In your first year of college, you learn a lot about yourself and it is the beginning of the way of shaping the path you will continue for the rest of your life. First semester of college: new scenery, new people, new school, new lifestyle, new ideas, everything is new. Growing up in the church and attending all the services from vespers, midnight praises, to Bible studies, the youth meetings and the Divine Liturgy every Sunday and the occasional weekday, I was exposed to all the services the church had to offer and I took them for granted. When you attend everything, you start going through the motions sometimes: standing for a three-hour mass, singing psalms and hymns till your mouth starts to hurt, etc. Everything begins to be repetitive and that is when you start to decipher the deeper level of the church.
Once I stepped foot into my apartment for the first time after I was moved in, I began with a prayer for God to bless this year and to keep me always on watch for His signs. I did this prayer willingly and I knew it was for my benefit. As the semester went along, my prayers became less consistent and my Bible readings declined as well. Growing up with a church nearby and a priest accessible, living in my own home, was the greatest blessing to me, but moving out was when I truly recognized it. My prayers were done on my own time; I did not have the luxury of praying with my family in the afternoon and reading the Holy Bible together. This first year taught me to be more independent and to take my spiritual life seriously as it is the life which is the gateway into what is eternal rather than temporal; taking that seriously will allow you to take the rest of your life seriously.
In conclusion, college is where you find yourself. You can go in one of two directions: either you grow closer to the church or you stray away. It is where your relationship with God becomes stronger or you become estranged to His name.