As new students join your university they will be keen to make new friendships. You may want to consider setting up a buddy scheme – pairing new students with members of your CU. An “adopt a fresher” or “fresher link-up” programme will help new students to settle into uni life, become familiar with your town/city and help them to see what student life is like as a Christian.
Here are some ideas of what you can do if you do adopt a fresher:
The first time meeting with your adopted fresher may be awkward. After all, it is essentially a blind date of friendship! To help with this, you may want to consider doing an activity together as this may make conversation easier. Perhaps take them out bowling or to crazy golf? This is also a chance for you to introduce them to a local attraction or your 'spot'. Why not try something different and exciting? For example, some places offer axe-throwing alleys!
Try to offer a generous welcome and, if you can, offer to either pay for the activity or for the food/drinks. You may also want to group up with other pairs from your CU’s scheme and do a group activity, such as an escape room. More people mean fewer awkward silences.
Another way to make a new student feel at home at your university is to welcome them into your own house. Practice hospitality by cooking them a meal, or bond over making food together. Baking banana bread doesn’t just have to be a covid activity! You could also host a group event such as a board games evening or FIFA tournament. This works as a one-off event but you could also meet weekly by getting into a TV series together.
You don’t always have to go out to do an activity and hanging out at home doesn’t always have to involve food. Do you already have a hobby that you can introduce to your new student? Are you a knitter, embroiderer or crochet…er? Maybe you play a musical instrument and you’d like to have a jam session with your fresher? The new student may have a hobby that they can introduce to you or you could both take up something new.
Choosing a church can be a daunting prospect as students arrive at university as this will likely be the first time they’ve moved to a new church. Simply walking to church together can help take this stress away. You can also introduce your fresher to members of the church after the service. After a few weeks, try to help them consider which church to settle in and help them weigh their options through meaningful questions.
It is great to get to know your new students better, but you also want to encourage them to grow spiritually. A great way to do this is by reading the Bible with them. Maybe you could read a chapter of Philippians once a week for a month? Or why not read a Christian book together? A chapter a day in ‘The God of All Things’ is an easy yet edifying book for students at any maturity of faith. Or consider using an Uncover seeker study – this will help to grow their faith but also train them to lead their own study in the future. Use the time of reading and reflecting together to also pray for one another.
You can try each of these or something completely different. Remember that the aim is to welcome new students into your town and make them feel at home. Be the older sibling that they can come to with questions and concerns. Take time to invest in them and this time next year they might be ready to adopt a fresher of their own!
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