Andrea Saint: Cultural learnings of America

Hello again, Upper East Fifers. I am back with your one and only source into the scandalous lives of the American College elite. Spotted: The strange British girl, known as […]

Hello again, Upper East Fifers. I am back with your one and only source into the scandalous lives of the American College elite. Spotted: The strange British girl, known as ‘Hermione’, has somehow avoided deportation and has almost completed her first semester of American college. Has she been re-born in the USA? Or is she sick of the stars and stripes?



Even though four months have passed, I still learn something new every day that continues to perplex and fascinate me about America, making me feel much like how the great discoverers Christopher Columbus and Borat must have felt when they first set foot in the New World. The phrase ‘America and Britain are two nations divided by a common language’, first coined by Shaw, Wilde or Churchill, aptly describes the main lesson I have learnt on my journey thus far. Yet my mission as ambassador to strengthen the relationship between these two great nations is temporarily on hold (sorry for partying) as I continue to enjoy the delights that American college life has to offer and learn more valuable lessons along the way.
Things I have accomplished in the last few months: I gave thanks for the first time by eating my body weight in pie and turkey, thus doing my bit to increase America’s obesity levels; I got sent to the Dean of Students who mistook me for a poor little freshman who had been ‘hazed’ by my sorostitutes; I finally turned legal, and despite being able to get into bars since I got here due to the American bouncers reading the date backwards on my English ID, it was still fun to legally shotgun my first Four Loko; I was officially initiated into my sorority, took my vows for secrecy and loyalty, and had my very own debutante style formal where we were ‘presented’; AND finally, I have never done so much work in my entire life, and as finals approach I am still seriously considering dropping out of school and starting a new life in Mexico.


For the record, I have also managed to completely convince some less-worldly Americans that everything I do is posh and classy because I am British (if only they knew I was born and bred in the UK’s equivalent of New Jersey) and that being a student of St Andrews does in fact make me a distant relation of Will and Kate. Also, being an exemplary ambassador of the University of St Andrews, I have acquired myself an academic son who is transferring there next year, and you will be pleased to know we already have established that special oedipal relationship in preparation for Raisin 2012.


Despite the sickening workload and compulsory classes, I have still managed to completely humiliate myself most weekends with my beloved pagan cult (sorority) in the name of immersing myself into American college culture. I have discovered it is not anything like the new E4 reality TV show ‘Sorority Girls’ (if you haven’t seen this, watch it now), and apart from the excessive chanting and wearing of white, real sororities are more like drinking clubs than finishing schools.


To support my case and save my street cred, but mainly because I’m bored and should be revising for an exam, I shall share with you some hilariously shameful experiences I have had with my non-biological sisters. One of the best was an amazing week of inebriation called ‘clue week’ – think extended Raisin weekend without the foam. During this time, your ‘big sister’ in the sorority sneakily sends you presents, alcohol and tasks (via sexy men) that you must complete every day. The tasks were top secret, but may or may not have included taking numerous shots in the library by the Dewey Decimal system, and being shoved into a car and driven to a house where a sex party occurred (where surprisingly I have never been covered in so much lube in my life).


As the semester continued, I learned more valuable lessons about this fascinating culture, and had horrific experiences such as the infamous ‘My Tie’ date party. This is where you are secretly set up with a random guy by your sisters and given their tie which you wear over your dress so that the owner of the tie can track you down and be your date for the night. I’m sorry, but could there possibly be a recipe for a more awkward evening? I was prepared for the worst, a complete nerd/rapist who I’d either have make painful small talk with for the rest of the night or be forced to get jiggy with ‘pon the dance floor. In order to be set up, we were asked to write down our ideal man, and needless to say when I received my tie I knew my requests had not been fulfilled. After excessively psychoanalysing the green, patterned Vineyard Vines tie before me, I concluded he was going to be a complete bro and that a night full of beer pong and grinding was on the menu. So basically a standard night at a St Andrews’ pre-game and ending up in the Lizard.


Despite being irritated that his tie completely clashed with my dress, the evening was a complete success, and green tie boy and I have been happily dating ever since. JUST KIDDING. Overwhelmed by awkwardness, I got a bit too carried away with the sweet tea vodka, and being the shy and refined girl that I am ended up telling my date I was in love with him, then went in for a cheeky snog but ended up vomming on him and his poor tie. I woke up the next day with a bleeding foot and covered in sick and shame, vowing I would never be set up on another blind date/ever leave my room again. He apparently thought it was both terrifying and hilarious and is now of the opinion that British ‘chicks’ are completely wild and insane. Yeah, like he was the first person to notice that. The poor guy needs to take a trip to a creepy clubbing destination on a European island/in Essex.


Another enlightening situation of American college culture I have experienced is receiving an invitation to a fraternity’s fall formal. As the guy was a footballer and I needed an excuse to buy a new dress I thought why not, it may even be fun. HOW WRONG I WAS. The boy had forgotten to inform me of a tiny insignificant detail, that the word ‘formal’ does not necessarily mean an elegant soiree us St Andreans are used to. His formal was in fact an overnight camping excursion, which he had just ‘forgotten to mention’. I thought things couldn’t get worse than the ‘My Tie’ date party disaster, so was looking forward to a night all dressed up and dancing away drinking G&Ts.


Instead, I was dressed in plaid (to give the illusion I was outdoorsy) awkwardly erecting a tent at a ranch in the middle of the woods with a random guy who I was not attracted to at all and who clearly thought he was getting lucky that night. The highlight of my evening was losing my ‘s’mores’ virginity, getting tipsy enough to be numb from the cold and winning an epic rap battle. Other than that, sleeping on cowshit in the freezing cold with an absolutely twatted enormous man telling me to ‘turn around and spoon’ was not the most fun I have had since being in America, but it certainly was an experience.


As much as I love it here, I long to return back to England for Christmas, for a slice of normality and a strong drink from an actual glass – not a red cup – and to prepare myself for the excitements of next semester. Happy Holidays!



And who am I? Some of you have tried guessing, and failed miserably. That’s a secret I’ll never tell. You know you love me.



Xoxo, Andrea Saint, bystander writer