Jacqueline Saltarelli '15

Hello! So as I have been reflecting on my experiences abroad, I thought I would post a blog to all of the future St. Andrews Study Abroad Students! A few of you have reached out to me and some other of my friends from St. Andrews. Here is a list of things that we wish we had known when we were studying abroad at St. Andrews. Hope this helps you!!

  1. Your advisor, Professor Margaret Connolly (who is incredibly sweet), is going to have a bunch of things that you all can use in your bedrooms that every HC Study Abroad group passes down. There are things like hangers, bed spreads, towels, desk/office supplies, hair dryers, curling irons, laundry detergent, etc. So when you meet her for the first time, she will have a bunch of these things! Don’t buy all of these things when you first arrive because they can get expensive and you can get them for free!
  2. When you are booking your flight, you need to figure out a plan to get from the airport to St. Andrews. We recommend booking a seat on a St. Andrews Shuttle. It is only £18 and drops you off right in front of your residence hall. Here’s the website: http://www.standrewsshuttle.com
  3. The term JYA means “Junior Year Abroad.” People who are here for the semester are “JSAs” (Junior Semester Abroad). You will define yourself as a “JYA.” So in context: “Oh no, I’m not a JSA, I am a JYA. Can’t wait to spend my whole year here!”
  4. You will have to do an ICIP (Independent Cultural Immersion Project), when you arrive. Basically, you have to find a way to immerse yourself in the St. Andrews culture. I personally recommend joining a society (a club) on campus. This helps you meet SO many students who go here regularly and they are so much fun. I’ve had some of my most rewarding experiences with students who go here and it was all thanks to me joining the Charities Campaign for my ICIP. There is a society fayre (club fair), at the beginning of the year where all of the clubs on campus have a booth. Definitely check it out-there are so many ways to get involved!
  5. There is a restaurant named Forgans that has a Ceilidh every Friday and Saturday night. A Ceilidh is a traditional Scottish dance and they are SO much fun. You learn the dance as you go. And they are really easy and you don’t have to be a good dancer. Go as early in the year as you can because they are a blast and a great way to meet people!
  6. Every Monday night at 8:00 pm in Barron Theater, an improv group called Blind Mirth performs. They are all students and they are absolutely hilarious. And the shows are free! Get there early to get a good seat. This is a must do!
  7. You will go to a bunch of cafes in town. You need to go to the Old Union Cafe (which is right near Sally’s Quad). The food is soooo good and it is also really cheap. And the ladies who work there are lovely (we all became regulars. Ask them about the girls who always ate the chocolate cake).
  8. You will probably get frustrated at least once with the way the University works at the beginning of the year (especially for class registration). Just know that you are doing the best you can and that things here are slower and sometimes take longer. You will get used to it and grow to like it.
  9. There is an incredibly beautiful park/walking path in St. Andrews called Lade Braes (that I blogged about before). Some people don’t even know it exists but its huge and so nice to walk through. Great for a nice run on a sunny day!
  10. Join the Study Abroad Society. They do a bunch of trips around Fife and Scotland and you get to meet other students who are studying abroad.
  11. There is a travel agent called AskClair4Travel who offers really cheap trips to London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Belfast. She also has really cheap airport shuttles if you need.
  12. USE public transportation. The bus system is great. If you want to go to Edinburgh or Glasgow, the cheapest way to go is to take a bus. Show your student ID and you get a discount. The train is also nice but you have to take a bus or taxi to get to it because it is 15 minutes outside of town. The taxi ride plus the train ticket is way more money than the bus ticket. The bus station is right in town.
  13. Go to the Edinburgh Christmas Markets in December during Revision. And get nutella crepes!
  14. Participate in all of the St. Andrews University traditions such as Raisin Weekend, the May Dip, etc!
  15. There are a bunch of balls in St. Andrews, so bring some fancy dresses or suits! The balls are so much fun and a lot of the time the money raised goes to a great cause. Some great (and cheap) balls include the Dance Society ball and Big Top Ball! And another tip: a ball more than £25 is expensive and you can go to cheaper ones.
  16. Holy Cross Study Abroad gives you $200 in activities fees. Make sure you use this money to join societies! If your society you join is free, use that money for a gym membership. There are a ton of really fun fitness classes as well as access to the gym for free! It was so worth it (Make sure you do Zumba classes with Neha!)

