Second Year Hopes
In many, many ways, it does not feel like I’m a second year. It doesn’t feel as if it’s been a year since I first came to university – and was faced with the daunting task of having to meet countless new people, introduce myself to these faces, and very often, answer the same three (or four) questions: “What’s your name?, Where are you from?, What are you studying? and Which halls are you in?”
Yet – somehow or other – a year has passed. And now, I’m the one asking those questions (though I do hope that I’m able to branch out, and not sound like a complete broken record). After a while, those questions do get rather tedious.
The chaos of Freshers’ week begins properly tonight – at least, it does for the CU. And before I get sucked into the madness: the madness of meeting new people, and catching up with friends who I haven’t seen for the last three months – I wanted to spend just a little bit of time thinking about what this next year could hold, and what some of my hopes and dreams (*please excuse the cliché phrase*) are for the next 9 months that I’m in St Andrews.
…….. well. There are two things I could say – and a few excuses I could think up… but none of them would really work. I did describe Freshers’ week as chaotic, and although I’m a second year, I haven’t quite escaped it. Evidently, I begun this on Sunday – and yet, here I am, on Thursday, trying to piece together where my train of thought was left, and grabbing a couple of hours to myself.
“Thriving, not Surviving.”
That phrase is banded around a fair deal, but I think that it sums up in just three words something I wish to aim for. Deep down – I have a real desire to be able to live through second year (and beyond), while experiencing even just a glimpse of the fullness of life that God promises us. To be taking each day, feeling put together, on top of things, and able to enjoy whatever comes at me – even the spontaneous (!!!)
As I see it, the alternative is surviving. Living each day as if you’re barely holding on, and you get to the end of the day totally done in, with no more energy. There are other ways of looking at it – whether it be trying to stay afloat but feeling like the pressures of academia are pulling you down, or your to-do list is too long, or just life in general – but whatever it may be – you’re not the one in control – whatever it is, is controlling you. Last semester it all definitely got a bit too much – and I felt like I couldn’t cope on a day to day basis. I don’t want to be back there – and I’m going to do all I can to avoid that.
I’m not entirely sure that there’s a “hard-fast” formula to ensure that you’re in the “thriving” camp. To be honest, I’m fairly certain there’s a few things that are essential – but they’ll look different for each and every one of us. One thing that is the same though – and something I’m challenging myself with, is the need to leave everything in God’s hands. To lay down the worries, concerns, emotions (yes, all of them), day to day life, friendships – you name it – lay it ALL down.
I don’t see how else we’re supposed to live, at least, to “thrive”, if we’re constantly feeling under. The only source of refuge that I’ve found is in God’s presence – nothing else comes close.
This is a continual challenge – I’ll tell you that much, but a large part of me thinks it’s incredibly worthwhile.
This next one isn’t so much a personal hope, but a shared one of our little ‘HARK House’. As we were reunited on Saturday evening after the three months of summer, we spent some time sharing stories, catching up, but also praying for the year ahead, and in particular, the opportunities we may have as a house.
Student housing is one of those areas that is a source of real stress and anxiety for many students nationwide, but especially in a place as small as St Andrews. That’s usually the story…but in our case, it was a wee bit different. We’ve been able to see God’s hand in the situation from the very beginning, and it’s a huge, huge blessing (not only last semester, but now).
Alongside wanting to live like a little family, we all have real dreams of our student house being like a home, and a safe-place for people. We want them to know they’re welcome, loved – and that the door is always open (metaphorically of course, we DO lock the door).
The house has had quite heavy footfall this week – but if we’re blessing people with food, cups of tea and biscuits, or just good chat – we feel like we’re doing this “hospitality” thing well. The sense we all got as we were praying was that we wanted our home to be a “safe-haven” – and so that’s one of my hopes, that it will continue to be so.
Rediscovering a Passion
Is it far too common to say that I ran out of excitement for history last semester? Granted, there were some extenuating circumstances – BUT: I’m really hoping that this year’s modules will give me not only a fresh boost of excitement about the subject, but introduce me to topics, areas, people – you name it – that I haven’t studied before. I’ve chosen modules in Modern, Medieval and Middle Eastern history – and I’m prepared and ready to have my mind blown.
…maybe not quite so ready for all the reading…but one page at a time, right?
I was reminded towards the end of the summer why I loved history so much in the first place – and thought it was so important that I have a half-written blog post about it…which hopefully will appear sooner rather than later. But – for me, history is about the individual stories – and as my lecturer said today, we have the gift and opportunity to unravel the many mysteries that studying history presents us with – and to me, that’s exciting stuff.
Plus – on a more practical note, I kind of know what this university lark is about this year (at least more than last year). I get another year to explore more history, to experiment with research, improve my essay writing – all before it counts. In my eyes, that’s a gift.
I want to challenge myself to go deeper in friendships with people. To cut past the small talk, and get to the things that matter. (Thank you Eilidh for teaching me this!)
To make new friends – but also to invest in the ones from before. To know and be comfortable in where I’m at – and that means not being friends with everyone. I know that for me, friendship is special. If I’m your friend – I’m going to do it properly, 110%.
I want to go deeper with God. To dig into His Word more – and to try and take the years of “head knowledge” and plant it deeper. To make it heart knowledge – because the combination of both is stronger when facing storms.
As the weeks and months go by – I know that there’ll be more things I realise, set new goals, re-evaluate, that kind of thing. But for now – I’m gonna start here.
Life isn’t always as dreamy or straightforward as it can appear on social media – and I know I’m as guilty as the next person in trying to pretend things are fine, when they’re really not. But, I’ve recently been reminded of just why I started writing in the first place – which was because I wanted to create somewhere honest and open online. And so over the next few posts, whenever they may appear, I’m going to endeavour to do just that – be real.
Until next time,