Joe Winstone started university in October 2012, here’s his Student Linkup experience:
I'll always remember this first encounter with Student Linkup for how God used it to put me at peace about my university choice. With results day looming, university was all I could think about; I'd find myself constantly questioning whether I would get in, or whether this was even the right decision for me at all. I was at a seminar run by Fusion (who oversee Student Linkup) at Soul Survivor and at the end of the talk, the speaker up the front arranged the hundreds of us 'wannabe students' (or indeed us 'think we wannabe students') into where our universities are positioned across the UK, using the hall floor as a map. I went and stood somewhere vaguely north and met some others who had also applied to York Uni. It was then that the speaker from Fusion who had just given the talk walked over to us, introduced herself as Miriam and said she had studied 'Writing, Directing & Performance' at York - the very course and uni I'd applied to! God works through incredible ways and just on hearing this I was immediately put at rest about all my uni worries. I swapped contact info with Miriam and a few days later found out I'd got into York.
I received emails from churches in York telling me a bit about them and inviting me to check them out. What was nice about the contact was that it often came directly from the churches student workers or leaders, so I not only got info about a church but also direct contact to someone who understood us students and could help ease us in to a church.
Freshers term has been fantastic. For many it's the first real taste of independence they've ever had and this was no different for me. There was a major road accident on the journey up to uni, meaning that I arrived late and only had half an hour to get to know my 13 other housemates all of different backgrounds, nationalities and cultures before our introductory freshers talk. My first words to them were "could you help lift my stuff to my room (up four flights of stairs and on the top floor) please?"
Nothing can really prepare you for what's it's like; the madness of freshers week, living away from home, new course, a ridiculous amount of societies and freebies and having to learn the most names (and I mean THE MOST) you'll ever have to learn again. As a result, a Christian student (or any student for that matter) can often go one of two ways; either taking the plunge into just about anything and everything that comes knocking or shutting yourself away so you can maintain some sense of order amongst the chaos. This is all the more reason to set your 'culture' from the beginning. While there will inevitably be differences between the 'student culture' and your 'culture' in Jesus, that's not to say we should be locking ourselves away from Freshers week/term and all that it brings. I'd encourage any Christian student starting out at uni to go to events, go on nights out and have fun forming friendships and meeting new people. Yes Jesus makes it clear we're not 'of' the world, but we are 'in' it and we can use this as a chance to glorify Jesus through His being the culture we choose to set.
The reality is you'll hear of many different churches right from week one and sometimes even before you get to uni. There's likely to be many churches to choose from and if you're like me the only thing you have to worry about is not being able to make a decision easily. Through prayer and 'church-hopping' (visiting different churches during your first term) however even those that do find decisions hard should come to settle on a church in time.
What would you say to someone who was considering linking up?
Sign up! You'll be introduced to different churches and get student-centered support through email or in person on facing student life as a Christian. Having people who know all about moving to uni for the first time and have a heart for Jesus in your email list, and becoming part of a 'body' of Christians at a church, are both only going to help!