Let me know if you have any questions about St. Andrews next year! Get ready for an amazing experience. Can’t wait to tell you all about my experiences this summer, but that’s next blog 🙂

Until then,

Jackie x


Well everyone, my year at St. Andrews has come to an end. And what an incredible experience it was. I have been dreading posting this blog because I honestly don’t think there are enough words to sum up how great of an experience this past year has been. And then I remembered that right before I left, I was given a journal by a friend I had made at St. Andrews, who reminded me to use that journal to continue to record all of my adventures. So as I flew back home, towards my new adventure to the States, to my job as a Program Coordinator or Gateways Orientation at Holy Cross, to my senior year, and to the rest of my life, I wrote about what my year abroad had given me. This is what I wrote on the plane ride home, what I took away from my year, and what I want to record on my blog to always remember:

“I’m flying home from studying abroad for the year. I haven’t had any time to process the fact that I’ve just spent a year discovering who I am, and now I’m heading home. I was in such a different place when I started this year. Being abroad made me realize a few important and crucial lessons. First, life isn’t planned. Be spontaneous and do what feels right. Go with your heart and take the time to reflect on your emotions. In the future, there will be many moments in your life when you have no direction or no idea what is right. Make a decision; even if you aren’t 100% sure, you will realize what you really want after making a choice. Second, never hold yourself back. Go to that movie alone or go volunteer somewhere you’ve never been. Do what you know feels right and don’t stop yourself. And don’t hold anyone else back from pursuing their dreams. Finally, be willing to be vulnerable. Life is so much more rewarding when you open yourself up and take a risk you were unwilling to take. So as you embark on this new step and adventure in your life, always remember to be happy, calm, passionate, and free. Strive to be happy and to always thrive.”

That’s what my year abroad gave me. And for that, I will always be grateful.

Until next time, cheerio, St. Andrews!

Jackie xxx


Hi Everyone!!

I haven’t been able to post in a while! In addition to Big Top Ball, I had two essays due that were each 50% of my grade. So I have been focusing on that.

I wanted to tell you that Big Top Ball was a huge success!! The event was so much fun and was definitely the best ball I went to at St. Andrews. Here are some pictures:




I’m almost done with my year here at St. Andrews! This has been the most rewarding year of my entire life. And seeing how successful Big Top Ball was ended up being a perfect way to begin to wrap up my year here.

Talk to you very soon!



My current Facebook Cover Photo advertising Big Top Ball!

Hi Everyone!

Most people who go abroad are required to do an ICIP (Independent Cultural Immersion Project). These projects range from learning how to play golf, joining an orchestra, or even joining a club. For my ICIP, I knew I wanted to combine fundraising and event planning (and basically continue what I love to do at Holy Cross like CAB and Relay for Life). So I joined the Charities Campaign!

The Charities Campaign at St. Andrews raises money throughout the year for three main charities: Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), Macmillan Cancer Support, and Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre Fife. They have a lot of fundraisers throughout the year, but the one that I am mainly working on is Big Top Ball.

The main Big Top Ball poster that has gone up all over St. Andrews!

The main Big Top Ball poster that has gone up all over St. Andrews!

The “Ball” culture is big here – everyone loves getting dressed up for big events. Big Top Ball is a circus themed ball, which means that the ball will literally take place in circus tents! I’m helping organize logistics for the event. (There wouldn’t be a stage, dance floor, and lighting if it wasn’t for me!!!). The ball takes place on April 12th and I am getting excited. There are going to be about 750 people there who will be enjoying circus games, tons of different music acts, different types of entertainment, and tons of food!

