Many of you will just have moved, or be about to move into, your university accommodation. Whether you’re returning to a bedroom you have stayed in before, or moving into a completely new one, it is important that this space is somewhere you can be reflective and comfortable to continue working on yourself and your faith.
Lists of what you need at uni are often filled with items such as coat hangers, washing detergent and bin-liners (don’t get me wrong these are definitely things to pack!), but it can be helpful to think about some of those less ‘practical’ things, and more ‘homely’ things to bring. University can be stressful at times, so putting in effort now to make your room a space you can retreat to may help in the coming months.
Many people find lighting a candle creates an atmosphere for reflection and it can create something to focus on. Some university accommodation will not allow candles to be lit, so consider an alternative, for example a battery powered candle which can sit inside a tea light holder to give the same effect or a string of fairy lights.
What better way of re-connecting to your faith than spending a moment a day caring for something beautiful and natural! Quaker Advices and Queries 7 reads; “be aware of the spirit of God at work in the ordinary activities and experience of your daily life. Spiritual learning continues throughout life, and often in unexpected ways. There is inspiration to be found all around us, in the natural world…” Taking the time to care for a plant every day can be a good reminder of the beauty of the natural world. I have often been to a Quaker meeting where there has been plants in the centre of the table as a way to focus thought, and this may also work for you in your bedroom.
For many, listening to music is a good way to focus for reflection or prayer. Consider how best you can listen to music to do it justice. It may be worth having a small speaker in your room so that the quality of the music is clear. It may be that certain artists or types of music help you, so it can be distracting if you cannot hear it properly. Remembering comfortable headphones may also be a good idea, if you want to block outside noise, or you don’t want to disturb housemates.
Favourite readings or quotes
Perhaps there has always been a reading, quote, poem or advice which has helped to ground you or lead you through life. It may help to have this displayed somewhere. Consider the aesthetic value of this too - how can you display it in a way which helps your room feel like a new home? You may also find the creation of these quotes could be a good reflective time for you too. Perhaps consider ways you could do this creatively. For example, you may wish to create a background to write these on. Using ink, paint or pens can be an effective way to add a burst of colour. Making a collage of soothing images or pictures which inspire thought may work for you too. If you’re looking to begin learning something new (or perhaps you already know how!), you can use embroidery for these quotes.
Creating a smell which is calming can help to focus your mind. It may also help you in creating a space which you can retreat and relax in. If you can’t burn incense, room sprays are a good alternative.
This is not an exhaustive list, and there may be other things which help you. However, these are a few suggestions to not only make your room a space where you are comfortable to live for the next year, but also somewhere you can feel free to explore and reflect on your faith, in whatever way works best for you. Maybe before you leave for uni, or when you are next at worship, take note on what helps you focus and add that to your packing list! These suggestions are not just to help you re-connect, but are also ways to make your room your own. It is good to have a space which is a retreat, however you choose to do this. If you have any other suggestions please do pop them in the comments on social media!