'Here are your new friends!'
I could have written this morning, in the emails introducing Student Linkups from each UK university to each other. That might have been awkwardly obvious though. It’s been a little emotional sending the introduction emails off and seeing the ‘reply all’ responses come back – individuals feeling in the dark for others who they can connect with, who might be part of their story in the great not-yet-known.
They might find lifetime friends amongst those email addresses, they might even find spouses – it wouldn’t be the first time. These could be the ones who provoke them to travel the world, introduce them to future business partners or whisper the truth of life to them and see them come alive. I hope they won’t stop with these Student Linkup friends though.
University is an astonishingly wide playing field when it comes to friendships. Societies, halls of residence, courses and Student Union activities provide countless opportunities to meet people and begin friendships that can shape and mould the people who graduate three or four years on.
I hope these freshers don’t stop with the fellow Christians they’ve been introduced to, but get stuck into a multi-cultural way of life at university. So often freshers find a niche and dig their heels in – it might be the music lot or the young entrepreneurs set or church. Not that there’s anything wrong in being focussed and spending three years with like-minded people doing activities you love. However, I wonder if many freshers miss out by not sampling more of a multi-cultural way of life – a bit of this and a bit of that – friendship circles that overlap and bring diversity to the university experience.
I think this is especially important for Christians who all too often get stuck in a cultural bubble of other believers and religious activities. Alternatively, many struggle to persevere with commitment to a church community if they are also really investing in sports or other areas of university life.
If you are a fresher this term let me recommend to you getting stuck in with a variety of communities at university. Don’t be afraid to mix your friendship groups. If you are a Christian, don’t think that God is only interested in your church or religious activities – he gave you gifts and talents to use in all manner of ways and has placed you in a wider community of people than just fellow-Christians. If you are tempted to skip the church option because your niche is elsewhere can I challenge you to think again and not miss out by restricting yourself to a narrow university experience.