Did you know you can set the tone for your freshers experience?
Did you know you don’t have to just turn up and play along to the tune of whoever is loudest in your new group of housemates?
We are all nervous when we start Uni.
That first evening can particularly make you squirm as everyone is trying to judge what to do, where to go, how to pitch the first night out. The most vocal person with the I-don’t-care-what-anyone-thinks-of-me behaviour is unlikely to be as confident and in control of the freshers situation as they appear, we just all manifest nervousness in different ways. I didn’t feel nervous when I met my new house mates, however I did make everyone and their mum a cup of tea. So I suppose my nerves came out in a busyness and “helping people” kind of way.
Given that no one knows each other, you get a chance to pitch your freshers week yourself, to set the tone and standard of your experience. For example, if you have decided to be really clear in your behaviour from the off, that you’ll be playing along with drinking games only with diet coke, you can set that tone. Everyone else is nervous too, so any challenge to that choice is likely to be short-lived… you don’t know each other well enough to start a drinking debate.
Work-ethic is another tone you can either set, or end up playing along to someone else’s soundtrack. If you decide from the start that when lectures begin, you are going to attend everything on time, and protect time alone in your room to read and keep on top of your work, then you have set your own standard. Your mates have seen it from the start, they understand it to be what you do, they accept it.
Tricky moments happen when we let someone else tell us what the tone is for our uni experience… when we believe that “cool” housemate who says you don’t need to do the work because it doesn’t count, and “no one goes to lectures ” but instead sleeps until 4pm.
You may well have come across this phenomenal verse in the books of Romans, chapter 12 verse 2:
‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’
The author Paul writes this challenge in the context of living our lives to God, in worship to him, sacrificing our “good” ideas, for God’s best. As you turn up in your thousands for a new academic year, as you begin your Freshers weeks, I challenge you to ask God to transform your mind. Transform it from nervousness that ends up following other people’s standards out of insecurity; transform it from believing one way is “the done thing” and any other option is stupid; transform it from listening to other people’s playlists for university experience.
Instead I pray you are renewed by God to set your standard according to God’s best; I pray boldness for you to have a laugh on a night out without the aid of alcohol; for you to work hard as if you’re working for the Lord, and for you to create such a Jesus-honouring soundtrack to your first term as a student, that your mates catch on to the good thing you’re living, and join you in the dance too.