A Fresh(er) Start: Going To University

Author: Joe Fava

Picture: Shutterstock

A Fresh(er) Start: Going To University

Joe Fava offers some top tips for those leaving home to go to university.

Before leaving home to start university in Sheffield in September 2016, I took a gap year, working in India with Mother Teresa’s sisters, being involved in Christian missions and living in Cor et Lumen Christi community, where I grew up.

Working in other people's ministries meant I had an established structure and anointing to tap into.

At university, having the discipline to establish that structure myself was, therefore, more of a challenge.

Even getting into good habits like regularly visiting the launderette and getting up for lectures took time.

Thorns Of Worldly Life

Jesus speaks in the Parable of the Sower about the seed being choked by the thorns of worldly life.

When I first left home, I took my foot off the pedal and coasted a bit.

I soon realised I had lost something of the joy of the Lord I had previously lived in.

I remained faithful to prayer and going to Mass, but it seemed much less alive than previously.

I found myself thinking: “God, where are you?” University culture can be quite colourful and, at times, quite dark.

The emphasis on drinking, drugs and casual sex can certainly be an oppressive environment as a Christian.

I found myself wanting to fit in with my university friends at the same time as trying to live radically for God.

A Daily Routine

Talking to mentors, and through God's grace, I realised the dryness was due to the lukewarmness that had developed in my life.

The journey then began of returning with my heart to my prayer life and striving to follow Jesus with everything. He wants the very best for us.

Something that really helped was establishing a daily routine. I tried to get to bed on time, attend my lectures and go to the local Cathedral afterwards.

As I am easily distracted, I decided to work at the library, where I could be more productive. I did not always manage to succeed!

Volunteering really helped me. University life is very self-centred, so serving others is really life giving. This improved life for me dramatically.

Sometimes it is not easy being away from home. It can be lonely at times. Don’t be too disappointed if you are not having “the time of your life”!

Get Involved

I would encourage people to socialise, pursuing interests, getting involved in sports or going to the pub.

Try to find people who share your passion for God and understand you as a person.

Though this is hard, it is vital to have other Christians around you. Also, remember to call home now and then.

God wants us to enjoy ourselves at university. He calls us to put Him first in everything, whether in a bar, a lecture theatre or church.

Jesus says we cannot serve two masters. God calls us to serve Him in everything and to have life to the full, for His glory.

A Valuable Lesson

One piece of advice to someone starting university is this: know what you actually want to do and put yourself in a position to achieve it.

This was a valuable lesson I took from my first year. We need to lead the life God calls us to, not the life we simply drift into.

I believe God wants Christians at university to be on fire for Him. Over my first year I have found people who really love God and I enjoy being around.

It can be painful, but you face your weakness. When God brings you through, it is truly glorious.

From day one, do not compromise yourself. Stay on fire for your faith unashamedly and set universities alight with God’s love.

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