Human Origins Essay

submitted finally! This essay taps into the recent biological advancements made in genetics and its application to the early days of our species.  This has been my favorate module  in semester one of my first year at the univercity of southampton and has allowed me to make good use of my biology A-level.

I’m not saying this is a particularly good essay (I’ve almost certainly made many errors) but I found it so interesting to write and read about that that I had to share what I learnt.

Assess the contribution that DNA has made to our understanding of when modern humans (i.e. Homo sapiens) spread out of Africa and what routes they took?

Recent advances in genetic technology have illuminated the time and space Homo sapiens travelled through when leaving Africa.  The ‘Out of Africa’ theory has been widely accepted because of overwhelming genetic evidence; now the question of how and when our species left the continent is being deciphered through a range of genetic testing.  Pushing biology to the extremities of possibility, current research has led to the remapping of the route taken by our ancestors.  Whether this migration occurred as singular or multiple events is widely disputed.  The handful of possible escape route out of Africa has been explored through the comparison of haplogroups in mtDNA lineages. DNA evidence shows a gradual decrease in genetic diversity as the distance from Africa increases.  Genetic analysis has been the most significant contribution in our understanding of this first migration out of Africa.

The 1987 study of mtDNA variation by Cann et al. set a president for the study of archaeogenetics and effectively re-wrote the theory of early modern expansion by disproving the ‘Multiregional Hypothesis’.  The benefit of analysing mitochondrial DNA is that it is non-recombining, only passed on from mother to child; its application in genetic history is therefore more substantiated then nucleotide DNA that is prone to greater variety and mutation.  By tracking the maternal line an original Cann’s study established a “Mitochondrial Eve”. She has been dated back to around 150,000 years and was argued to have given rise to 134 mitochondrial haploid types (Cann 1987).  The work was heavily criticised due to issues in method and computer programming but has since been proven essentially accurate in its conclusions.  These conclusions provided strong support for the ‘Out of Africa’ or ‘single-origin model’ by establishing a single hypothetical ancestor that originated in sub-Saharan Africa who that spread out of the continent 100,000 years ago and replaced all other Homo populations. This infers that only a select few ventured out of Africa; here we can see the restricted variation in Haploid groups as a result of a founder effect whereby a small population has gone on to colonise the rest of the world. There has been evidence that as few as ten “daughters” make up the mitochondrial lineages within modern European populations (Gusar 2004).  One of the prominent points of evidence is the similar age between the three main haplogroups in Eurasia M,N and R ; this indicates they were part of the same colonisation (Macaulay et al. 2005).

By comparing mtDNA variety between populations of modern humans and our “Cousins” the chimpanzee, Cann was able to establish a significant lack of variety within modern populations (Cann 1987). The existence of a small pioneering expedition of Homo sapiens who ventured out of Africa 100,000 years ago has now been conclusively accepted; this is largely due to irrefutable genetic evidence.  The study of nuclear DNA, especially of strand CD4 locus on chromosome 12 (Tishkoff et al. 1996), has shown a different variety of mutations in Africa whilst having a heavily restricted variation throughout the rest of the world. This supports the ‘Out of Africa’ theory and posits that non-African descendants originated from a small pioneering group that left Africa at a maximum age of 102,000 years ago given the inferred date of initial mutation (Tishkoff et al 1996).

The contribution of DNA in establishing an approximate date of dispersal, to the point where a few thousand years can be argued either way is one of the greatest archaeological advances of our time.  Our understanding of when this occurred allowed us to irrevocably disprove the traditional ‘Multiregional Hypothesis’ of human evolution and forgo some of the polycentric ideas that became associated with it – disproving the idea of ‘race’.  Analysis of Nuclear DNA has gone a long way in our understanding of the flow of genetics across the world.  Evidence of a restricted genetic pool in the initial colonisation of the world outside of Africa insinuates the occurrence of the founder’s effect or potentially a genetic bottleneck where diversity is heavily restricted.  The evidence resulting from the complete mapping of the Human genome in 2004 emphasised greater variation within sub-Saharan populations than the rest of the world; there was no exodus out of Africa.

Work in the 1980-90’s almost exclusively debated the plausibility of the two main models of human global colonisation however the discussion has turned towards the more intricate task of understanding the relationship between our genetic ancestry and demographic history (Groucutt et al. 2015). The movement of Homo sapiens out of Africa lies at the cusp of scientific possibility; advances in our technical capabilities have expanded our genetic history book by several chapters.  The new millennia now accessible for archaeogenetic study have allowed us to analyse the relationship between modern populations in order to determine the route of the first settlers.  The debate is now largely centred on the mapping of routes our ancestors most plausibly took on their exit from Africa.  Some have speculated that this early migration may have occurred multiple times and not necessarily followed the same path.

