Before my freshman year, college was this great mythical story to me.
My older sister would come home during the holidays with endless stories of her college experiences and they matched pretty well to all the stories I had heard about and seen on TV and in movies. So naturally, I thought: this must be what college life is like and I can’t escape it if I want to have fun and live my college life to the fullest!
However, as a girl who wanted to actively try to live out the Gospel in her everyday life, this “traditional college experience” just did not match with what I wanted for my own life or my own college experience.
I felt stuck.
I felt like there was no possible way to have a relationship with God and to exist in a college atmosphere without feeling like I have to live two completely separate lives. How could I reconcile being the “Jesus girl” on campus with wanting a fun and memorable college adventure?
Well, it was easier when I decided what I wanted to get out of university and what would strengthen my relationship with God.
Having a Holy College Experience
Here are some things to think about that might help you live out your own unique college adventure.
Find Your Experience
There is a weird pressure on college students to experience college a certain way. And if you don’t, then you’re doing it wrong or you’re not having fun!
I’m the type of person who would rather have a game night, movie night, or a praise and worship night with a small group of friends rather than going to a big party with a lot of people—and that’s okay. It doesn’t make me boring and I never feel like I’m missing out on anything.
First and foremost, you are at university to study and learn. After that, you can choose what to do in your free time since you can choose the experience you want to have at university.
Let me tell you, there is no such thing as one college experience and don’t let anyone try and convince you that there is. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to have one specific college experience in order to have fun!
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Make Some Like-Minded Friends
Look into Welcome Week events! It might be intimidating to meet new people, but chances are they are just as nervous as you are to make a new friend.
Walk into your lecture (or into your Zoom call, thanks Covid). See that person over there? Talk to them! Introduce yourself!
Your best option would probably be to find your college chaplaincy and go to their events! Find out if they have Mass on campus or if there is a local church where fellow Catholics on campus go to Mass. I, for one, met one of my college best friends through my chaplaincy! They were hosting a movie night and they were showing the saint story of Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio.
We were best friends instantly (and still are to this day), and Saint Jose is still my favorite Saint!
This is not to say that you can’t have friends who are different than you (it’s actually encouraged); but when you have some close friends who are like-minded and strive for the same things that you do, you can relate to them in a way you may not with your other friends.
How do you stay convicted in anything? It has to be a choice. You have to actively choose each and every single day to want to live a life in Christ.
What does that practically look like?
1. Establish a consistent prayer life.
Make time in your day to talk to God. Ask Him what He wants for your life. Ask the Holy Spirit for the strength to choose God every day and to be convicted in that choice.
2. Read the Bible.
There are many women in the Bible to whom we can turn to for examples of pure, unwavering faith in our Lord and their choice to live that out (Ruth, Our Blessed Mother, etc.).
3. Read about the lives of the Saints.
Saint Joan of Arc, Saint Maria Goretti, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Therese of Lisieux, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Cecilia…the list goes on and on! All these amazing women who lived before us lived uniquely faithful lives and can be a great example of conviction for us today.
4. Receive the sacraments regularly.
They provide us with strength through the graces we receive in order to live a Christ-centered life.
Who is Setting the Expectation?
There are so many voices telling us so many different things, but in the end, we know only One voice matters: the voice of God. Now is the time to foster the skill of hearing God’s voice through prayer. Be convicted in what you believe even when the world tells you the opposite.
Four years later, I’m currently in my senior year. Did I have what some would consider the traditional college experience? Nope.
Would I change it? Not for anything!
So have your college adventure. It will be a beautiful part of your story! Take this season of life and live it out uniquely to your fullness.
What was your college experience like?
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Written by Samantha Cameron. Find out more about her here.