Students at St. Andrews go all out with advertising. We have profile pictures and cover photos on Facebook specifically advertising for the event. Each big event/organization has a website. Click here for the Big Top Ball website! Soon all of the committee pictures are going to go up (potentially with a red clown noses…). We also had a carnival photo shoot to start advertising. Closer to the date, we will have videos going up to get people excited about the ball!  St. Andrews has a website called Bubble-TV which is like a St. Andrews online TV station. It has videos with everything happening at St. Andrews. If you are studying abroad here next year, or are just interested in what is happening at St. Andrews, you should totally check it out. Videos are up from the Fashion Show, Mr. St. Andrews, and even Big Top Ball from last year! Click here for the Bubble TV Website!

Its been so much fun to be a part of organizing a ball here at St. Andrews.


photo-5Well I am officially on my two week Spring Break! The first week I am spending in St. Andrews, working away at two essays and my thesis proposal.

But in the second week, I am going to Munich and Austria! I am flying into Munich. We’re staying there for two days and then we are taking a train to Salzburg. Yes, we are going on the Sound of Music Tour. And then when we head to Vienna, we are going to see an opera. (One that I studied way back when in my “From Opera to Broadway” class!). And we are also doing so many more things that I can’t wait to share with you!

The weather has in the 50’s lately and sunny! The other day I was relaxing in the grass, soaking up sun. Here’s a pic. Can’t wait to share my adventures with you!


My entire month of March is jam packed.

During the first week of March, two of my friends from Holy Cross, Taylor and Vania, came to visit me during spring break! It was a blast. They were even here to celebrate my birthday.

Now I am spending the next two weeks working on two huge papers and a thesis proposal for next year! I am really excited to begin working on a proposal for my honors thesis for the College Honors program and also for the Sociology Honors Program. This semester, I am submitting a proposal which will hopefully get approved. If it does, then over the summer I will be doing research for the thesis, and then next year I have to analyze my research and write it up! I love my topic and my advisor (Prof. Francis of the sociology department) so I’m excited. Maybe after it is approved I will tell you more about it.

Then, my friend Amanda and I are heading to Austria for a week during our spring break! I’m SO excited for that!

And then it is April. I can’t believe how quickly this semester is flying by. In April, a ball I have been helping organize called Big Top Ball is coming up. I’ll blog about that next time.

Talk to you soon!


P.S. It is 50 degrees outside right now. And it is sunny. Jealous?

I had begun to crave the sun. So when the sun came out for three days, I knew I had to embrace it. What better way to embrace the sun than exploring St. Andrews?


DAY 1: I took my bike into town and got a few errands done. Checking things off a list is always a great feeling. And then I found myself with a free afternoon! I rode my bike to St. Andrew’s Cathedral. I’ve been here before, but walking through it on a sunny day was simply breathtaking. There are some paths you can go on that are near the beach, so I walked along them, happily. It gave me time to sit and reflect on the last few weeks here at St. Andrews and inspired me to go see a movie by myself.  Got myself some popcorn and saw Dallas Buyers Club (which I loved and recommend to everyone). Here are some pictures of day 1!



DAY 2:


I woke up, opened my curtains, and it was sunny and warm! I decided that I was going to go for a bike ride. I took my bike and instead of making the typical left turn into town, I went right! I explored the outskirts of St. Andrews. As I was riding, I stumbled upon this small path with a map. I got off my bike and began walking on the Lade Braes Walk. To all you future St. Andrews study abroad students, this is something you must do. The whole path is completely beautiful, and you wouldn’t even know it existed if you just spent your days in town or in DRA. As you walk along the path, you follow a beautiful river, walk by some mills, small ponds, parks, and more. It is literally the most beautiful part of St. Andrews and I just discovered it!


DAY 3:


I took my friend to Lade Braes and we discovered an offshoot that would lead us to the St. Andrews Botanical Gardens. Everyone has to go there at some point as well – its beautiful!