The most prominent theories of human dispersal suggest a northerly exit from the African continent seeing three possible escape routes; across the Mediterranean to southern Europe and Italy, across the straits of Gibraltar and across the Levant. Each theory insinuates a sea crossing there being no immediate land bridge between the continents in geographic reconstructions at the proposed time of crossing ~100,000 years ago (Cann 1987).  However others have posited a southerly route across the Indian Ocean is a more probable route as a single dispersal model. The analysis of haplogroups in mtDNA has shown the time periods in which these divergences of populations occurred and archaeological evidence along coastal Africa signify the capability to move across bodies of water in order to populate the new land.

This path out of Africa has been been a matter of great debate however the most prominent thought sees a movement out of the to the Horn of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula.  DNA from  southern Indian and southeast Asia comply with the theory that the people who first left Africa came not across the Indian Ocean. This southern route has been supported by the analysis of mtDNA samples from New Guinea, mainland India and the Andaman Islands (Macaulay at al. 2005).  These “relic” populations have been argued to have been the result of a rapid dispersal out of Africa ~65,000 years ago.  The dating suggests that this may have been a secondary route taken at a later stage aiding the theory of multiple dispersion.  However Macaulay makes the argument that the northern routes are less likely exits. Geographic models calibrate a more arid and harsh environment as the ‘ice age’ widens deserts by locking moisture in glaciers and increased the distance to water by reducing sea levels ; the northern passages were probably blocked by desert (Macaulay et al. 2005).  This is backed up by the lineage of haplogroups; the oldest N and R have the oldest date outside of Africa and are found almost exclusively in western Asia and India and arise ~10,000 years before the development of another haplogroup U in northern Africa. This so suggests that the southerly route across to Asia was the route taken by the first global explorers.  The route along this latitude was also a lot more comfortable and ecologically rich. It is plausible that our ancestors took the path of least resistance and remained in the subtropical environments rather than push closer to the ice sheets; models have shown that southern Arabia was in a wetter phase and well within the biological niche that Homo sapiens inhabit (Armitage 2011).

Genetic studies have allowed us to trace the migration of all humans across the globe.  It has contributed a great deal to our concept of ‘race’ and social derivation. Outside of sub-Saharan Africa we have all originated from one small group of pioneering humans who 100,000 years ago decided to venture outside of the continent they were born. Our understanding of genetics and especially interpretation of mtDNA has allowed us to rewrite the earliest pages of our species history.  We have retraced the footprints of the first sapiens to step outside of the “cradle of life” and conquer the word. Geneticists have been able to tell us more about our origins in the last 50 years then we could ever have imagined. Possibly one of the greatest human achievements; the complete mapping of the Human genome in 2004 aimed to provide data in order to aid our understanding of the movement and evolution outside of Africa. We have been able to narrow the time period and space in which the human race could have left the continent. We have much to credit genetic studies for in our understanding of the first migration/s out of Africa.

Reference list :

Armitage, S.J., Jasim, S.A., Marks, A.E., Parker, A.G., Usik, V.I. and Uerpmann, H.-P. (2011) ‘The southern route “Out of Africa”: Evidence for an early expansion of modern humans into Arabia’, Report, 331(6016), pp. 453–456. doi: 10.1126/science.1199113.

Boyd, R. and Silk, J.B. (2000) How humans evolved. New York: WW Norton & Co.

Cann, R.L. (1987) ‘IN SEARCH OF EVE’, The Sciences, 27(5), pp. 30–37. doi: 10.1002/j.2326-1951.1987.tb02967.x.

Groucutt, H.S., Petraglia, M.D., Bailey, G., Scerri, E.M.L., Parton, A., Clark-Balzan, L., Jennings, R.P., Lewis, L., Blinkhorn, J., Drake, N.A., Breeze, P.S., Inglis, R.H., Devès, M.H., Meredith-Williams, M., Boivin, N., Thomas, M.G. and Scally, A. (2015) ‘Rethinking the dispersal of Homo sapiens out of Africa’, Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews, 24(4), pp. 149–164. doi: 10.1002/evan.21455.

