What To Expect From Freshers' Week
This September, many of you will be heading off to university for the first time. Whether you’re moving to a new city or living at home, you’ll be looking forward to new friends, new challenges and new experiences.
Starting university can be both exciting and daunting, so to help you prepare (and maybe ease some of your worries) a few of our ‘uni veterans’ have shared their experiences of Freshers’ Week and how keeping God at the centre helped them navigate their first few days.
I was incredibly blessed during Freshers’ Week, as although I was initially massively nervous (the butterflies in my stomach were really going for it, and I cried for about two days straight before leaving home!) the week turned out to be full-on and a lot of fun.
There were lots of new people to meet, lots of activities to sign up for, tutorials to attend, welcome parties… and so it went on. I was really blessed to meet some great friends early on, which was amazing, and for me, making some Christian friends was hugely exciting. I had one Christian friend while I was a teenager, so the meeting hundreds of students, all my age, who wanted to live for Jesus was a massive blessing!
It is also true to say that Freshers’ Week can be a little overwhelming. There is so much going on, so many new people, new tutors, often a new city, so remembering the basics really matters – sleep is important, eating properly is a great idea and pacing yourself is key! I failed to remember all of this, and ended up living on an exciting mix of only Maryland cookies (literally…) and no sleep for the first two weeks. This ended up with me fainting in the middle of Sainsbury’s and having to go to bed for 48 hours straight. Not ideal – please learn from my mistakes, and don’t just eat cookies!
And obviously, the most important thing is to keep God at the centre – even during Freshers’ Week. Getting into patterns of going to church, spending time with God and finding people to encourage us to do this, right at the beginning, really helped me. He is with you in the fun moments, and the nerve-wracking moments, so keep praying and keep your focus on Him!
I was unsure how to prepare for Freshers’ Week. Do I start trying to build up alcohol tolerance? Will I need an extension cable? Would it be weird to bring a teddy?! But the best preparation was to with my perspective.
I was always slightly fearful of Freshers’, of what people would think of me and how it would be as a Christian. I mentioned this to a friend and he just couldn’t see the problem – he just told me to pray about it and not to worry but simply to love God! Best advice ever! This totally freed me to be myself, trusting that God knew me totally and would place me where was best for me, even if didn’t seem as I imagined.
My godfather also advised me that uni could be hard at times, which didn’t exactly build my confidence! But looking back, this was great advice because it meant I didn’t have high expectations of meeting a best friend within a week or finding work easy – instead I just had to take things for what they were and enjoy it!
Trusting God like this made it really exciting to wake up every day and meet people and see things like the incredible sunset from my window or discover a great coffee shop, and be able to thank God for it! It’s an incredible adventure and I loved it!
For most of us, we unlock the door to our new bedroom knowing no one… and within a few hours we’ve met a heap of new people from all over! It is amazing! But this week also has the potential to bring out insecurities and feelings of loneliness. So we need to enter this week prepared:
2 Timothy 1:7 says ‘You have not been given a spirit of fear or timidity, but one of power, love, and clear thinking.’
If fears and insecurities start to niggle away at you during Freshers’ Week, know that you have been filled with the Holy Spirit. He is always with us, He lives in us, and He empowers us to do all things! Walk into Freshers’ Week with the boldness and power to be who God made you to be. I found that, during the week, staying in touch with people who really knew me: family or friends, also helped remind me that I was known and loved on a deeper level.
I have to admit I came close to tears every time I thought of Freshers’ Week. The prospect of leaving home and spending a week with people I had never met was overwhelming. But looking back it was so much better than I expected (and definitely not worth all the tears I shed in the weeks running up to it!)
I wish I had remembered that Freshers’ Week is made up of days as well as nights. The days are great opportunities to have chats with your flatmates, go to town and start to settle into halls. And the nights are fun too! I decided to go out every night with my flat (although we did enjoy a night in to watch The Great British Bake Off!). Going out was a great opportunity to be distinctive in having fun without drinking too much or not at all.
Galatians 1:10 says, ‘If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.’ This verse is a great reminder that it’s God we are serving, not our flatmates or friends and so we shouldn’t worry about fitting in.
The morning I left for university my Mum reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12:10: ‘For when I am weak, then I am strong’. My nerves about Freshers’ Week showed me just how much I needed to rely on Jesus - I was weak but He is strong.