Your Guide to St. Augustine Student Life
The city of St. Augustine is a unique blend of old and new, history and art, tourists and college students alike. But the peculiar thing that sets St. Augustine apart is the way all of these aspects seem to blend into each other seamlessly. Moving from Pittsburgh, PA to Florida was certainly a change of pace and it can be hard for students around the country to get used to the differences their towns have compared to this little historical goldmine.
Flagler College is nestled in the heart of downtown St. Augustine right in the historic district. It’s a small liberal arts school with less than 3,000 students, and honestly, you’d never be able to tell a student from a tourist unless you were on campus, and even then it can be tricky. There are multiple reasons why student life in St. Augustine is comparable to nowhere else’s.
Of course, living in a little beach town means the food is incomparable. With fresh seafood coming off of the coast of Florida daily, you’re going to want to skip out on Red Lobster for the catch of the day.
On the flip side, there are three pizzerias right on St. George street in the center of town, guaranteed to curve your Italian cravings. Indulge in an array of gelato, ice cream and sweets as you travel down this little stone road, no one does ice cream like Kilwins, with every flavor you could imagine.
The great thing about St. Augustine is that there are a plethora of places to chose from, whether you want some quick tacos before class at Fiesta Jacks, a build your own burrito bar, or you are celebrating your graduation dinner at The Columbia, an upscale Colombian restaurant with easy access to the shops. Each of the restaurants are unique, one of a kind, and there for the days you think you failed a yes, or the days that your best friend is coming to visit!
Of course, St. Augustine is known for it’s preservation of it’s historical sights, and that is what draws many people to the little town yearly. The first and most impressive, the Castillo De San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the United States, it was designed when Florida was a part of the Spanish Empire (hence all of the beautiful Spanish-style buildings sprinkled around town). Built from coquina, the English had a hard time seizing the fort until 1702. Today, you can walk around outside of the fort, lay a blanket in the shade for a picnic, or even go inside! There are great reenactments daily of when the Spanish were fighting back, and they set off a canon over the fort and the Matanzas Bay.
But wait, there’s more! Along with the fort, St. George street has also done a fantastic job at preserving what they could of the old shops along the road, including the oldest wooden schoolhouse (still standing). There are daily historic tours either walking or on the trolley, the Spanish Military hospital, the city gates, and of course ghost tours! Yes, this town is extremely haunted.
We also can’t forget the St. Augustine movement that Martin Luther King led through St. Augustine in 1963-1964. There are still plaques around the city indicating the path King took, and you can follow it today. Students have the opportunity to leave the classroom and study the history of their own back yard, which is exactly what professors at Flagler encourage. There are so many stories to be told and Flagler College has a unique advantage when it comes to learning about these interesting and historical facts.
Of course living in Florida means the beach, that’s certainly one thing that draws students to St. Augustine. A three mile drive left or right of Flagler College lands you at one of two beaches. St. Augustine beach is more popular, filled with more tourists and more sand. Taking a drive beachside can easily calm the nerves about a big test or presentation. There are ice cream shops, kayak and surf rentals, and big beautiful beach houses to fantasize about living in.
On the other end is Vilano beach, just over the bridge, this area used to be full of casinos and bars until the great depression when they all went out of business. Now, students travel to Vilano for the waves, skim boarding, and the taco joint right off of the same, Mojo’s Tacos. Having the beach as your backyard can only relieve your college stress!
Flagler College provides a great education to it’s students, but St. Augustine provides a great adventure. Just sitting at the fort, walking down St. George Street, or driving to the beach, you cannot escape being captured by the beauty that is St. Augustine. Everyone blends in as the students become the tourists of their own town. There is so much to do, it is almost impossible to embrace everything in only four years of schooling. Every weekend, taking a walk downtown means live music, people watching, and a beautiful sunset, not to mention the always amazing festivals St. Augustine puts on every years such as Rhythm and Ribs (the best BBQ you’ll ever have in your life), Food Truck Wars, craft festivals, etc.
It’s impossible to put into so many words how willing everyone is in embracing the culture of St. Augustine and northern Florida. We all become students to this little town, and maybe you’ll learn a little more than the history.