So there we go. Even when you think you know everything about the place you live in, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Have a sunny day!



You know that feeling when you are enjoying the fact that it is about 45-50 degrees outside and that seems to be the perfect temperature, and then it starts pouring rain? Your natural instinct is to speed up to get to where you’re going faster. So you start speeding up. And then you realize that the faster you walk, the harder the rain is hitting you, which means you are getting more wet. So you slow down and just walk again, even though you know you’re going to be walking for another 15 minutes. And rarely, you begin to actually appreciate the fact that you are getting soaked and there is nothing you can do about it. So you just begin to think.

As I walked home from the library tonight in the pouring rain (at a regular pace), I began thinking about my “perspective.”

First, I realized that my perspective on life has changed quite a bit in the last few years, which I suppose is natural as you get older. But I realized tonight how startled I am by this dramatic change in my “perspective.” The jump from high school to college changed my perspective. And my first two years at Holy Cross dramatically changed my perspective. And now that I’m abroad, my perspective has changed once again.

Here’s what has happened. I would say that I started Holy Cross fairly ignorant to a greater, more worldly perspective. (And I’m certainly not claiming that I am now all of a sudden worldly or have a perfect perspective, because I don’t). Over time, Holy Cross slowly introduced me to bits and pieces of perspective, starting with my Montserrat class with Professor Dustin. Our class was called Freedom, Meaning, and Desire. I remember learning about Plato and Socrates, and beginning to understand the whole idea that “all I really know is that I know nothing” and that knowledge was one of the keys to a meaningful life (in addition to Happiness, of course. Right Professor Dustin?).

This class was a defining point in my Holy Cross experience/in my life. It made me realize that I was interested in learning, and it pushed me to pursue other outlets of learning such as doing summer orientation, spring break immersion, the chaplain’s office retreats, and CAB. And through my experiences in all of these activities, I began to learn about the importance of connecting with others and learning about their stories and experiences. And learning and understanding a person’s story has made me ask myself: who am I? Who do I want to become? Who shall I be for others?

So as I am beginning to ponder these questions, and really feel like I’m “beginning to know” the things that “I knew nothing of,” I hop on a plane to Scotland, and find myself literally living my life from a totally different perspective. So now I’m walking home in the pouring rain, realizing that although I have learned so much in the last few years, Socrates is still right, and “all I really know is that I know nothing!”

The difference is that when I was a freshman, I thought I could somehow overcome “knowing nothing.” Now that I am abroad, I am realizing that we can all learn new perspectives every single day. There is no way we will ever be completely aware of everything. We need to embrace everyone’s perspectives, differences, and cultures instead of clinging to our own. We also can’t get frustrated with those who are unable to “embrace” everyone’s perspectives because maybe they believe that they can overcome “knowing nothing.”

I used to get so worked up about the little things. But now that I’m abroad, I have really realized that getting worked up about little things is a complete waste of valuable time to be learning and growing in knowledge. And knowledge stems from getting to know the people you are surrounded by, whether it is the middle aged Scottish couple you chatted with while you were on a walk by yourself, or the ladies in the cafe you frequent for lunch who sometimes sneak you an extra piece of chocolate cake because they know you’re a regular.

When I started writing this particular blog post, I was really frustrated with my “perspective.”  I felt like had lost it. I needed to reflect and now I’m “good.” I feel like I once again “understand” my perspective. I guess I have Professor Dustin to blame/thank. So shout out to Professor Dustin. If anyone has the opportunity to take a philosophy class with him, I highly recommend it. There are so many people at Holy Cross who I want to thank for helping me grow, so one of these days I’ll blog about you too.

Talk to you soon,



So many sophomores are finding out that they are going abroad! Congratulations! Being abroad has been incredibly rewarding. Having had some time to reflect, I have a few tips for you that the Study Abroad office doesn’t necessarily talk about.

Reflecting on Abroad!

Reflecting on Abroad!

