Starting Off Well
I came into freshmen year at UGA knowing a grand total of 7 people in Athens. I knew that it was going to be a different experience, but I knew that it was where I was supposed to be. I rushed and dove into my sorority. I found a group of friends that loved Jesus and didn't do the party scene, so getting involved at Wesley was an easy, almost natural progression. I spent a good amount of time trying to get a feel for being in college, but that eventually came with time. The entire first semester was a period of transition into a new phase of life that was good, bad, awkward, and full of great stories! But the good thing was that I eventually got the hang of it, it just took some time.
Finding Your Passions
I came into UGA as a dietetics major and loved it to start. But when O chem came, it completely kicked my butt and I realized that I didn't have the desire to push myself through to the end of the class. I didn't care enough about the science and I cared about the people it would impact. I learned about social work and knew I wanted to switch my major. I learned that it was okay to seek after what I was passionate about because God gave me passions for a reason. He speaks to us through those passions! If I could tell you one thing about your major- don't freak out! It's going to be okay and the Lord is bigger than what you major in. He's going to use you and you wont derail that with your choice of major.
Go After God In This Time
College is a special time when I have seen the Lord pour out so much of himself on those who seek him. I think this phase of life is just a time where the Lord really honors the time we give him. I knew that it was important for me to get involved somewhere that I would have someone in authority over me, whether that means a small group leader or discipler. I knew that I needed someone who was personally investing in me and would share wisdom with me. Whether that's in a campus ministry or local church, getting involved is what the difference was for me. I found community that would constantly point me to God. That is what I needed as I faced all of college. Each year has it's own challenges and I was able to have consistent friends and mentors that cared enough about me to point me back to the Lord. I would not have been who I am today if it weren't for the people around me. So hear me when I say this: to set yourself up well spiritually in college is to find community that will point you to Jesus. If you do nothing else, do that.
You Get to Live In ATHENS
Something to be excited about it that you live in ATHENS! This town is so cool! It has so much to offer. My first piece of advice is to make a restaurant bucket list and go around with your friends and family and test them out. Athens has so many random little treasures, so get adventurous. I'm a big fan of groups of people getting together and doing things together, and Athens is rich with opportunity for that. I love going to the farmers market on the Saturdays, and if you're in town over the summer (or even if you're not you should come back for this), AthFest is so much fun! You get to experience so many different people and listen to some good music! Soak up what this city has to offer, because it is truly one of a kind!
Doing Summer Well
As I went into my first summer after college I wish someone had told me how different it would be to go home. I went home and ended up arguing with my parents a lot because there was a weird tension of their place of authority in my life. I was used to answering to no one, and now they wanted to know everything I was doing all the time. We had to have a lot of conversations about what it looked like for me to be home but more of a visitor. I also wish someone had told me that I would really have to fight for my relationship with the Lord in a different way. I didn't have the same community at home as I did in Athens, so I felt like it was in a desert season. Just because I wasn't constantly around people who were wanting to have a worship night, or going to freshley every Monday, didn't mean that my relationship with the Lord was less. It just looked different, and that was a lesson I wasn't prepared to learn. So, when I came back to Athens in the fall I felt drained and not prepared for the year ahead. But the cool part is I learned that when I put the effort into seking him, he's going to meet me. So if you're like me, I encourage you to have some kind of devotional that you can do each day. Maybe have some friends from Athens do it with you and you can talk about what you're learning together. Then you don't feel like you're completely missing out on your friends lives, and you are growing spiritually.
College is exciting! I know you hear over and over that freshmen year is the best and how people wish they could be freshmen again, but the reality is that with the Lord, it's always getting better. So you can rest in the fact that with the Lord, your future is going to be good.
- Laura DeGroot