Gusar, V., Roostalu, U., Malyarchuk, B.A., Derenko, M.V., Kivisild, T., Metspalu, E., Tambets, K., Reidla, M., Tolk, H.-V., Parik, J., Pennarun, E., Laos, S., Lunkina, A., Golubenko, M., Barać, L., Peričić, M., Balanovsky, O.P., Loogväli, E.-L., Khusnutdinova, E.K., Stepanov, V., Puzyrev, V., Rudan, P., Balanovska, E.V., Grechanina, E., Richard, C., Moisan, J.-P., Chaventré, A., Anagnou, N.P., Pappa, K.I., Michalodimitrakis, E.N., Claustres, M., Gölge, M., Mikerezi, I., Usanga, E. and Villems, R. (2004) ‘Disuniting uniformity: A Pied Cladistic canvas of mtDNA Haplogroup H in Eurasia’, Molecular Biology and Evolution, 21(11), pp. 2012–2021. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msh209.

Macaulay, V. (2005) ‘Single, rapid coastal settlement of Asia revealed by analysis of complete Mitochondrial Genomes’, Science, 308(5724), pp. 1034–1036. doi: 10.1126/science.1109792.

MitoDNA ACWilson nature1987 (no date) Available at: http://dna1.genome.ou.edu/5853/outofafrica/MitoDNA-ACWilson-Nature1987.pdf (Accessed: 1 December 2016).

Stringer, C. and Andrews, P. (2005) The complete world of human evolution: With 432 illustrations, 180 in colour. NEW YORK: Thames & Hudson.

Tishkoff, S.A., Dietzsch, E., Speed, W., Pakstis, A.J., Kidd, J.R., Cheung, K., Bonne-Tamir, B., Santachiara-Benerecetti, A.S., Moral, P., Krings, M., Paabo, S., Watson, E., Risch, N., Jenkins, T. and Kidd, K.K. (1996) ‘Global patterns of linkage Disequilibrium at the CD4 locus and modern human origins’, Science, 271(5254), pp. 1380–1387. doi: 10.1126/science.271.5254.1380.

 

was the cold war inevitable ?

It’s often been discussed in many a history class. But as a shortened answer – yes. why? can i give such a conclusive but brief answer … well it happened so at one point or another there must have been a point of no return where conflict between the USA and the USSR was inevitable. So the real question here is at what point could either side no longer back down if at all.

The question is still a valid one. Today we are still living through the effects of the war where “there is no shooting … only bleeding” and to some extent we are still bleeding – some would argue we are still shooting.

I was given this chirpy question as part of an A-level history assignment. Bearing in mind I will only have 40 minutes in the actual exam to write a similar essay I went on the write 3000 words on the topic. so instead of letting them go to waste I thought I would share them with you.

It’s only a small part of at least 50,000 words I have written  for my history studies this year! as it occurred to me that this is my last year of school studies it would seem a shame if all my efforts were not share hopefully this will aid someone else’s studies of the period …. by please no cheating and read only. As a rule history should be”by the book” only – believe me i have enough of them!

on to the essay …

To what extent was the cold war inevitable?

The cold war is often argued as an ideological confrontation between the political systems of the capitalists versus the communists. This battle transforms itself into several forms through the second half of the 20th century and its impact has shaped the modern world. Why this confrontation developed cannot be decisively established. With no event/ specific area of conflict to determine the exact date of its creation, this new “war” is almost undoubtedly the result of the tension within the wartime alliance. Traditionalists, however, often date this tension back to the Russian revolution of 1917. The US support of the white army instead of the Bolshevik Reds, during the civil war, is often described as a cause for political distrust by the Soviets. Whereas revisionists argue that Truman’s economically aggressive foreign policy forced the USSR to take hostile action against them, this usually resulted in their support of USA’S political enemies (e.g. Fidel Castro) like the US had in 1917. The Conflict between Russia and America was inevitable the rise of both world powers resulting in rivalry ; however deciphering the causes before 1945 without an exact beginning date is an unusual challenge and shows that this battle is unique to its eras conditions. The growth of American and Soviet Russia’s power during the same period would inevitably lead to conflict; this may have been political, ideological, military, within the spheres of influence, economically or culturally. The nature of the conflict is therefore directly linked to the era and the conditions of the post war world.

