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The Blog of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
August 26, 2013
3 Reasons Not to Go Home Every Weekend
Your first week of college can be exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time. After the hundreds of introductions, way too many inquiries about what you’re majoring in, and table after table offering free food and free advice . . . maybe going home for a weekend sounds really nice.
I know that, for some of you, your family actually depends on you to come home to help with a family business or other family responsibilities. This blog doesn’t apply to you. Your reasons for going home are understandable (and we want you to honor your family).
But for those of you who are just entering college and still experiencing culture shock—where you begin to see all the things you don’t love about your new surroundings and are having a hard time adjusting—hear me out. Here are my top three reasons why you should not go home every weekend your first semester of college.
Reason 1: You’ll grow a ton on campus.
Believe it or not, your first semester can be one of the most foundational periods of your time in college. Not only are you figuring out who you are, but you are also figuring out what kind of friends you want to have and what your faith looks like—or doesn’t look like—now that you’re out on your own. Choosing to stay on campus over the weekend rather than going home means that you have space to start growing in new ways.
Over the years, no matter how old I get, I’ve noticed how easy it is to revert back to the familiarity of my family’s “normal dynamics” whenever I go home. When I’m in situations where I am stretched beyond words, however—for you that might be discussing the Bible with your Buddhist roommate over dinner, being willing to listen to a friend share vulnerably about their abusive childhood, or inviting your agnostic friend from the dorm to come to InterVarsity or study the life of Jesus together—I am forced to depend on my faith to guide me in how to love those around me as Jesus would. Loving our parents and wanting to spend time with them is good—but going home every weekend can become a hindrance to what God wants to do in your life.
Reason 2: College is fun—don’t miss out!
Road trips, pranks, volleyball tournaments, three-hour-long coffee shop conversations, frisbee (at midnight) . . . Your freshman year can be a lot of fun. And people naturally bond over fun. Even if you don’t know anyone on your campus when you first arrive, friendships with your college peers will be some of the most transforming relationships of your life.
One of my friends from college, Melissa, has been nothing short of one of the most honest and deep friends I’ve ever had. Over the years, we have had so many great conversations over lunch and have bonded over music and movies. Mel has taught me what grace, perseverance, and seeking God in truth look like. To this day, even though we live miles away from each other, we still have that deep connection and continue to pray for one another and encourage each other via phone and Skype.
I also remember the second week of my freshman year when I found InterVarsity and decided to get involved in a small group. Our small group leaders organized a photo scavenger contest, and some of the incredibly ridiculous (but fun) things that we had to do were to smash an egg on somebody’s head, give a complete stranger at the grocery store a shoulder massage, and wrap someone completely in toilet paper. While these things may seem ridiculous, the purpose of the activity worked—it bonded our group in a way that we could never forget.
Reason 3: Jesus wants you to own your faith.
Many people, especially those whose parents raised them to know and serve Jesus, identify college as the crucial time when they really began to own their faith. It’s a unique time to figure out what faith in Jesus really means and looks like in your life (not just your parents’).
So find a group on campus where you can ask your questions and name your doubts (especially the questions and doubts that you don’t feel like you can ask your parents) and start figuring out who Jesus really is. Study the Bible with friends. Investigate the claims that he made about himself and the world. Talk to other students about their faith journey. Spend time with them to see how their faith in Jesus influences their day-to-day life.
You’ll find that Jesus isn’t afraid of our doubts or fears or questions. He loves to engage us on our level. You’ll also find that those who learn to own their faith become more passionate and alive in general, because their faith has become more personal, meaningful, and real.
Leaving campus might be fun, but staying on campus and choosing to build friendships where God has placed you in this season of your life will help you take ownership of your own faith.
Embrace Your New Adventure
Coming to college is a huge new adventure no matter who you are. What your freshman year looks like is up to you. A few practical tips might be helpful in resisting the temptation to go home every weekend:
- Consider not taking a car to college your first semester.
- Early in the week, make Saturday plans with friends on campus.
- Gather people to eat or study together over the weekend.
I hope that you take a chance and get to know people in your dorm, in your classes, and in the Christian fellowships on your campus. You can even initiate—organize some fun and see a new community of friends grow and flourish!
Amy Hauptman is a writer on InterVarsity’s communications team. She is a former campus staff worker at UC Davis, the University of Nevada–Reno, and Truckee Meadows Community College. The three driving forces in her life, besides her love for coffee, are to see, learn, and enjoy as much as possible. She also blogs at amyhauptman.blogspot.com.