Freshers week can be exhilarating, intense, and a little overwhelming. New friends, new flatmates, and a new field of study to get your head around. How can you embrace university life in its fullness, as well as living out God’s love?

1. See God’s beauty through the lecture

Universities are places of research, learning and new ideas. Whether you’re studying an arts, humanities or science subject, there will be plenty of opportunities to marvel at the intricacy of God’s creation through your studies.

As a scientist, you’ll have the chance to observe and understand the world around you in greater depth. You’ll come across countless ways in which God has knit things together, whether it’s a strand of DNA, the human body or the forces that govern the universe.

As an arts or humanities student, you’ll see the complexities of the human beings God has made. People are, as Francis Schaeffer put it, “glorious ruins” - simultaneously beautiful reflections of God’s character and deeply flawed.

2. Normalise talking about faith

When your flatmates or course mates ask about your weekend plans, don’t be afraid to mention church. Talking about church or CU early on can lead to natural conversations about faith. Your friends might be curious and want to know more then and there, or it might come up later in another context.

Either way, being open about how you spend your time and what you believe can help normalise conversations that go beyond the superficial. Taking the first step can feel vulnerable, but often this can help the person you’re talking to open up and share something of what they believe too.

3. Seek out those on the margins

Heading to uni can be an anxiety inducing experience for many students. Alongside huge change and upheaval, it’s also a time of deep uncertainty. Will I make any friends? Will I get on with the people I live with? Will I cope with the demands of my course?

Wherever Jesus went, he sought out those who were shunned and shamed. He chose to spend his time with the people on the margins of society.

As you navigate your first few weeks and months of uni, try to see those around you who might be lonely or struggling. Through your actions, show them that they are seen, known and valued. Follow in the footsteps of Jesus in showing compassion.

4. Be the life of the party

Maybe you’re looking forward to nights out at uni, or perhaps you’re feeling daunted by them. Either way, drinking and clubbing are staples of the student lifestyle for many in the UK.

As a follower of Jesus, going on nights out can be great opportunities to live out your faith in front of your friends in a way that is distinctive and countercultural. A chance to drink, but not get drunk. A chance to build friendships with people and have those conversations that somehow only seem to happen at 3am on a Saturday.

Nights out can provide opportunities to show the care that your friends might not get otherwise. Be the person that looks after people. Help your friends home, hold back their hair when they’re bent over the toilet and love them sacrificially in the places and situations that are difficult and unlovely.

Living this way in the middle of a culture that does the opposite can feel like swimming against the tide. Perhaps try going out in a group that includes another Christian friend to help keep each other accountable.

5. Embrace the debate, but win the person

University is such a unique time of life. It’s often a time when people begin the process of figuring out themselves and the world around them. They’re open to new ideas, wanting to come to their own conclusions about the big questions of life.

Mission weeks or events weeks run by the Christian Union can be really helpful ways of engaging your friends with these big questions, and how Jesus and the Gospel speak into them.

When Jesus spoke to people about who he was, he often countered their questions with more questions – ones that gently challenged their motives and got to the heart of the matter.

Asking good questions can be really powerful in conversations about faith. Listen more than you speak, and when you do speak, do it with love.

If you’re thinking about a year abroad as part of your course, you can find out more about OM’s student placements below! Put your degree into practice and live out God’s love in a new culture at the same time.

Student Placements