You may have mixed feelings about being at uni during a pandemic. Happy to be with friends and grateful you can just roll out of bed for 9am online lectures, yet disappointed with restrictions: one-way systems on campus; limitations on sports teams and societies; nightlife curbed and large house parties taboo; more virtual than in-person events; and being confined to social ‘bubbles’. Without a ‘traditional’ uni experience it may be tempting to write 2020-2021 off. However, this year doesn’t have to be a dud, it could even be the making of you. Here are 4 reasons why.
Investing in relationships well
Being in a bubble, or limited to small or one-to-one gatherings, means you have an amazing opportunity to really invest in a set group of people instead of spreading yourself thin socially. Instead of becoming absent you can spend significant time growing relationships that aren't dependent on uni norms with people. You can journey alongside and disciple one another more attentively, seeing vulnerability and accountability flourish. You have the chance to look beyond interests and inconvenience and to selflessly love and serve those around you. Jesus actively hung out with and loved even the most difficult of people, but because He did they were made known. So instead of retreating to our bedrooms why not make the effort to engage while we can?
This pandemic presents a great opportunity to sow seeds in our mates’ lives, gently pointing them towards Jesus. Let’s not assume people won’t be open! Where everything has been disrupted and anxiety is high, people are looking for hope and purpose more. The fact 1 in 3 young adults watched a religious service online during lockdown shows this. As a Christian you can be that voice of hope and purpose, that point of support that shows someone God loves them. So embrace the difficult conversations or offer to pray and read the Bible with friends, invite them to watch online church in the living room, and invite them into Christ-centred community like small group - even if it’s initially online or socially-distanced.
Setting new rhythms
It’s easy to fill time, whether it be maintaining a busy social life, being on multiple Execs or church teams, endless course reading, or completing Netflix. However, Coronavirus has made most of us less busy, and this is likely to remain the case for a while. Where the pace of uni life may normally mean we struggle to instil the rhythms we want to - spiritually, physically, emotionally - this pandemic gives us more room to put these in place. Praying or fasting, worshipping, reading the Bible and books, taking a Sabbath, exercising, getting outside more, making it to small group regularly, whatever it is, grasp this chance to reset your time before commitments and excuses rack up.
Getting creative and taking initiative
Chaos provokes creativity and new ways of doing things. This could be indulging a hobby or trying something out, or coming up with fresh ideas for how to socialise and build community, share faith and engage in student mission, and run things at church and small group. So take the initiative and suggest things! Vice-Chancellors and SUs don’t have a perfect formula for how unis should work now, and neither do Student Workers for student ministry. You have the scope to be a co-creator, shaping both student mission and your Uni experience for the better. Everyone has something unique and important to bring, and being at uni in a pandemic is a great time to contribute.
Photo by Anshu A on Unsplash.