchment, but the phrase has stayed the same:

Ego civis [name of parent], tertianus/a [third year] or magistrandus/a [fourth year] huius celeberrimae universitatis Sancti Andreae, qui [father's degree] studeo, a te [child's name], meo/a bejanto/ina carissimo/a qui [child's degree] studeat, unam libram uvarum siccarum accepisse affirmo pro qua multas gratias tibi ago.

Your Raisin receipt should be safe: oversized, electrical, stolen, or otherwise illegal receipts will be confiscated, and both parents and kids may face disciplinary action.

Note that all receipts will be thrown away on the way into the foam fight. If you would like to keep a receipt, ask a parent to look after it before you enter.

Look after each other, and don't be afraid to ask your friends and academic family for help. Check Talk to Someone for emergency contacts. There will also be a water station outside the Union on Raisin Sunday.