Who's afraid of the dark?

The sun sets much earlier in winter.

You’re walking home from campus in the dark. As you head out into the gloom the drip, drip, drip of dread gradually fills up the pit of your stomach. 

Part of you doesn’t want to go home. Because behind the door is another night out, another evening of drinking, freezing pilgrimages around town, lights on and banging doors at four in the morning, shouting, singing and sometimes pretty nasty exchanges between friends. 

It’s not that you don’t want to have a laugh and party the night away... but every night is just dragging you away from the group and into your own room of over-tiredness. You feel over-whelmed, homesick and a little bit guilty for not finding the main social activity of choice an attractive one. 

You are not alone. Freshers turning up to uni and struggling to join the majority in blindly accepting certain dominating student lifestyle choices as both “normal” and “the most fun” are not uncommon. They may have a quieter voice but they are out there in their thousands. I’m not just talking about Christians, who perhaps get stereotyped for not buying into the drinking/clubbing culture, simply because they are less likely to see the need to get hammered on a night out. I’m talking about all the freshers who never enjoyed the clubbing thing in sixth form, the freshers who are introverts for whom meeting hundreds of new people is exhausting, the freshers who weren’t even told that uni would mean this kind of evening’s entertainment after the sun goes down. 

I recently read this message from a student seeking advice:

I don’t want to be a spoil sport but they are so loud and drunk at night and it just makes homesickness even worse... I don't want to change flats but I'm just feeling a little homesick and uneasy. 

It's just exhausting and I'm always worried I wont get any sleep as they'll be up all night but at the same time I don’t want to seem like a spoil sport- I've invested in a good pair of ear plugs though! I guess what I miss is that at home you'd come back from a party and that would be it, but at Uni it all merges into one if that makes sense? I'm hoping things will calm down a little during term time.

In this blog post I simply want to do two things:

1. Give some air time to all the thousands of students who turned up to uni and were suddenly made to feel weird or boring because they didn’t comfortably go with the flow towards big nights out and binge drinking.

2. Give you the space to respond to the above cry for help from one such fresher. What advice would you give them? How did you survive living alongside a culture you didn’t  particularly enjoy or naturally connect with? 

Some of you will follow Jesus and have wisdom from your life and faith. Some of you reading this won’t have a God-perspective but will have been in a very similar boat. Either way, what would you say to the students who don’t actually love “the student culture”? Please use the comment space below.

Miriam Swanson

Global Student Mission Leader

Miriam helps equip the church for student mission internationally. She's based in the USA and hungry to see young adults follow Jesus with all of who they are. 

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