The University of St. Andrew’s is 600 years old this year.
600 years. That’s the third oldest university in the UK, coming in after Oxford and Cambridge. That means that when St. Andrew’s was established in 1413, Europe was just emerging from the Dark Ages. The university I now attend is one of the institutions that helped pull the UK out of the Middle Ages and into the Modern.
This weekend has been a huge celebration of the university’s past. Various famous people, such as Hilary Clinton and Jane Goodall, have received honorary degrees and given stirring addresses. There have been panel discussions and celebratory services.
Tonight, the festivities culminated in a torchlight walk down to the famous pier, and a spectacular fireworks display. (My photos really don’t do it justice, but I’ll provide some anyway)
The fireworks were amazing. It wasn’t just the brilliant light show, or how the colours gleamed off the water, or how I could feel the stone beneath me shaking with each blast. It wasn’t just the torchlight, or the bagpipers, or the Chariots of Fire music playing in the background. It was the knowledge that 600 years of history and learning had happened right here, and I was a part of it. I, the exchange student from Canada, who didn’t even know what St. Andrew’s was a year ago, was a part of this amazing celebration.
It’s wonderful to be here, with the cobbled streets and the arches and the crumbling ruins. They’re a constant reminder of the past, of a different era. They’re a connection to all the people, so long dead, who lived and worked and studied right here.
I think we need to take more time to remember all the people who lived before us. The people who built the castles that are now crumbling, or who settled the cities we now live in, or who founded the universities that are now celebrating 600 years.
Tonight, for me at least, was about connection to the past. It was about respecting the people who began the traditions, and thanking God for his blessing over the centuries. It was about celebrating St. Andrew’s illustrious heritage, and looking forward to the future. And I was so honoured that a little English major from Canada could be a part of it all.