I’ve never liked planning. In fact, I used to think that plans were boring, as were the people who made them.
To me, random was better. Haphazard was fun. Why be so careful, you know?
Now, it wasn’t that I never planned. It’s just that my plans were rough, and my organisation was lacking.
I would think back to Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” I was wrongly convinced that planning wasn’t all that important. After all, things don’t always go as we want them to.
I realise now that I had misunderstood the verse. Oh how God showed me that I was greatly mistaken!
A FLIGHT OF FRENZY
It all started with my exchange programme last year. It was my second year of university, and I was to study in Sydney for five months.
Everything was ready, and I was all set to go in three days.
Or so I thought.
Three days before my flight, I was prompted by my university that I didn’t have a student visa.
I was confused. What did they mean I don’t have a student visa? I remember standing in my mother’s room as I read the email, frantically searching my personal inbox for the visa confirmation.
That was when I realised that my student visa had been rejected a month ago!
Apparently, I was supposed to visit the Australian embassy for a biometric scan. When I didn’t turn up, they prompted me again, but I had missed that second email too.
With just three days to my flight, I was in a frenzy.
I spent the next week desperately finding a way to get to Australia. We had been advised to apply for our visa six weeks in advance of our flight, and with school starting in slightly less than two weeks, I was really worried.
I didn’t want to miss the first week: I had hoped to spend exploring Sydney and more than that I didn’t want to miss a single day of school.
In the end, I rescheduled my flight twice, pushing it back by three days each time, hoping that the new student visa application would be approved quickly.
Those days when I waited for the visa were challenging. I tried many different ways to rush the acceptance process, making many calls and living in uncertainty.
It was an experience that changed something in me. A catalyst for my journey of organisation, planning and responsibility.
THOSE WHO FAIL TO PLAN…
God was faithful through it all.
I made it to Sydney one week late, but just in time for school. I learnt the importance of planning and responsibility, and grasped another two lessons:
- There is always a way out
- Striving to find a solution without seeking God is pointless
As it turns out, I could have entered the country with a visitor’s visa while waiting for the approval of my new student visa!
At the time, however, I didn’t see any other solution.
Through this experience and several other minor ones, God showed me the importance of planning. Now, I know that planning isn’t a pointless process.
Planning helps us to organise things and take charge of our responsibilities. Planning allows us to be more productive and helps everything flow smoother.
I had misunderstood Proverbs 19:21. We can have plans. We should have plans. We just shouldn’t hold on to them so tightly that we crumble when something doesn’t go as desired.
I realised that part of the reason why I was afraid to make plans was also because I was afraid of them falling apart. But then I realised — so what if they fall apart?
So I became able to accept unexpected changes as I relied on God for whatever I lacked.
STARTING UNIVERSITY WELL
You already know I wasn’t a planner. That’s why I’m thankful that university has helped me to grow into a better person, one more capable of handling tasks God has and will entrust to me.
If you’re about to embark on this new and wonderful journey as an undergraduate student, here are some quick tips I have to offer.
1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes (but don’t make careless ones!)
Looking back, I’ve made mistakes in university, not always choosing to do the best things. In God’s grace, however, these mistakes still served to help me grow as a person.
But some mistakes I’ve made were simply down to lack of planning and organisation.
Beyond the visa mess, I also failed to plan properly in Year 1.
I could have graduated with honours in 3.5 years with a Minor in French, but I had to make up for the random modules I took and so will graduate in four years instead. My grades could also have been better if I didn’t take those extra modules.
Having said all that, no one has a perfect university journey. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes as you learn. Mistakes can help us grow, so focus on doing your best, remembering to enjoy the journey.
Where you can, seek advice from seniors, such as people in church who have gone through what you will be going through.
2. Plan and organise
Planning is a must in university. It’s good for your grades and you’ll need to do it regardless if you wish to go on exchange or stay on campus.
You’ll also probably get a chance to choose what modules you want to take and that requires planning too!
You’ll need to do some research on modules you can take, and to make sure they fit into your university graduation requirements. Look for things that interest you and possibly play to your strengths.
If needed, look through forums for information on the module or speak to people who have already taken it if you are still unsure whether it’s a good choice.
Please, please don’t make the same mistake as me. In my first year, I didn’t plan at all. I just took a bunch of random modules that do not contribute to my graduation requirements.
3. Be open to trying new things and meeting new people
University can be a really fun time. I’ll be entering my fourth year soon, and I must say — I’ve had a wonderful time.
I’ve picked up hobbies, joined different clubs and made the most of the university’s study abroad opportunities. It’s been really fun.
Make the decision to prioritise God as number one throughout your university journey.
In university, you’ll get to meet a lot of random people and try different things. It’s true that the friends you make from university might not stay with you for a lifetime, but these brief encounters can still be precious.
If you would like to make meaningful friendships, keep the friendship going beyond the duration of a module. One way to do this is by finding opportunities for greater interaction over a longer period. This could be a club for instance, or staying on campus.
And when you meet people you can see yourself in a lasting friendship with, be intentional on catching up with one another. That’s important in sustaining the friendship!
Beyond these, be open to new things and new people and cherish the experiences you make.
More than anything, make the decision to prioritise God as number one throughout your university journey.
Rely on Him in all things, and He will make your journey a meaningful one, through both the good and challenging times.
For me, I saved time for God each week and each day. I made space for Bible study sessions outside of church (such as among friends and with clubs), and I made God a part of my journey by learning to lift every assignment and every important decision I made to God.
Eventually, it became a habit for me to pray before I did any work. I also learned to ask God for guidance as I planned for things.
Ultimately, no matter what stage of life we are in, God is number one. And as we give Him that most important place in our lives, He will only do us good.
Got the nervous jitters about freshman year? Don’t really know where to start? We’ve lined up two opportunities to help you get sorted before Year 1 begins.
- #BlessedIsTheFreshman | Cru Singapore‘s campus programme for freshies lets you meet freshies from other universities as well as Cru seniors who can help you navigate the weird and wonderful waters ahead!
- FRESHMEN PARTY | HOPE Singapore has specially tailored hangouts for freshies entering NUS, NTU, NIE, SMU, KAPLAN, SIM, NAFA AND LASALLE!
Finally, if you enjoyed reading this article, here are more great stories from our “Help, I’m a blur sotong” series below!
- Are you a planner? Why or why not?
- Which one of Jewel’s tips did you resonate with?
- How might you apply them to the way you organise your studies?