Advent Reflection

Advent Reflection

Things are never perfect your first Christmas away from home, but they can be good.


For an Emory student such as myself, Christmas isn't always "the most wonderful time of the year". Being a newly-minted college student during finals season meant spending December nights staring wistfully out of the upper-story library windows instead of caroling, or counting the emotional breakdowns rather than the days till Christmas.

I had recently said goodbye to my cozy hometown of Alkmaar, the Netherlands, and that meant losing a plethora of lost Christmas traditions - opening presents at my godparents' across the street, eating Vlaamse Frites in the light-strung streets in Haarlem with my father, and pelting snowballs at our church's sign after the carol service. During the Christmas season, there's no place like home —and my home, with its evergreen wreath we would hang on the stairwell and its glowing candles on the windowsill was thousands of miles across the ocean. I was left without the trustworthy friends and almost-family, who would faithfully celebrate Christmas, year in and year out, with my family and I. It was no wonder that my Christmas season was feeling less ho-ho-ho and more hopeless.

Mere days after a crushing realization that I was celebrating Sinterklaas, Dutch Christmas, away from home for the first time in more than a decade, the light of saving hope streamed through my life through the concept of Advent. Sitting in Passion City Church that Sunday, I came to realize that the Christmas season did not mean that my life was supposed to look as pristine as a scene on Christmas postcard. Advent instead meant hope and expectation, and like Mary, the shepherds and countless more roles of the Christmas story, it was my turn to wait faithfully for things to be made right and to trust that "the real Light was coming into the world".

And maybe, in a round-about way, my world had been filled with light all along. Maybe I didn't get to sing carols with my old church members, but I got to hear my roommate perform in a beautiful Christmas concert. Maybe I didn't exchange presents with my godparents, but I exchanged Secret Santa gifts with my new friends—Christmas tree, hot cocoa and all. Maybe all it took to rekindle Christmas magic was decorating the dorm with tinsel, building a gingerbread house with a new friend, baking Dutch pepernootjes for my friends, eating way more cookies than I should have at a Christmas party, or tasting apple cider just like my mom's. Sure, my new college life was never perfect, but I could never dismiss the glow of friendship and family that had ignited over the course of a few short months at Emory.

Maybe it was time to stop questioning and to realize God had already provided all that I needed. It was time to look forward in hope and confidence and trust for all the light that will continue to shine in my life.

Popular Right Now

To The Nursing Major During The Hardest Week Of The Year

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.


To the Nursing Major During Finals Week,

I know you're tired, I know you're stressed, and I know you feel like you can't go on. I know that no part of this seems fair, and I know you are by far the biggest critic of yourself. I know that you've thought about giving up. I know that you feel alone. I know that you wonder why in the world you chose one of the hardest college majors, especially on the days it leaves you feeling empty and broken.

But, I also know that you love nursing school. I know your eyes light up when you're with patients, and I know your heart races when you think of graduation. I know that you love the people that you're in school with, like truly, we're-all-in-this-together, family type of love. I know that you look at the older nurses with admiration, just hoping and praying that you will remain that calm and composed one day. I know that every time someone asks what your college major is that you beam with pride as you tell them it's nursing, and I know that your heart skips a beat knowing that you are making a difference.

I know that no grade can possibly prove what kind of nurse you will be. I know that no assignment will showcase your compassion. I know that a failed class doesn't mean you aren't meant to do this. I know that a 'C' on a test that you studied so. dang. hard. for does not mean that you are not intelligent. I know that no amount of bad days will ever take away the empathy inside of you that makes you an exceptional nurse.

I know that nursing school isn't fair. I know you wish it was easier. I know that some days you can't remember why it's worth it. I know you want to go out and have fun. I know that staying up until 1:00 A.M. doing paperwork, only to have to be up and at clinicals before the sun rises is not fair. I know that studying this much only to be failing the class is hard. I know you wish your friends and family understood. I know that this is difficult.

Nursing school isn't glamorous, with the white lab coat and stethoscope. Nursing school is crying, randomly and a lot. Nursing school is exhaustion. Nursing school is drinking so much coffee that you lose track. Nursing school is being so stressed that you can't eat. Nursing school is four cumulative finals jam-packed into one week that is enough to make you go insane.

But, nursing school is worth it. I know that when these assignments are turned in and finals are over, that you will find the motivation to keep going. I know that one good day of making a difference in a patient's life is worth a hundred bad days of nursing school.

Keep hanging in there, nursing majors. It'll all be worth it— this I know, for sure.

So, if you have a nursing major in your life, hug them and tell them that you're proud of them. Nursing school is tough, nursing school is scary, and nursing school is overwhelming; but a simple 'thank-you' from someone we love is all we need to keep going.


A third-year nursing student who knows

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

To The High School Graduating Seniors

I know you're ready, but be ready.



I am not going to say anything about senioritis because I was ready to get out of there and I'm sure you are too; however, in your last months living at home you should take advantage of the luxuries you will not have in a college dorm. The part of college seen in movies is great, the rest of it is incredibly inconvenient. It is better to come to terms with this While you still have plenty of time to prepare and enjoy yourself.

Perhaps one of the most annoying examples is the shower. Enjoy your hot, barefoot showers now because soon enough you will have no water pressure and a drain clogged with other people's hair. Enjoy touching your feet to the floor in the shower and the bathroom because though it seems weird, it's a small thing taken away from you in college when you have to wear shoes everywhere.

Enjoy your last summer with your friends. After this summer, any free time you take is a sacrifice. For example, if you want to go home for the summer after your freshman year and be with your friends, you have to sacrifice an internship. If you sacrifice an internship, you risk falling behind on your resume, and so on. I'm not saying you can't do that, but it is not an easy choice anymore.

Get organized. If you're like me you probably got good grades in high school by relying on your own mind. You think I can remember what I have to do for tomorrow. In college, it is much more difficult to live by memory. There are classes that only meet once or twice a week and meeting and appointments in between that are impossible to mentally keep straight. If you do not yet have an organizational system that works for you, get one.

I do not mean to sound pessimistic about school. College is great and you will meet a lot of people and make a lot of memories that will stick with you for most of your life. I'm just saying be ready.

-A freshman drowning in work

Related Content

Facebook Comments