 

With the collapse of the imperialist powers in Western Europe, after demising in colonial wealth, two great world powers came to inherit the resulting political void. Russia and the US could therefore have fallen into a “’traditional’ great power rivalry” as seen in Europe in the dawn of the 19th and late 18th century’s. The collapse of the French and British empires saw the end of a Eurocentric world. The creation of over 23 separate states (1944-46) shows the imperial turmoil the post war world had created; newly independent states such as Israel were highly controversial. The decentralisation of colonies, especially within Africa, presented a new opportunity as the land was essentially “up for sale”. The Americans were especially keen for these new states to become independent of their European rulers and grow into strong democratic and economically stable countries. Policies like the Marshall plan were set in place. In turn the Russians saw this as an aggressive spread of American influence and as an investment into the development of America’s economy – growing states into reputable trading partners for its own gain. This view is held by revisionist historian William A. Williams who sees Americans as “empire building people” – something America has always denied (refusing to be seen as colonial like the 19th century European powers). They do not invade, according to his theory, by military means but economically. Secretary of state Hull attempted to replace Imperial tariff with US aid reaching out to the newly formed non colonial states. The “open door” policy of USA’s international economic policy shows their desire to retain foreign markets for US-business; something that would later cause tension between Cuba and the US. The aim of this policy? Williams believes that US economic policy makers are solely concerned in maintaining capitalism domestically. The Truman plan provided international loans to countries (mostly in Europe) at risk of communist revolution. It was Truman’s belief that a strong, developed economy within a country could settle disrest and prevent revolution. Looking back to the 1917 revolution the starvation of the workers within cities, such as St. Petersburg, was a crucial factor in the public political opinion; the battle cry of the revolution “peace, bread, work” showed the populaces economic reasons for joining in revolt. Truman saw a need to prevent the spread of communism into the European countries that had become decimated by the war. He offered economic growth as a means to confront Communism.

 

The end of Eurocentrism therefore gave political ‘space’ for conflict between the growing world powers. The 19th century Capitalist European powers had adopted a policy of isolation towards the Soviets. The Bolshevik exclusion from diplomacy constituted into agreements such as the treaty of Brest-Litovsk which resulted in the loss of territory to Russia. Russia in turn was suspicious of the west; unfair treaties were used as examples of “imperialist plotting for their downfall”.  The interwar years of the 1920’s saw a “pattern of oscillation between accommodation, isolation and ideological confrontation” between the Bolsheviks and the rest of Europe. The distrust of the Russians stemmed from the 1917 revolution, as one American policy maker put it “a reading of communist ideology reinforced this tendency to the see the USSR as Naturally expansionist and committed to spreading revolution”. The Americans did not formally recognise the Soviet regime until the wartime alliance; secretary of state Colby summed up the US’s reason in his August statement 1920. Formally Colby A fear of communism was spread by exiles from the civil war as well as several prominent anti-Bolsheviks. Propaganda spread the view of USSR as “a threat to domestic and international stability”. As a result the public opinion in the USA came to a turning point. The “red scare” of 1919-20 saw US law enforcement joining pro-business activists to destroy what they saw as a communist/radical threat after the ‘revolutionary party’ led strikes and sent bombs to officials in the name of radical communism. The spread of communism to china under Mao Zedong in 1948 showed Americans the global aspirations of this “revolutionary communism” – seeing this as a direct threat to domestic America. The ‘red scare’ as well as the exposition of supposed “enemies of the state” by McCarthy in the 1940/50’s, this helped to spread the sense of insecurity within the US.  At the same time that the USSR supposedly adopted a policy of ideological spread via revolution whereas the American “policies were committed to spreading USA’s dominance in world affairs” – both world powers were seeking expansion in their spheres of influence. US policy makers were “committed to spreading USA’s dominance in world affairs”. Inevitably these spheres would cross as the boundaries of influence were drawn closer. The modern world had become smaller; improved transport and communication due to rapid advances during both world wars. The military technological advance also saw the increased size of military weapons and the distance that they were able to travel. The striking range of armaments meant that international conflict could be fought within their own borders.

 

