It may seem strange to you that I'm putting all my time and energy into being actively involved on this campus even though I'll only be here for another two and a half months. Why am I doing this you ask?
Well, I feel like no matter where I go, I want to leave my mark. Even though the University of Ulster-Jordanstown is about four times as small as the University of Minnesota, it can still feel daunting walking around and not knowing or even recognizing a single soul in this place. As my fellow Ambassadors and I will tell you time and time again, getting involved with clubs, societies, or sports on campus is a great way to meet others and to make the campus seem a little smaller than it actually is.
Although I was nervous to go out and start talking to people, I knew it was something that I both needed to do and wanted to do. I remember walking along the shore with another international student from Wisconsin, talking about what types of things we were interested in and what we wanted to do while we were here. The first thing that connected us was the fact that we both wanted to find a church in Northern Ireland. Both being Christian, we would not have been able to go four and a half months without going to church. We were definitely directed to the perfect church for us; allowing us to become really great friends with college aged students, as well as other older congregation members who have stepped out to help us in any way possible since we've been here. It's truly been a blessing.
Not only have I gotten involved with the church off campus, I've also been able to meet and get involved with other numerous activities on campus. The biggest club that I'm involved in is the Christian Union, or CU as they call it for short. If you know anything about Campus Crusades for Christ on the U of M campus, it is very similar to that. We meet once a week for praise and worship, then are able to listen to a sermon prepared by numerous people from around Belfast. I have met so many great people through CU and I look forward to going every Thursday evening.
I have also joined a Small Group, or Bible Study as they are sometimes called. This has not only allowed me to learn more about Christianity, but it has allowed me to grow closer to about ten people or so. These are ten people who I know I don't have to hesitate to call if I have a question, need an ear to listen or just someone to cheer me up.
Every Wednesday night, I have been going to an event called iCafe. This a dinner event put on by the Christian Union, which allows international students to join together and meet other international students, as well as students from Belfast and surrounding areas.
I have also joined the Sports Union. As a member of the Sports Union, I am able to participate in sport at Uni. I am also allowed to use the gym whenever I please. UUJ is known for their sports, so it's really cool to see so many great athletes in sports that I don't normally get the chance to see, especially galactic football, rugby, and field hockey.
Through these on campus clubs and events, I have had no trouble meeting people. It is a comforting feeling walking down the Mall of the university building and seeing someone I know almost all the time. So, I am living proof, that even if you are in a foreign country, it is very easy to get involved and meet people on campus as long as you step out and give it a chance. It helps that the Northern Irish really like the American accent!
Until next time...