Durham is special in that instead of a buddy system you have a ‘family’. Every first year is allocated parents and the family experience is really just what you make it. As with all families, no two college families are the same! 

Of the parents you are allocated in first year at least one will do your subject. This is really useful when you get stuck on a homework or need advice about an essay. As well as academic tips your parents (who will be in 2nd year) will also know about general University life, Hatfield and Durham itself, whether its what 2nd year modules to choose, where to go on a Friday night or which coffee shop to try. 

You will first meet your family at Parenting night, the itinerary for that evening is decided by your parents so you can get to know them and may involve a house party of some sort. A few weeks after this is Family Formal, which is an optional, very popular, evening and is a great way to get to know your family better. Plus your parents will have a year of formal experience and will be able to show you all the tips and tricks! After this the level of interaction is completely up to the family. Some parents will have regular coffee dates, some will invite you to their pres, others may arrange to go on formal with you, it really depends on your parents. Even if you don't see much of your parents after parenting night they will still be more than happy to chat or answer any questions - just drop them a message. In the situation that you are feeling really abandoned there is always adoption (seriously there are always families happy to adopt).

College families provide a nice opportunity to meet different people in college that you may not have met otherwise. You will soon discover that college families stretch way beyond your mum(s), dad(s), brother(s) and sister(s) as you are introduced to grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. The family trees are ever growing in complexity, so don't worry, you aren't alone if you get a headache when someone is trying to explain how their roommate is their grandad’s second cousin’s nephew’s brother’s adopted daughter. 

One of the fun parts of the College Family system is the proposals. Some proposals are simple and sweet in privacy, some are a less than graceful drunken suggestion at pres and very occasionally you'll see a bunch of flowers and someone down on one knee in the Dinning Hall. As for my proposal, Kinky Jeff where playing at the Michaelmas Ball and my now husband, who plays in Kinky Jeff, came to the microphone during a song and got down on one knee with a candy ring - who wouldn't say yes?! 

Your college spouse is normally just one of your best mates, I have two mums and a dad which is proof that you don't even have to just choose one partner. There is a general rule not to hook up with your college spouse, it gets a bit awkward when it doesn’t work out and you are stuck raising kids with them. As for your family, I would probably advise against incest, though there are always some who end up getting with their dad and sleeping with their brother, all very GoT.

You will be married to your college fiancé on the morning of Hatfield Day by Anthony Bash, so make sure you put the date in your diary! After you are married you'll have the summer as a sort of Honeymoon before you can sign up to have kids in October. Then you become the parents. 

Chloe Sweetland, Natural Sciences

Leave a comment