Wow– I survived my first month (actually, 6 weeks) of college. (Really, it feels like I have been living here for years.) Now, I want to update you on the expected, the unexpected, and all the in-betweens.
The first month in San Diego has been a lot of things– new, adventurous, overwhelming (at times), and so rewarding. I met my roommate when she walked in the door for the first time and we may be the “Parent Trap” sisters separated at birth. We have the same birthday (March 30th), our favorite color is blue, we both love fried rice and buttered noodles, we are both blonde, and our room decor matches, even though we did not plan it. I did get really lucky, given that our roommate assignments were random.
The adjustment to college is so different than what is expected. When you go into college not knowing anyone, you expect other people to be in the same boat and think that making friends will be easy. Truthfully, many people came to the University of San Diego not knowing anyone, but making friends is not as easy as it seems. Surely, I have made several friends and recognize familiar faces all over campus. Making friends is not the difficult part. The hardest part is letting people get to know you and taking time to build quality relationships because truth is, no one knows anything about who you are or who you were in high school. I think that is one of the weirdest things about college– you do not truly know a person in their entirety, even if you live with them for a month. You can learn a lot about them in a short amount of time, but you are both still growing up too. People change in college because they are forced to rely solely on themselves, make personal decisions, and ultimately, be independent. You have to do your own laundry every week, clean your own room and bathroom, organize your assignments, provide food for yourself for every meal, and maintain your mental health all at the same time. Maybe, some managed to do all of those things in high school, but it does get challenging when studying and midterms begin to pile up. My major is undeclared, so I feel overwhelmed at times trying to find my intended field of study because I truly want to pursue a career that I will love. I believe that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. Through this extreme adjustment, I must lean on the One who is with me through it all.
College is about discovering your true passions and pursuing them. It is also about finding yourself through these passions, hardships, and real independence. Personally, I have been trying to stay true to myself, but I suppose I could be anything I really want to be because nobody knows who I was before college. I want to follow Jesus and not stress over little things, like schoolwork and relationships, but it is hard to find others with the same pursuits. I came across a verse, not by coincidence, that reminded me why I am here. Mark 8:36 says, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” I could gain the “whole world” by going out with friends every night of the week, while studying excessively and maintaining perfect grades. I could spend money on the best clothes and I could date the good-looking, stereotypical frat boy. But if I attained all of that, would I would be satisfied? Or would I still be looking for more? Watching others pine after boys and complain about not being able to receive perfect grades definitely puts things into perspective. For a minute, I began thinking like the college girls around me. I began believing my worth was defined by my GPA and my social standing. I began thinking that partying and finding a boy to spend time with was all the mattered, especially on the weekends. I began thinking in ways that I had not thought in before– not for a long time at least. Gaining the whole world means nothing if you end up losing sight of yourself and the One who created you perfectly in his image. Remember, the Lord does not look on outward appearance, but on the heart. I do not have to wear the best clothes or look put together all the time, but I do need act more like Jesus.
Recently, I had the opportunity to make dinner and take it to Rachel’s Women’s Shelter in downtown San Diego with University Ministry. I made dinner at one of the leader’s apartments and met other students involved at USD. We took the dinner downtown and served it to the women of the shelter. The women were so grateful that we took the time to prepare the food and serve it to them, expecting nothing in return. I found that all the perceptions that we have about homeless people– that they are drug abusers or alcoholics, that they do not have jobs, and that they are unmotivated– were not true at all. The women were trying to get back on their feet and all had different reasons for being homeless. After we had served everyone, we had the opportunity to sit and chat with the women. I was a bit intimidated, but I saw a woman sitting by herself at a table, so I ventured over and asked if I could sit. She welcomed me ecstatically and introduced herself as Rose. I noticed she had a walked beside her chair and all of her belongings with her. As soon as we got to talking, she explained to me that she had a disability and was required to move with a walker. She had been living at the shelter for about a week and half due to tough financial situations that landed her at Rachel’s. She had two grown children, a boy and a girl, and was married to a man in the military. Although I never really found out what happened to her husband, she said that her children graduated from college and had stable jobs. Rose asked about me as well and was supportive of my hopes and dreams. My heart ached for this sweet woman as she told me that she kept to herself because she did not want to ask people for help all the time. She had bad days too, just like the rest of us. She also said something that struck a chord with me, “People are always talking, but they aren’t talking about anything.” Rose did not like the gossip or the small talk, but she liked talking about stories, endeavors, and serious issues in society. She made me laugh a lot during our conversation with her jokes about living in the shelter and living on the streets. Despite her circumstances, she was hopeful and laughing because that is all she could do. She is just like the rest of us– passionate about dreams or problems in society, seeking comfort and stability, and making the best of the situation.
As I was leaving the shelter, Rose looked to me with eager eyes and asked, “Are you coming back next week?” I told her I would come back as soon as possible and that is what I plan on doing. My perceptions were completely changed by this experience and I know that God has plans to use me in ways that are unimaginable. This was what I needed to be reminded of my purpose, which is truly God’s purpose. Each morning, I wake up and ask God to use me to impact the lives of others. I offer myself up to him, knowing that he is in complete control and trusting that he will make my paths straight.
While the first 6 weeks of college have required me to do a lot of adjusting, I have already learned so much and feel that I am broadening my horizons. I look forward to the new, eye-opening experiences and difficult trials. While I do not know exactly what my calling in life is yet, I know now that I am in the right place because of the work of God, and that he has the most amazing plans for my years here at USD.
Ephesians 1:18 says, “having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”