Welcome back for part two.
My first university - a public, secular university - has a clear cut stance on Christianity, although at face value it seemed to have a high level of tolerance. Young in the understanding of Christian doctrine and the specifics of the gospel, I did not feel knowledgeable enough to hold a defense to the reality of intolerance. As fierce as some of my classmates could be towards me, some of my professors were worse.
I learned how to work alongside others and with people who openly disagreed with my moral standards and faith. While faith had never been a barricade to working well with others before in my experience, this was a new kind of teamwork.
I learned how to deflect conversation topics and how to very eloquently talk about nothing. At the expense of the fire-song in my heart, I reigned in my boundaries and began to avoid settings where moral compromising was happening, rather than challenge them. I felt safer simply spending less time in my room than asking my then-roommate to partake in her recreational endeavors elsewhere.
I was consistently on defense.
(Even from the pastry bar.)
My experience at Biola University has been healing in regards to my previous university experience, and very different. Biola University remains un-barricaded in the realm of free speech, as long as respect is held on all sides. Many of our Bible classes bring up different points of views on different unessential theological theories, and our professors encourage us to dig into them and see which one we agree with - even if it is not their own.
At Biola, Student Development requires us to go to chapel. I have gone to chapel twice in the same week and have heard two sides of one coin. Many of the students are able to facilitate discussion throughout their weeks with their friends on chapel topics, respectfully hearing one another out. My dear roommate and I are fond of debriefing our thoughts on the crisp walk back from Sutherland to our dorm at close to eleven in the evening post-Afterdark.
It stands to be quite clear professors are here to build students up. Many of them share their perspectives on the topic we are learning about in class, and many are quick to add a reaffirmation that while they believe this way, that does not necessarily mean we have to.
Professors pray here, at the beginning and end and sometimes even in the middle of class. They genuinely care and are willing to fight for you rather than fight you.
Fellow students ask you how your day has gone, and strangers stop to say hello. The dorms do not smell of illicit drugs and I have not run into a non-sober classmate all the time I have been here. Bonus points.
Biola University was very intentional in the transfer admissions process. My previous university was less so. Intentionality is not always indicative of true community at a place - as it could be chalked up to simply friendliness - but it is so with Biola. The truth is clear: you are wanted at Biola, you are loved. You are listened to more often than not, even if you do not align with the majority opinion.
Biola accepted my classes and there was (and is!) the option to petition for the ones not accepted right away. I spent hours on the Transfer Equivalency Tool website digging around and making sure these two years’ worth of classes at my first university would not have to be redone. Biola had my major and even my back-up choices. Biola University required their students to minor in Bible (and still do), which would ensure this fire-song in my heart would remain on full volume.
I made the decision: time to trade in my ship’s oar for a pair of eagle’s wings.
The transfer process has been strange and difficult on its own. There remains something about being new to a space yet old to an institution (not being a first year but a third year, yet it being a first year at a different university).
Those two years at my first university I do not regret by any means. For all of its hardships, there were many bright spots in the middle of it too. I am grateful for the formidable process, the experience, and the growth it provided.
I occasionally miss the snow and the rain of the Pacific Northwest, but am presently enjoying not having to thaw out every time I step into a building. Often times it's the opposite.
On a final note - Biola is not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination. All of us here are redeemed sinners. We are messy, imperfect people just as everyone else.
The difference is we all have Christ to look to, to base our life and standard upon, and to strive to be greater for. And that fact alone - that we look to Christ alone - is worth all of the messes.
If you are curious about Biola, check us out at @BiolaAdmissions on Instagram and @Biola on ZeeMee! We have many ambassadors and representatives at the ready to answer your questions and walk you through the admissions process. I know a good handful of them, and can attest to their deep love for this place and its prospective students.
A note on the pastry bar: Biola does have a few different cafés on campus! Common Grounds, Heritage Café, Talon Café and Blackstone Café each hold individual pastry options that are delicious in their own right (Blackstone Café even makes crêpes!). I still have to be on defense against pastries (always), but that remains to be little fish.