Sitting down to write this post brings back to many memories about my university days. I miss the excitement leading up to going away to uni - all the time I spent daydreaming about moving away from home had paid off. It worked! I was actually moving away from home and venturing off, like Bilbo Baggins, on my own adventure. Unlike Bilbo Baggins, I never read the small print and got myself in some fairly sticky situations... Don't get me wrong, I never had any awful experiences at uni but my expectations were so different from reality and nothing prepared me for the harsh transition from my cosy, stable family oriented environment to my new digs with people I never met. I'd like to share some tips about making the most out of your university experience as a young Christian, some of which I wish I'd done myself:
Don't be shy - this will get you nowhere. I experienced a shock to my system on my first night when my mum and siblings drove off and left me with people I'd never met. Thankfully, there was one other girl who was the same as me and we bonded over our mutual shyness. The next few weeks were spent putting all my energy into striking conversations and getting involved in conversations that were interesting to me. I was very observant during these weeks to pick up clues about people I knew didn't share the same values as me. Don't get caught in the trap of making your first friend at uni your best friend, until you know more about them.
Join your campus Christian Union (CU) - This will help a lot with finding like minded individuals who share the same faith as you. There are also lots of church organisations that hold campus services especially for students to make church more accessible for students.
Keep in touch with your family - don't get so excited you neglect to keep in contact with your loved ones. I made arrangements to speak with my mum almost everyday to begin with, until I had settled in and made some new friends. Your family (read parents) will be concerned and will have to get used to not knowing your whereabouts so will probably be overbearing with their calls and messages for the first few days/weeks. Humour them - it's as nerve-wracking for them as it is for you.
Spend wisely - I probably should've put this first. If you don't already have the habit, develop a habit of budgeting weekly/monthly. Don't spend what you don't have and please (PLEASE!) don't get a credit card. The next 3 years are not for you to spend what you don't have - credit card companies will throw their cards at you but don't fall for it. Unless you have a good budgeting habit and have a source of income (not student finance only), I would advise you avoid anything credit related. Student overdrafts are usually interest free and would probably be your best option if you were in a jam.
Take your studies seriously - don't get caught in the trap of missing lectures and thinking they don't matter. One of the best things I did with regards to my time at uni was join a study group with people on my course. This helped so much because talking about those difficult topics is sometimes better than just reading about them.
Be safe - as a young female in an area I wasn't familiar with, I never went out alone when it was dark and even when with friends, I always avoided alley ways. We always went out in large groups and made sure to look out for each other and never left a (wo)man behind.
Be first - haha. This one makes me laugh now but the struggle was real back then. for the first few weeks at uni, I lived in shared accommodation because it was cheaper and I didn't really want to spend all my living allowance on accommodation. I didn't enjoy having to share the bathroom with 7 (!) others when the cleaners only came in once a day so timing was key. I quickly learned that the cleaner came first thing and at that time, most of my flat mates were still asleep so my alarm was set to the time she came in. I would try to be the first to use the bathroom after she cleaned up and when this got tiring, I arranged to exchange accommodation with another student.
ENJOY! - Finally, enjoy every single moment of your time at uni. It's a unique experience that you will love and hate all at the same time and you don't want to miss a single moment because trust me, you will miss it when you're done!