Last week was the beginning of the semester, with classes Tuesday through Friday. Each of them has me excited for what the rest of the year will bring!
My medical ethics class is heavy into philosophy, which I think is always fascinating and fun to read. Then there is my reproductive physiology and development class that reminds me a lot of neurobiology/cell biology/intro biology from Iowa State! Ecology is gonna be a blast since the main grade is a research proposal much like I have done in several previous classes in the states. Finally, there is my health sociology that likes to dig deep into where the medical profession falls into the discussion of sociology. All of them are going to require a lot of reading, but I’m more than willing to expand my knowledge each week while I’m here.
Thanks to my new friends from Hunter Bible Church (who organize UniChurch each week on campus), I’ve been blessed to get involved in the Connect Series and Reality Bible study in the residence halls. The Connect Series is a 5 week program to help new people to HBC gain a greater understanding of God’s purpose for our lives and our relationship with Him. After just one session, I had a half dozen new friends who helped me mature as a Christian. They inspired me to foster my relationship with God by magnifying Him through sacrifice and trusting His plans for everything, regardless how big or small the task may be. They helped me to realize how I continue to struggle with putting my reliance in my own abilities, and not fully trusting in the plan Jesus has for my life. I now know that to truly serve the Lord, I must lay down my selfish ambitions and follow Him (Matthew 4:21-22). Then on Thursday, Reality is the Bible study hosted in the residence hall next to mine. I was one of only 3 guys out of 25 or so who attended. But I was just thankful to see other Christians and people checking out who God is on campus, knowing there are roughly 6,000 to 9,000 people out of 300,000 in Newcastle who are Christians. We are a minority, but to share in fellowship with other believers made me more comfortable on my new campus. And Matt, one of the organizers of Reality and the Connect Series, is going to do a Bible study with me on Wednesdays over lunch! Having this much time and energy invested in my walk with God is reaping benefits every day, I can feel it. He continues to strengthen my faith, and I can confidently say my love for God has never been stronger than it is right now.
On Wednesday, we had trials (tryouts in American English) for the East college (residence halls are called colleges here) basketball team! I played with a lot of rust, but was honored to be asked to come back for the second day of trials. On Friday, we continued and I am happy to say that I made the team of 9! Here on campus, the basketball games played between colleges are extremely well attended and they regularly have the entire stands filled with people cheering us on. It’s going to be like high school basketball all over again!
Saturday morning came, and a picturesque beach called. Alex, Charley and Annie (both from the University of Denver), and myself jumped in a bus down to the beach for some breathtaking views and soft sand. We even got to see some cargo ships coming into and leaving Newcastle!
We left the beach after sitting on the Newcastle Breakwall for at least an hour, just taking in the warm sun and admiring the power of the waves crashing on the rocks. All of us were hungry, so being the Americans we are, we sought out a burger joint in town and came upon Newy Burger! Absolutely delicious burgers and the Nutella shake I had was superb.
I got back to East Tower, and had the chance to talk with Jess (one of my roommates) about how different words are pronounced in Australian English versus American English. We found a lot of words that tended to be pronounced different, but each had a similar reason: Australians don’t pronounce the “R” sound in words! Somehow, the discussion led to 5 of us 6 roommates all in the common room (sans Ali, who was out of town for the weekend). We decided to capitalize on the fact that almost all of us were home by watching a movie together! It was some bonding time that I felt was long overdue. Later, I asked Alex, Charley and Annie if they wanted to watch the first Lord of the Rings movie with me and Emma. They all came in shortly afterwards and we had a great time watching it!
The next day, I asked them back for lunch and we played the Metagame. Emma and Hannah (two of my roommates) came in and played with us for a while! After playing for a few hours, we began the second Lord of the Rings movie. They continued watching while I split off for UniChurch. It was a really good sermon by the pastor, going in depth on how God reveals His character from Genesis all the way to Revelation. Feel free to listen to it here!
On Mondays, I don’t have any class. So I studied some material from my classes and stayed up late to play the Metagame again with Hannah, Emma, and Annie. After all that, I was able to write some letters back home before heading to bed!