Léa Weimann. MA (honours) International Relations and Sustainable Development, 29 June 2021

Lea Weimann
Léa, from Frankfurt am Main, pictured at home in Aschau im Chiemgau (Bavaria).

What attracted you to St Andrews in the first place?

When I visited St Andrews for the first time it immediately felt like home and I knew it was the place where I wanted to study.

What are your favourite memories of being a student here?

Every corner of St Andrews carries so many memories that I cherish but my favourites include ceilidh dancing, May Dip, Gaudie, Line in the Sand, walks on West Sands, East Sands and Lade Braes, North Sea swims, Younger Hall Concerts, Compline by Candlelight, University Hall dinner conversations, the Beast from the East in 2018, and of cause my book launch in March 2020, before the world went into lockdown.

When you reflect on your time in St Andrews, how do you think it has changed you?

The last four years have definitely changed my life. They were filled with some of the most special memories of my life as well as some of the hardest times.

When I first came to St Andrews, I had never spent more than a week away from my family and I am proud of how easily St Andrews became my home, the confidence I gained, the lessons I learned about life and friendships, and about the joy of dancing in both times of rain and sunshine.

Where have you spent your time since the outbreak of Covid-19? What was the experience of virtual life, teaching and playing for you?

In March 2019 I travelled home to Germany for spring break when Covid-19 hit and so I completed my third year away from St Andrews. Then, luckily, I was able to come back to St Andrews for the beginning of fourth year for Semester 1. The last day I was in St Andrews before travelling home for Christmas was 1 December 2020 and I haven’t been able to come back since.

Nonetheless, I am incredibly grateful for the virtual community I’ve had throughout the pandemic with friends, my Environment Subcommittee and working with the Environmental Sustainability Board of the University. Despite the pandemic there has been so much to do, so many virtual events, and of course the wish to work towards a better future

How do you think events of 2020/1 (coronavirus, lockdown life, BLM) have shaped the graduating Class of 2021?

I think the events of 2020-21 have deeply shaped everyone and especially the Class of 2021. For one, it has highlighted how nothing can be taken for granted… whether that is when you next get to see your friends and family or experience the traditions and milestones you thought you would celebrate, such as graduation, for example. Furthermore, Covid-19 highlights even more how fragile our future is and how much human and planetary health are connected. In addition, it has really brought to light social justice issues and deep-seated societal injustices. Overall, it has been a difficult four years with a lot of big global changes that have happened, not only the pandemic. However, I hope that this will inspire us as the Class of 2021 to go out into the world to create social change and build resilient and compassionate communities for the future.

What was it like finishing your studies towards the end of the pandemic?

In all honesty, it has been heartbreaking. The Class of 2021 never even got to celebrate finishing third year and suddenly our time at St Andrews is over without many of the experiences that make it so special to be a student at St Andrews and to experience the traditions and the community. It is difficult to find closure especially for those like me that aren’t able to be in St Andrews. Nonetheless, difficult times also make you reflect on life and on the things that you value and I am grateful for the experiences that we have had despite the pandemic.

What are your hopes and plans for the future (both for yourself personally and the world at large)?

My hopes for the future are the same as they were when I came to St Andrews and that is to make a difference in the world and find ways how best I can do that. I dream of a green recovery for our future that addresses social justice and strives for communities of kindness and compassion rather than self-interest. Our individual futures are always linked to our communities and most certainly also to the future of our planet. Thus, real success is not just that of an individual but of its community and surroundings.

Lea Weimann

What will you miss most about ‘the bubble’ of St Andrews?

Everything: from long walks to coffee shops, to dinners with friends, and walking along the cobble stone streets of St Andrews, not just as a visitor but as a student and resident.

What are your plans for your own virtual conferral day?

I will be at home in Germany with family and we will watch the virtual conferral together. I’ll probably also call and speak to some friends from St Andrews to celebrate and remember all the special times together.

How do you feel now that we are beginning to see the light at the end of this pandemic?

I feel grateful and hopeful but also cautious because I know that nothing can be taken for granted and there is still so much to do in the world. Nonetheless, that shouldn’t stop us from dancing in the sun when it’s out and trusting that even if it rains and storms – there is always light even in darkness and eventually the sun will come out again.

And finally, do you hope to come back in 2022 to graduate in person?

YES! Very much so. I can’t wait to travel back to St Andrews and finally meet and see people again that I haven’t been able to see in person for a very long time. I also look forward to hearing about all the things that the Class of 2021 will do even just in this next year.