Dear Gemma

If you could write a letter to yourself as you started uni, what would you say?

Dear little Gemma,

How are you doing today?
Did you leave your room yet, or are you avoiding that shared kitchen again? 

I know.

The bed is warm and this room is safe; even if someone knocks on the door, you can just pretend you’re asleep, or that you’ve gone out.

I know.

Longing to be heard, but too exhausted to explain and fed up of superficial conversations: it’s easier to just stay here, right?
But let me tell you something…

Gemma, you love people. You love company! Trust me. Go and get that cup of tea you’ve been putting off for hours; when you find someone in the kitchen, don’t just greet them awkwardly with an obligatory smile. Ask them about their day, offer them a biscuit, tell them about the book you’ve been reading, whatever! Trust me. There’s not one time I did this and regretted it!

… Still here?

I know. It’s just not that easy, right?

Okay then, little Gemma. I’m here. What do you want to know?
Oh, come on, you know I’m not giving you that kind of spoiler! It’s tough, I know, but you really will be glad if you wait that one out. Trust me.

Tell you what; let me tell you something that will happen, something you’ll hardly dare to believe right now.

Gemma, you’re going to absolutely love York. Like, really love it! You’ll get to know your way around those winding little streets and there’s a whole world of independent coffee shops you’re going to explore. I know you don’t think nights out are ‘your thing’, but soon you’ll hit those clubs without a drop of alcohol in you and discover how you can love them! You’ll have dinner with people living on the streets, who are hidden from the tourists’ sight; you’ll get to know parents and students and kids and graduates, and eventually an elderly lady will become one of your dearest friends. You’ve come to more than university, more than a new city. There’s a family for you here.

I know, right now you feel like quitting. I know that every time you visit home, the thought of coming back to this dreary room in a bland, concrete block of halls fills you with dread. Just hang in there. For now, keep getting out of that bedroom; even when you can only make it as far as the kitchen. By the way, the sooner you cook a massive spag bol for all your housemates, the better. Everyone will love it! Don’t go and wait until June like I did, by then it’ll be too late to share another meal.

Trust me. Soon, there’ll be places in York that you treat like home. There’ll be people that become your family. I’ll leave you to discover how it happens, but do you want to know the best bit?

Everything you’re looking forward to is just the beginning.

Big love and big dreams,
From a still-pretty-little Gem x

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. 

Partner with Miriam