image: Single Sisters in University
Sisters! Meet Miss Rachel, a child of God since 1999; she holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music and enjoys hiking, singing, playing guitar, and writing song. In this interview with the SSU team, Rachel shares her experience as a former SSU living in dorms.
What kind of university did you attend and how did you prepare yourself (if applicable) before entering the “university world”?
I started at a Christian university where I studied for three years living on campus then transferred to a secular university for two and half years living off-campus. For me, it was just prayer as far as to going to the right school, I was so confident in my choice that I ended up not applying to any other schools when I first went to university. I visited the university for a music camp and met a lot of the faculty. I prayed about it and felt at peace going to the university. I think my parents and youth leaders did a good job giving me a personal foundation in Christ that was strong instead of me feeling as if I was thrown to the wolves. I have seen that happened with a lot of youth that have just been “borrowing” their parents’ faith instead of developing it themselves and when they go to university, they just fall apart because they weren’t living their own faith.
Did you face any challenges with your roommate(s), neighbors, etc. If yes, what were they and how did you overcome them?
I had a particular roommate that was not so good. I remember that was a really rough semester, there were a lot of tears shed, some screaming, and a lot of frustrations. That was a hard time overall, so I actually isolated a lot during that time. The resident assistants were really helpful because they would talk us through things, pray with us; had I not been in a Christian university, that probably would have played out a lot differently. I made it through the rest of the semester avoiding my roommate as much as possible because the communication was not going through.
What words do you have for any SSU experiencing challenges with roommates, neighbors, etc.
Pick your battles, because not everything is worth the fight. For example, it might just be that your roommate is used to leaving stuff on the counter which is a big issue for you. You can try to approach the subject once or twice to your roommate but if it becomes a fight, you really have to determine: is it worth the fight to have this improvement? And then, there are sometimes when you may have a roommate who is bringing guys in and you can’t compromise on that. You have to try come to an arrangement with your roommate by working things out because you don’t want to feel that you can never come to your room. If you do not feel emotionally or spiritually safe in your room, then you have to see a resident advisor to have a roommate switch and most of the time, they will work with you. Sometimes, campuses are crowded and there is no way to have a switch, so you might have to endure.
Usually on weekends, students in dorms go out to pubs, visit family, or go on a shopping spree. What did you do to relax?
I would go downtown with friends and stop at a coffee shop; we had the advantage to have our campus close to the river and mountains, so we would go hiking. I was also spending time with the people of my dorm. Since I was in an Arts school, I had the opportunity of going to different concerts for cheap rates through the student rush tickets, so I would say take advantage of that while you’re in school girls!
As an SSU, how did you resist temptations (e.g. bad company, deceitful men, worry, fear) coming your way?
My biggest struggle was anxiety. I take it as a blessing in a way because it prevented me from associating with people that were partying and it did protect me from getting involved with the wrong crowd. In another way, anxiety prevented me from getting involved with the right crowd and left me more isolated. Because of that, it led me to transfer to another school because I cut myself off from building positive relationships. At my second university, I started fresh by plugging in to a good Bible study, that’s something really important to get involved with a group of believers that can challenge you spiritually even if you think you are spending daily time in prayer with the Lord. It is crucial to find a discipleship group or a weekend worship service or else you are going to fall apart because you need those people that can keep you spiritually accountable.
How did you show Christ to your roommates in the dorm?
By showing grace with other people’s mistakes. The Bible says: “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” and that’s what I was doing. There were times when it was evident that my roommate was in the wrong and I was in the right but God says “love your enemies”. So, I had to remember the times when I made mistakes and how people had grace with me and held on to that. I would advise not to react in anger if there is something that needs to be addressed because it can escalate. The big key is that IT IS NOT PERSONAL. Your roommate is not probably trying to actively hurt you; if you are acting in love and your conscience is clear and she is hating you for some reasons you don’t understand, then there is actually no reason for her to hate. Your roommate is probably struggling with something else internally and as a result is taking her anger on you.
What lessons do you take from living on campus?
Get involved (which I didn’t do at first): If the people in your dorm are going to lunch, for example, and you’re not hungry, go with them anyway because that is a good bonding time. You might feel a little homesick and don’t want to see a festival happening around the campus, get out there anyway. After the first few months, you will settle in and see what works for you, but at least get involved in the beginning. Make sure you are going to church or are involved in a discipleship group. The times when I wasn’t involved with believers where those times where I wasn’t spiritually healthy: I didn’t fall away from God but I wasn’t spiritually growing. Don’t take things personal: this lesson applies to every situation in life (work, school, friends, etc.) because usually it is 99.99% of the time not personal. The Enemy might personally be attacking you through someone but Jesus defeated him so we’re just waiting to catch up on the end of the story!
Anything you would like to add?
I would say don’t underestimate the resources available on campus, i.e. the services that the campus offers, for example: the health clinic, counseling, resident directors, talking to your professors. If you are struggling with something, tell someone about it, and the school probably has a resource to help you. If you are in a place where you need counseling, try to find a pastor or Christian counselor because you need someone who understands the spiritual aspect. It is always good to keep your professors in the loop if you are struggling academically, they might be more helpful than you think!