The new form of war was established with the end of the last. The dropping of the A-bomb on Japan brought warfare into a new era of nuclear weaponry. Revisionist historian Gar Alperovitz argues that the use of nuclear bombs on japan was not used to win the war quickly but to intimidate the Soviets. In his opinion the cold war is a result of the use of the atomic bomb. From its dropping in 1945 the war was therefore inevitable; it would ultimately lead to the space race and nuclear tension.  The “last actions of one conflict were the first major shots in another”. The end of the war saw not only technological change but political. USA had long adopted self-isolation in international politics but at the end of the war saw new diplomatic policies being put forward with the notion of ‘never again’ as their driving point. The ‘mistakes’ of 1919-1930 were seen as a result of America’s isolation. Pearl harbour was used as an example to show that the USA must take “a leading role in world affairs to encourage prosperity and stable democracies”. This was laid out in war time agreements such as the Atlantic charter and the Munich analogy; “if rejected or refused international laws they must be resisted”. The determination to take part in international agreements is the state’s willingness to act as a great power – a clause agreed by many political scientists such as George Modelski. This change in attitude was upheld using international bodies such as the UNO, Bretton Wood financial systems, IMF and the world bank.  The FDR had wanted to establish diplomatic relations with the USSR in 1930/40’s hoping that diplomatic recognition would “mellow” soviet policy reducing its revolutionary aims. However the isolationist policy had meant that public opinion was already opposed to foreign commitments over Japan and Germany. Trade remained low and the soviet spying relentless; the unresponsive Stalin during the announcement the Manhattan project’s success, proved how deep they had infiltrated into the American system.

 

This tension during the war inevitably lead to the breakdown of this wartime alliance one the common enemy was defeated. The alliance had been one “of convenience, not trust” as geopolitical considerations had gone ahead of ideology. The USA was forced to reluctantly recognise the Soviets in 1933, despite Stalin’s repressive policies such as the Purges and Siberian labour camps. FDR debated over the proper policy towards the USSR; “…deeply influenced both US-Soviet relations and the domestic policies of the communist issue”.  From the start, the alliance was based on mutual distrust. The soviets lagged in technological advance and saw the need for an alliance in order to uphold its borders. However throughout the war ideological mistrust as well as memories of Munich tainted their alliance. These seemed to be rightly held by the soviets as the allies push Hitler further east towards Stalin, the Russians lost more men and suffered far more than any other. During the war the aim of Russia seemed to be different than the west, as a British diplomat commented “he spoke of minimum conditions he meant that his government insisted on recovering the territory violated by Hitler”. The hope for continued co-operation came primarily from Litvinov who advocated the policy in order to maintain peace and influence within an “anti-fascist solidarity” he saw capitalism and communism working alongside each other in an alliance, not of convenience, but ideology – against fascist rule. Litvinov’s downgrading in 1946 is noted by Harriman as a sign of political movement away from co-operation. With this conflict seemed inevitable.

 

The change in American policy made it hard for soviet policy makers to determine their reaction. With no historic reference to the US’s actions without an isolationist foreign policy (the Russians had expected this to continue after the war) made their judgement hard to decipher. For example the American rejection of Russia’s proposal at Potsdam to be given former Axis colonies in Africa came as a surprise to the Soviets. As the Americans were pressured to “expand their definition of security needs” the USSR also sought to expand on the Anglo-American tensions that had built up in the “special relationship” and use them to their own diplomatic failure. There inability to do so showed how “out of touch” they had become in international diplomacy. There years of enforced isolation during the 1920’s had reduced their knowledge of post war diplomacy and how the great powers conducted their domestic negotiations.  However the tentative agreement (Nov 1944) shows that deals were possible with the soviets after/at the end of the war. Roosevelt in turn also misunderstood the relationship between the US and USSR. He believed he could build on the ‘mutual trust’ built up during the war – he even returned an OSS code book without copying/ recording it. At the end of the war the A-bomb also made Soviet-American relations tricky. Its development bred resentment and distrust; the high levels of espionage throughout the war, on both sides, show this.

 

USSR planned for peace on the assumption of a secure western border with a weakened Germany. Poland was one of the most volatile areas at the end of the war, with competing exile governments its fate was debated between western allies, “never again policies” and soviet ambitions.  The most significant act of war time distrust came to light as Russia was accused of the massacres of polish officers during the war, they denied this until the 1990’s. Fears and suspicions still circulated however about Russian behaviour in Eastern Europe. Stalin’s suspicious nature led to these cover ups and allegations. The collective security adopted by the west became a key point of anxiety; Stalin wanted control of the USSR’s own destiny and boarders knowing the west would not head decisions that would directly benefit due to their ideological differentiation.   USSR had ambitious internal affairs “As Stalin has said, we must proceed step by step and before taking any new step we should consolidate positions already acquired” and showed little intention for global expansion at the end of the war. Russia’s historic sense of vulnerability, fuelled by unsecure borders in 1812, 1914, 1919 and 1941, was dealt with by capturing surrounding land as a buffer zone during tsarist rule. It is argued that Russia was still looking eurocentricity in the 1940’s. The division of Germany at Potsdam was a way of dealing with the indecision and conflicting aims of the allies. All agreed that Germany was to be de-Nazified, demilitarised, deindustrialised and for democratic power to be re-established, however it was the interpretation and execution of these aims that lead to debate. Each power looked after their own needs – France for instance was reluctant to accept German control of the Saar which delayed co-operation until the autumn of 1945 meaning that the German people suffered the harsh winter of 1943. Britain on the other hand wanted to reduce its economic burden placed on them – their economy heavily reliant on several American loans. The soviets aim of revenge and reparation conflicted with the American notion of “never again”. Seeing how harsh treaties had led to the start of the second war the west was keen not to repeat the cycle. Stalin meanwhile had set up his own reparations commission headed by Maisky and Litvinov. There demands for German reparation in order to pay for war-time destruction, dismantlement of all factories regardless of whether they were war making or not and forcing experts to work for the USSR was deemed as the “complete violation of all efforts to maintain ‘non war’ potential industries in Germany” as it eradicated the east German economy.

