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[ Freshers, University and Church ]

University is incredible. No other season of life is quite like it. Being at university opens you to experiences and opportunities that otherwise you may not come by. Just sitting here now reflecting on the wealth of experiences at university helps me to pause and realise what a remarkable time the past three years have been for me.

I don’t know how you read this today, whether you are coming back from a gap year or are straight out of college, at Plymouth through clearing or with the grades you wanted, mature student or just turning 18. I don’t know if you are buzzing to start uni or downright terrified, excited to join a society or anxious about whether you’ll make friends. I don’t know if you’re worrying about whether this is reallywhere God wants you or if you are feeling strong in your faith. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about church or God at all.

Everyone has an individual story which has brought them to uni and everyone will have a different experience. The way you navigate uni may well be different to other people and that’s ok. That is partly what it’s about. However here are 4 things I have found to be key to build into your university life early on.

  • Throw yourself into church

Plymouth is blessed with loads of good churches. Being part of a church family is perhaps the best thing you can do at uni. That’s definitely been the case for me. Find a church that love Jesus, encourage community, are missionally minded and faithful to the bible and it will transform your uni experience. Do your research, send emails, and get stuck in. The Christian union do a great thing called Surf the churches, this will get you round to 8 city centre churches within the first 4 weeks. My only advice would be to make the commitment to a church within the first 2 months of being at uni. The community you find there will be so important so make a decision and throw yourself in. Don’t just go, BE a part of church. You will be blessed and be a blessing.

  • Throw yourself into friendships

A key moment in my first term at Plymouth was finding a friend who I could meet with regularly to pray with and chat to. About 6 weeks into university a guy called Rob and I agreed we would pray for each other and keep each other accountable. 3 years on we now live in the same house and have become very good friends. He has been a vital part of my uni experience in the highs and the lows.

Some people will find this natural, others will have to work at it a bit. I’m naturally an introvert and so had to be quite intentional with keeping up with Rob on a regular basis but friendships such as these last well on into life beyond uni. Christian Union is an incredible opportunity to meet friends who will probably be feeling similar things to you, they have a week of events at the beginning of term so try get to some of them.

  • Throw yourself into university life

University is incredible. Go for it. Join the clubs, get on the sports teams, go clubbing, explore the city and Dartmoor, plan mad weekend trips to Cornwall, have parties in your halls. There are well over 20,000 students in Plymouth and I’m almost certain there will be someone with similar interests to you. There are 109 societies all the way from scuba society to politics society to Christian union to nerf society! You will meet friends, have opportunity to tell people about Jesus and enjoy some amazing experiences. Jesus came that we might live life in all of its fullness (John 10:10) that includes our study, our extracurricular activities, our days off, our social life. All of it is a gift from the Father to be enjoyed, don’t just dip your toes in at university. Throw yourself in.

  • Throw yourself into Jesus

I said at the beginning of this blog that I didn’t know your story getting to uni or how you are feeling about starting. I don’t. But I know someone who does. The greatest confidence you can carry into university is that the God who made the universe and at this present moment is holding it all together knows your name and cares about you. How remarkable is that?!

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,                                                                                                                                                                                                                      if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

Psalm 139:7-12

You may be traveling across the world to come to university you might be popping over the river Tamar. God is here, and God is with you. My final piece of advice for university… Make time with Jesus non-negotiable. However, you can best find your way to pray, get bible truth in you and be with Gods people do it and make it as concrete as your lectures and social life. God has plans to work in and through you at university. I’ve been astounded by what I’ve seen him do whilst here. So however you’re feeling about uni, come to Jesus and throw yourself into him. He cares about your worries (1 Peter 5:7), he won’t leave or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6), he knows what you need before you ask (Matthew 6:8) and he will help you (Psalm 121:2).

 

Written by Andy Carter, 4th year Plymouth University Student studying Civil Engineering MEng.

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