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  • 7 lessons from University life

    Joel, who is just about to start his fifth year at Brunel, in his second year of part-time masters in Sport and Exercise Science, shares some pearls of wisdom from his time at Brunel.

    I have learned a heck of a lot—lots about myself and about life in general. I could have picked some more, but here’s seven bits of advice I would give to myself as a fresher!

    7 lessons from University life - primary image

    Photo by Pieter van Marion

    Get involved
    1) One little phrase I have for university and probably life in general is ‘you get out what you put in’. I know that’s not particularly catchy…but from my experiences, whether it’s church, a sports team or society, I would encourage you to get involved, show a willingness to be part of what goes, build relationships with people, and I guarantee you will reap the rewards of this.

    You can’t do everything
    2) Now just before coming to Brunel, I was convinced I would be able to do everything. I wanted to play four different sports, be an active member of CU and Christians In Sport, go to the gym, get stuck into a local church, get a first in my degree, get involved with musical opportunities, explore lots of places, and generally live a 40hour day in the space of 24 hours. This has generally been the case throughout my university life. I’m not being an old, boring 22 (nearly 23) year old student in saying this, but from experience—honestly, you can’t do everything. There have been numerous times when I have suffered from burnout (not the Xbox game); so, I would say, go for it, live uni to the full, have no regrets, but there might be times when you will need rest and say no. God took a day off for a reason; we should follow his example!

    Rub shoulders with those who you want to rub off on you
    3) Choose your friends wisely; they will shape who you are! That’s not to say to disassociate yourself with people you don’t like or disagree with, but surrounded yourself with people who you want to become more like and who will call greatness out of you.

    It’s OK to ask for help
    4) Now, I’m not trying to be a bad news barer, but there might be times at university when you find life hard! It’s just a fact. Based on my own experience and friends who I’ve journeyed with, there will be hard times, whether it be illness, temptation, struggle, stress, anxiety, panic, heartbreak, loss or depression. Now that’s quite a list I know, and I’ve experienced a fair few, but when times get tough you need to be open, to reach out to friends and have the humility to say: “can we grab a drink?” or “can you pray for me?”. Most importantly though, reach out to God. I think when times get hard, some of the biggest lies and deceits of Satan are to make us hide away and struggle alone. It’s a lie; choose to believe God no matter your situation!

    Love London
    5) Make the most of being near London, it’s a cool place! Where else can you travel from the canals of an Italian city (aka Little Venince) to streets full of oriental delights (aka ‘China town’) in less than an hour, or check out some of the best bands, shows, food, and animals (I’m talking about the zoo and aquarium not some fancy oriental delight) in the world, not to mention all the free museums and attractions.

    Don’t trust U2
    6) Now, listen up to what I’m about to say about buses. Don’t ever, ever…ever get the U2 bus from Uxbridge to Brunel. It says ‘BRUNEL UNIVERSITY’ all over the front, thinking it’s so clever, looking so big, so naturally as innocent fresher I clambered on—only a day later to reach Brunel. I’m not the only one to experience this trauma. I now live by Hillingdon hospital and never see anyone on that bus. I’m yet to discover its purpose in life. So some basic bus info to get you started that nobody ever told me: the U1, U4 and U7 go to Kingston Lane, the U3 goes to the pond, and the U1, U3 and U5 go to West Drayton (a distant land that I soon discovered wasn’t so distant in my second year).

    Put first things first
    7) My biggest advice to you would be to put God first. Lay your foundations deep. Build who you are on Jesus. To help with this I would 100% recommend investing your time into a church! Prioritise it, meet people, serve on a team, make a habit of being around on a Sunday, go to socials, go to the prayer meetings, and get stuck into a mid week group. It’s invaluable, and it helps you get out of the ‘student bubble’. I understand finding a church can be difficult, and so you might have to be prepared to compromise on some things, especially if churches near uni aren’t exactly the same as your home church or what you’re used to. I’ve really benefited from joining a church, and my friends who I have seen grow the most in their faith are the ones who have plugged into their local church, putting Jesus at the top of everything.

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