 

Most historians persist that the cold war was not inevitable but brought on by the opposing leaders. John Lewis Gaddis demarked six main reasons for the outbreak of the cold war. Firstly, the confusion over US and USSR’s foreign, on both sides, blamed mostly on Molotov for exacerbating the mistrust. Gaddis then goes on to blame the change in policy by the Americans – becoming involved in world affairs rather than isolationist as Stalin had expected them to remain. The misread soviet intention at this time is also made liable, the propaganda spread by anti-Bolsheviks helped to develop this interpretation. Gaddis also remarks that the US was politically, economically and militarily stronger than any other state at that time.  This gave it freedom to act; its natural counterpart was the USSR the world power that had developed alongside America, they became rival blocks as each’s influence spread. He also stresses that the US only acted as it chose to see the soviets as aggressive expansionists.  This post revisionist view also dictates that the incompatible ideology did not lead to conflict between both countries.

 

Following Gaddis opinions as a model the cold war was not as inevitable as some suggest. Without ideology as the catalyst but using the conditions of the post war world the antagonism between the USA and USSR is clearly frictional towards the end of the war and evident in post war discussions. The high levels of espionage undertaken by both countries in the last year of the war showed an increase in distrust. The dropping of the bomb is just as pointed as its secret conception and shows the political distrust of not only Russia but the rest of the Allies at the end of the war. The different aim of the allies during post war discussions suggests that the cold war was ultimately inevitable. The difference in political systems and interpretation of terms was bound to cause further mistrust and tension.

If you actually read this I am impressed and very pleased ! Thank you for taking time. If you are reading this as part of your studies here is a list of source material that i used to write this essay and may aid you.

Thank you again for reading please like and comment on what you would like to find next time !

Walking around St  Andrews 

I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting in this medieval  town; with world renound golf courses, beautiful ruins and of course the famous scotish univercity. But what I found pleasantly suprised me, apart from the 1/3rd of American students,  St. Andrews was a hub of medieval architecture, ruins and unfortunate  60s design. 

Honestly though I spent a few days up in Scotland, coincidentally in the same area where much of my family spent both wars, and I loved it. It was this gloriously sunny day (unusual for Scotland) and the town was lively, full of students and prospectus. 

I spent the day before the open day walking around the town. I have to admit I was one of those tourists who spent a little bit too long in the cemetery – were a unique bunch. In my defence the ruins of the towns medieval cathedral were scattered across the graveyard. This once grand structure now lay as a few odd towers,arches and paved floors. It was recognisably a medieval structure, looking closely at the still standing structures you felt unbelievable sad that the reformation ever happens.

I have never wanted to study in Scotland more then after visiting St.Andrews. The whole vibe just echoed an American collage with a history and competence of Oxbridge.

The first person I spoke to was a student origionly from the Middle East studying physics. This amazing Young man was sudding for his Dr while teaching at the uni.  Yet he seamed like a first year; confident and, surprisingly for a physicist, incredibly relatable and chatty. I just though – that could be me in a few years – making me feel instantly at home. I understood these people and I wanted to be one of them . 

The town exceeded all my expectations. The little museum was a treasure trove of local artifacts and history. Me and my dad especially enjoyed our hotel especially since it was above a pub and the football was on! 

I got back home after a long week going from st.Andrews to Bath for a conference to Northampton. Returning to school I was yelled at by my form tutor – apparently I had been too ambitious. My dreams of Scotland and St.Andrews lay in ruins scattered accord the cemetery that has now become my UCAS application.  – remind you of anywhere ?