1. Recognize why you are going abroad. This is probably the most important thing I’ve learned. Something I didn’t realize while going abroad was that everyone goes abroad for different reasons. It seems obvious, but you don’t realize how that will affect your own experience. Each reason is perfectly acceptable, but not everyone’s reason lines up with your own.

Start your year by asking everyone you are with why they went abroad in the first place. You will hear: “I really want to travel.” “I want as many passport stamps as possible.” “I want to figure out who I am.” “I want to embrace the culture I am living in.” “I want to become close to a host family.” And many more reasons. Recognizing why YOU wanted to go abroad will help remind you to get what you want out of your own experience. And don’t let anyone stop you. If one of your best friends wants to hang out with their host family and travel around the country they live in and you want to travel the world, go travel the world! Find another travel buddy. Don’t let anyone hold you back. Live your life.

2. How do you want to travel? When you decided that you wanted to go to Rome for the weekend, did you want to check out all the museums? Did you want to eat spaghetti and cannolis? Did you want to relax and stroll around and go where you were inspired? Did you want to shop? EVERYONE has a different idea of why they are traveling. Make sure their idea lines up with yours, otherwise you can find yourself frustrated. Go with people who want to do the same thing as you, and you will find yourself more relaxed while you are doing it.

3. Budget your money. Did I realize how much I would need to budget myself when I went abroad? Nope! That has been quite the adjustment. Be prepared to spend money because living in the UK and Europe is more expensive than living in the US.

As you budget yourself, also be aware of how much money everyone else around you in spending. Some people you are with will not have as much money as you, and some will have way more than you. Be kind and sensitive, as money can be stressful for people.

Additionally, traveling with someone who has much more/less money than you can make your experience very different than you anticipated. If you were in Rome on a budget but your friend is expecting 5 star hotels and restaurants, you will find yourself in a dilemma. Discuss budgets before and figure out how you want to travel (look above!).

4. See sunshine in the rain. (This can be interpreted both literally and metaphorically). Being in a place where it rains continually, it is so important to stay positive and remember your sense of fun and excitement. You are abroad! Live your life. Do what you need to do. And don’t let anyone hold you back, no matter what the weather.

5. Embrace adventure. When you always go left to go to town, turn right. You never know what you will find! And you will be rewarded. Being adventurous and spontaneous does wonders to the psyche.

6. BE AN INDIVIDUAL, even in culture shock. On the Holy Cross Study Abroad website, they have a link discussing the Four Stages of Your Experience Abroad. Read it because I found it very helpful and I experienced each stage! Everyone experiences culture shock differently. In many Holy Cross study abroad programs, students are with other Holy Cross students. The other Holy Cross students will have many similar experiences as you while you are abroad, so be sure to talk to them. Some of my good friends I have made here are from Holy Cross. It is important to remember that no one adjusts to abroad in the same way. Some people miss home, some people don’t, some people hate the food, some people don’t, etc. If you start to become frustrated, remember to recognize that everyone is in a different place than you. And that’s cool and part of the experience. BUT because of this, do not hold yourself back from experiencing abroad a certain way because other people can be at a different “stage” in their experience. Whether you realize it or not, when you signed up to study abroad, you also signed up to become an individual. You signed up to learn a lot about who you are. Don’t let anyone else affect your learning about yourself!

Working at the Old Union Cafe

Alone time at the Old Union Cafe!

7. Learn to love being alone. This is a continuation of number 6, but as an individual who is abroad, you will find times when you are alone. At St. Andrews, I have class for a total of 6 hours a WEEK. This gives me a lot of time to do what I want. Being by myself has been wonderful. Some people don’t like being by themselves. It was an adjustment at first going from Holy Cross where I was constantly busy, constantly seeing people, constantly working, to all of a sudden having nothing to do on Wednesdays and Fridays! LOVE THE ALONE TIME! You finally have the chance to work on yourself, journal, do whatever you like to do. Just last week I went to see a movie by myself-and let me tell you, I had so much fun. Being by yourself allows you to meet other people and talk to them. Its so cool! If I was with friends, would I have learned the name of the woman (Katie) who gave me the popcorn and talked to her for a while? Also recognize that some people who you are abroad with will struggle with the fact that there is more alone time. Be sensitive to them, but also remember that it is ok to be alone. There is a difference between being alone, and being lonely.

