I grew up Catholic and was raised according to Catholic standards. I went to church every Sunday, received my first communion, and was confirmed. When I got to college, I thought I would continue to practice my faith as I always have. Unfortunately, things did not turn out that way. I lost touch with my faith and gave up hope for many things.
College was a tough time for me as I struggled with many personal issues as well as the constant stress and pressure of maintaining a good GPA. I easily lost touch with myself and my roots and got caught up in the stresses of life. I wanted to reconnect with my faith and meet a good group of friends, two things that were becoming more and more difficult for me.
As a masters student, I joined a student organization called Chi Alpha, which is a Christian community. By joining this club, I learned how important it is to stay true to your faith and your roots while studying.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stick specifically to faith – you can explore other facets of life such as spirituality or other avenues. This way, you can determine what works best for you. Celebrating your culture and upbringing while in college is an essential part of personal growth and happiness, and helps you become the fullest, most authentic version of yourself.
Being a member of Chi Alpha introduced me to a new spiritual journey that I am thrilled to be part of. I now love to worship with others and talk about my struggles through a religious lens. Along with feeling better, I’ve also met a lot of great people by joining this organization, and I’ve never felt more welcome. Every person in this organization has shown me kindness and acceptance, and I can’t be more grateful for that.
Every time I walk into a “Monday Night Live” meeting, I’m greeted by enthusiastic members who are glad I showed up and want to get to know me better. As a more introverted and shy person, he can be very hard for me to have the courage to talk to new people. As a graduate student in particular, being older than everyone else, I feel a bit uncomfortable about joining new organizations.
I almost feel like an old lady among the students even though I’m only a few years older! Chi Alpha made me feel welcome, even though I’m older and in a different phase of life. The events and being with the group is simply intoxicating. I can’t get enough of this organization and its amazing members.
I’m not writing this to try to impose Christianity on anyone – there are many other faith-based organizations on campus. My experience has been extremely positive and I firmly believe that joining a faith group was one of the best decisions I made in school. It’s nice to be around people who grew up in similar homes to mine and to have such a special thing in common. I encourage people of all faiths to celebrate it and find a community of people to come together with.
I started to doubt my faith in college, and it became harder and harder to hold on to it considering everything that’s happened in the world over the past few years. We were all in a dark place and most of us still are.
Faith was my light at the end of the tunnel and gave me new hope. I was able to learn more about how I want to practice my faith by being a member of Chi Alpha and I learned where I fit into everything. Having faith can bring new emotions and reassurance into your life. I feel loved believing that no matter what, there is always hope for things to get better.
Of course, faith is not for everyone. But all are welcome and encouraged to celebrate. It has become such an important part of my daily life and has given me the motivation to get up in the morning, truly becoming the best version of myself.
I was inspired to improve myself by being at Chi Alpha and celebrating my faith. I also got more comfortable with myself and met new people. But if you choose not to follow your faith, that’s just as well. It’s a personal choice and it won’t do you any good if you force yourself to practice. Finding light in your life is the most important thing you can do to improve yourself and your situation.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that finding a home in college will make your experience so much better. Sticking to your roots and exploring them more can help you try new things. Once you are comfortable with yourself and your environment, the world is yours. Your community doesn’t have to be faith-based, and you can find community and home anywhere on campus.
Julia Fuchs is a graduate student in the Department of Art History and studies cultural heritage and preservation. His column, “Interroger Jules”, is broadcast every other Thursday.
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