What to Expect from Academic Parenting

Moms, dads, and siblings.

Your parents seeing you off to uni is an integral part of the fumbled experience of finally fleeing the nest. Undoubtedly, your parents will fuss over the utilities of your new hall, remind you to eat well, instruct you to call every day and insist on accumulating bagfuls of “tourist tat” from Bonnie Scotland before going home. But alas, they will leave – and the hunt for your new academic parents begins. The prospect of leaving home and making a whole bunch of new friends in a new town is nerve wracking enough, let alone also having to find a whole new family, but this eccentric St Andrews tradition is nothing to be nervous about. Here’s exactly what to expect…

Excessive Love

People will ask to “adopt” you. I promise. As Freshers’ Week rolls on, every night out at the Union will result in a handful of prospective parents begging for your friendship on Facebook the next morning. This is a really big part of St Andrews academic culture, and I guarantee third years will be seeking you out – and they know exactly how you feel because they were once in your shoes. This excitement in the first few weeks creates an extremely social buzz, so rest assured (perhaps after one, two or way too many drinks) you’ll be revelling in all the offers!

Awkward Break-Ups

A result of being an adorable little fresher is that everybody wants to take you under their wing, so expect to have to let a few down. Once you have chosen your academic parents, the invitations will probably still be rolling in and you’ll have to deal out a few knockbacks.  Just be honest, say you’re sorry and let them know that you’ve already been adopted. However, if you’re still on the prowl for a new mum and dad, you’ll probably also come across some families you definitely do not want to join. The best thing to do is just say you’re not decided yet, let them add you on Facebook and mentally add them to the pile of rejected admirers. And talking of admirers, be prepared for the following…

Academic dating

I know it’s weird, but academic parenting can be a strange, incestuous St Andrews dating tactic. Whether it’s your actual parents or someone else in the fam, don’t be surprised if they hit on you, it happens. Be warned that if you do go down that Oedipal road, you have to do May Dip to wash away your sins (the full tradition is to do it naked but I’ll leave that up to you).

Sober Seeking

Freshers’ Week is undoubtedly a sacred time where it’s completely acceptable to live in a constant state of unimaginable intoxication or deathly hangover – but if that’s not your cup of tea that’s completely okay! There are tonnes of much better things to be doing if you do manage to drag yourself out of bed by at least lunchtime. Drink some water, take some paracetamol and look into the hundreds of clubs and societies in St Andrews. Following your interests, you’ll undoubtedly encounter likeminded third years, who are the cool, ‘down with the kids’ parents you always wished you had.

Choose wisely

Keep in mind that an academic parent can often act as a friend and a mentor, so remember that you have the freedom to take a bit of time in choosing them –find parents that you really want. You will not believe how valuable it is to have a trusted port-of-call for advice from someone who’s seen and done it all before.

Don’t Stress

Although academic families can be a lot of fun, the most important thing is gradually finding your feet in your new home, and making new friends along the way. A lot of people don’t have families, or just tag along with mates to their family happenings, or wait until they’re parents themselves.

Have a great freshers week, kids!!!



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