My Experience as a New International Student
I’m Albert, a Hungarian student at the University of South Wales. I lived 19 years of my life in my home country and then decided to try something new. Now I live in Pontypridd and study International Wildlife Biology.
I arrived here not knowing a single person, which was a truly refreshing experience. I soon found out that the Welsh accent is difficult to understand and that it was going to take me some time to get used to. I also noticed that the towns here in the valleys are pleasantly nature-filled. The permanent rain doesn’t bother me too much.
The first month was tough: I had never lived on my own so I had to get independent quickly. I started learning to cook, devising shopping routes and so on. I often felt very stressed, but at the same time it was a joy to be part of this entirely new culture, place and to speak the language.
"These people became my family and assured me that my future here in Wales is in the right hands."
The campuses here are filled with internationals, so it wasn’t long until I started meeting all kinds of different people from all over the world. By the end of the first month I had already made many friends and learnt much about being independent, so the stress started to disappear.
I had never really been religious before, yet most of the friends I’ve made are Christians, since I felt strangely comfortable among them. I was eventually invited to Bethany Baptist Church, where I witnessed greater kindness than I had ever seen. These people became my family and assured me that my future here in Wales is in the right hands.
There have been a few challenges, but nonetheless living in Wales has been absolutely amazing. I know it was the right decision to take that huge step out into the world, and I hope I can stay much longer!
— Albert Kovács
The Best Café in Town
Hello everyone, I am Rosy from Taiwan.
I graduated from Newcastle University with a Master’s in Film Theory and Practice, in December 2016.
During the time I lived in Newcastle, there was one special café I would go to every Monday evening – the Globe Café in Jesmond Parish Church (JPC).
It is not an ordinary café like Starbucks or Costa. It’s a café run by Christians for international students to practise their English and learn more about British culture. We have a meal together; do many interesting activities depending on the theme of that week, for example, Bonfire Night, English afternoon tea, gingerbread man decorating, etc. It’s great fun. You don’t need to be a Christian to join the café – everyone is welcome!
I started to come to the Globe Café when I arrived in Newcastle in September 2015. In the beginning, I went just because, at the time, it happened right after JPCi’s Bible study. We usually continued the conversation from the study. However, as I went there more often, I found that you could do far more than that. I enjoyed the warm welcome and fun activities, but also enjoyed the opportunities to share my faith with other international students during table discussions.
I always remember the first Globe Café I attended – a Ceilidh dance, which is traditional Scottish dancing. I was so excited when I learnt this kind of dance. It reminded me of the ballroom scene in my favourite film, Pride and Prejudice (although I found out in the end they were actually two different kinds of dances).
One thing that impresses me about the Globe Café is the volunteers. They are servant hearted, open and generous. Some volunteers are students from Newcastle University Christian Union; some come after they finish work; some are older people who are retired. What surprises me most is that they all come from different churches.
It’s really a beautiful picture of people from different backgrounds and different churches working with one heart to bring people to know God.
This article was originally published in JOURNEY (Issue 2; Spring 2017). Words: Rosy Chen Photos: Dorothy Chong
Café International in Bath
It was at the end of the 2006 academic year when a small group of volunteers gathered in the Widcombe Church kitchen and came up with the name Café International for the Tuesday international outreach event.
In those days, when we met in the basement of Widcombe Church, we would have been happy with a crowd of 20 or 30 students at the café.
In the last 10 years it’s so encouraging to see how God has developed the ministry. We outgrew the basement space between 2007 and 2011, and then outgrew the church hall between 2011 and today. Over the last five years we have seen a steady increase in attendances, and the total number of people to come through the doors of Café International has increased from 128 in 2011-12 to 402 in 2017-18!
Over the course of those 10 years the café has seen many changes, not least to the format and structure of how things are run. These days the café has a familiar structure each week, with slight variation based on the event. Typically we look at a different culture or an aspect of British culture and have a main meal with discussion questions followed by a short cultural talk. Later in the evening we hear from one of the volunteers on how being a Christian makes a difference to their lives and then we have an optional talk or Bible study available.
As well as high numbers of students we are seeing significant interest in the gospel, with conversations about God happening on most tables each week. Many Chinese students who are not Christians are going regularly to the Chinese Christian Fellowship (30- 40 each week), where they are learning from the Bible. We also have students regularly attending English speaking one-to-one (or small group) Bible studies.
— Adam Kinnison, Bath Staff Worker