Practising my faith at university

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Meet Graciete

When I started university, I was interested in how my new experiences would influence my faith.
Photo of Graciete Silva Da Rosa
Graciete Silva Da Rosa
Human Resources Management, BA (Hons)

Three years ago, when I started university, I couldn’t wait to have new experiences and to embrace every opportunity available. As I was going to a different country to study, I was keen to experience a new culture, new language and meet new friends. Most of all, I was interested in how my new experiences would influence my faith.

Looking back on those first years at UCLan, a lot of things challenged me as a person and consequently impacted my faith. In the beginning of my academic life, I was apprehensive about how other people would react to my beliefs, as back home I had never met someone from a different religion. However, UCLan surprised me with its multicultural and multi-faith community. It is a place where people with different beliefs and backgrounds could share their own experiences. I made friends from different faiths and beliefs that I didn’t know about before my studies abroad.

Being surrounded by people from different faiths allowed me not just to feel comfortable practicing my own faith, but also gave me the opportunity to learn about other people’s beliefs. In the end, I was able to gain more insight about other people beliefs without neglecting mine. And being in a multi-faith environment allowed me to be more understanding and respectful of others.

There is a saying from Portugal that goes, “tell me about your friends and I’ll tell you who you are”, which means that you are influenced by the people you are surrounded by. So, I made sure to choose well my friendships with people that were inspiring and respectful. I thought that I would have to find exclusively people from the same faith, but it turns out that I found friends for life with Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and atheists. And we all share our faith in harmony and a beautiful friendship.

Nevertheless, it was still important for me to get closer to my faith and to have someone to guide and support me while in university. Hence, I joined the Catholic society (CathSoc) at UCLan, where I made lots of good friends that shared my faith. We had our weekly meetings at Oasis for Bible studies, went to mass and retreats together, and we sang songs of worship. Joining CathSoc allowed me to grow my faith. I had the advantage of having different places to practice my faith around campus and Preston. With CathSoc we also had the opportunity to meet other catholic students from different colleges and universities.

The Oasis centre is a multi-faith centre.
The Oasis centre is a multi-faith centre.

Alongside CathSoc, the OASIS centre had a Catholic Chaplin that I already knew from church. Having Joe at the centre was positive for me because he had a lot of knowledge, and I could go to him if I needed guidance from someone older and more experienced. Having someone that studied the catechism and was more knowledgeable in faith was helpful to give me guidance.

Overall, practicing my faith at UCLan was positive academically and personally. I had the opportunity to learn about different ideologies, respect them and have the space and facilities to grow my own faith. The environment enabled me to accept different beliefs and grow my own spirituality proved inherent to my personal development and my spiritual strength. I am grateful for UCLan’s active commitment to be inclusive and provide resources to students who want to follow their faith.

Where next?

  • Oasis Faith and Spirituality Centre

    The Oasis Centre is open to people of any religion or none. It's a place for quiet reflection between studies to meet up with friends and get pastoral support.

  • Inclusive campus community

    We are proud to host a campus community comprised of many cultures, faiths, nationalities and beliefs.

  • Life at university as a Muslim

    Misbah is a Muslim student and shares how she balances her faith with studying, whilst still having fun.

    Monday 8 January 2024