8. Talk to strangers. Your parents have told you a million times not to talk to strangers. Mine have told me a billion times. But there is a difference between not talking to a creepy guy late at night on an empty street and not talking to the ladies who work at your favorite cafe that you go to every day! I’ve become a regular at the Old Union Cafe in town, and I know all of the women who work there. If they see me walk in, they start making the sandwich even before they order because they know what I’m going to get. Getting to know them has been wonderful, and has made me realize that you can make friends just about anywhere! I’ve talked to people on trains, students in town, other people waiting in line, cashiers, etc. Talking to strangers and hearing their stories is incredibly eye opening. Everyone’s story is very powerful and can help you live your own life in a certain way. Most people want to talk, and listening to someone’s story will make that person happy, and you happy.

9. Be bold. You are ABROAD and you are most likely somewhere between 19 and 21. You are an adult, so own it. Don’t be shy, don’t be nervous, and don’t care about what other people think of you! This is your experience so just do you 😉 There is no reason for you to not do things because of what other people think! Love yourself and your boldness.

10. Thank your parents. In one way or another, they are the reason you are going abroad. So thank them every day. They love hearing from you, too. (If you have an iPhone or a computer with a camera, FaceTime/Skype them! They want to see your face, plus its free and you don’t have to spend money to talk to them!).

My Postcard Collection!

My Postcard Collection!

11. Send postcards to your friends, and yourself.  Who doesn’t love a personalized postcard saying how you are and where you’ve been? Its wonderful to get something in the mail, and its usually a surprise. Surprise your family and friends, it will make their day! Also, send yourself postcards. That might seem weird, but trust me, its such a cool souvenir. If you travel, write yourself a postcard and send it to yourself. Write about memories or an experience or feeling you are having at that moment. Then a few weeks later you will get it in the mail! Having a collection of your favorite designed postcards and how you were feeling in certain moments while traveling is an awesome way to look back. Plus it will make for a pretty cool decoration for your apartment your senior year 😉

12. If you are on the year abroad, own that full year. I was incredibly nervous to do a full year abroad, but it really is true what they say. The first semester is an adjustment and the second semester is fun! When you come back for your second semester, you will find yourself established and happy because you finally have time to enjoy being abroad instead of adjusting to the culture shock. Don’t be nervous, I promise you will get to a point in your second semester where you will be so thankful that you stayed to embrace the experience.

This blog ended up being much longer than I anticipated, but I mean every word of it. If anyone has any questions about being abroad, feel free to e-mail me!

Have a lovely day,



Whenever I go somewhere, I take a panorama picture. I now realized that I am beginning to have a pretty nice collection of these pictures. It is such a nice way to remember everywhere I have been, especially while I’m abroad.

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to share some pictures of the “City of Love”?!  These are my panorama pictures from my adventures in Paris and London. Each has a little description. I’m definitely going to take more and post them periodically. Enjoy!


The Louvre Museum in Paris! We went at night and found out that students get in for free. The Louvre is beautiful by day, magical by night.



The River Seine and the Eiffel Tower in the background!



More of the River Seine. You can walk right next to the river! It honestly reminded me of the movie Ratatouille when Remi is running right next to the river and he first meets Linguini! Haha



A view of the Notre Dame Cathedral!



I took this picture while walking across the Tower Bridge in London!



After reading plenty of Shakespeare in High School, I had to visit the Globe Theater! It was even better than I imagined.



Trafalgar Square in London!



Considering Prince William went to St. Andrews, I HAD to visit Buckingham Palace while I was in London. And I saw the Queen!…Kidding. But that’s what everyone asks when you tell them you visited Buckingham Palace.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!