Stephanie Irwin, our Deputy Editor, tells you what she wants her academic kids – and you—to know about life in St Andrews.  [Photo below: Stephanie Irwin and her “academic husband.”]



If you allow them to be, academic parents can be more than just “those people who made me dress up as super girl and carry a mango to St Salvator’s Quad.” Often, academic parents can serve as mentors for the rest of the year; someone to guide you through the strange but wonderful bubble we call St Andrews. As a third year on the cusp of adoption, I have taken it upon myself to dole out motherly advice to my academic children. Drawing from advice I have received (thanks academic mom) and sheer life experience, I have compiled the top 5 pieces of motherly advice every St Andrews fresher should know. Call me your academic godmother.

1. It’s okay if you don’t want to go out. It’s also ok if you want to go out, but not drink.
In first year, coming to this realization was one of my greatest challenges. With social events being a constant occurrence, I became socially exhausted. No matter how many friends try to convince you to go to Ma Bells every night, remember that low-key nights are equally important. Even if you can hear others having a wild time through your walls, just know that that can be you –on another night. If you want to go out, but don’t feel like drinking, feel free to lie and say you’re drinking. No one will know its soda water.

2. Think about your health.
Booze and gross food seem to go hand-in-hand with nights out. While its ok to eat fries on occasion, getting hammered every night and eating cheesy chips = hangover city, weight gain, overall poor future health and a 100% chance of liver damage. Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s sensible.

3. Have deeper friendships and interests.
In high school, I always had a non-discriminatory friend-making policy. If someone seemed nice, smart and interesting, why not be friends with him or her? Unfortunately, sheer ‘kindness’ can be a front. In order to determine friendship authenticity, invest time in getting to know the person. There’s nothing wrong with casual acquaintances, but having a few close friends is far more valuable than knowing everyone from Sallies to DRA. Trust your instincts.
Alongside keeping a streamlined friend group, also rein in your enthusiasm for every single club or society in town. Although university is all about learning and experimenting, there comes a point when passion and depth become important. Pick your top 2-3.

4. Call your real family, but sometimes its important to deal with things on your own.
Since I’m from Vancouver, my family are 8 hours behind. If I feel compelled to call them at most normal hours, I know they won’t be awake. Although it’s important to call your family, I have found that not calling them is also important. As hard as this is, the more issues you deal with independently, the more confident you will become.

5. You don’t need to like everyone in your hall.
The odds are high that you will make friends in your hall. Sometimes, you will dislike certain people / everyone – and that’s completely normal. Just because someone lives across from you (or with you) by random assignment, that does not mean you have to be best friends with him or her – although it is quite nice when you are.

If these tips are too much to remember, remember this: “your St Andrews experience is what you make of it.” Focus on what you want to gain from life in St Andrews, and you will find your place. Contrary to stereotypes, there is a niche for everyone at St Andrews — your academic parents might even help you find it.


Stephanie Irwin 


Featured Image: Stephanie Irwin, Photo of St Salvators Quad during Fresher’s Week 2013