Biola used to be located in the heart of Los Angeles. It was once rooted in the heart of a city with wonderfully diverse culture and ideology.

Senior Public Relations major Erin Wilson knows about these rich ties to Los Angeles, and she lights up when she talks about the conduit of this knowledge: A Torrey program called Urban Plunge. Having gone on Urban Plunge as a Torrey student, she describes her experience as “way cooler than anyone told me.” So what is Urban Plunge, and why is it so important?

“L.A. is usually just a destination” she explains. But for Erin, the city came to life because of the people she met there. She has made an effort to familiarize herself with the culture of the people. The goal of Urban Plunge is to help students form a holistic perspective on the true character and identity of Los Angeles.

Torrey students who attend Urban Plunge will do anything from visiting multicultural art galleries to talking with strangers on Venice Beach. Each Urban Plunge excursion has a purpose. Leaders may take students to a community with a high refugee population in order to bridge the gap between our lives and theirs. They may visit art galleries to consider different ways of thinking, or interact with the homeless to make connections and understand their circumstances.

Erin is currently a leader on the Urban Plunge staff. She values the idea that education is more than just sitting in a classroom. Education is found in dynamic experiences with the uncomfortable and unknown. In a sense Erin’s mission with Urban Plunge is to reconnect Biola with its roots. Urban Plunge takes advantage of the wide range of experiences this school, and Los Angeles, can offer.

But you don’t have to go on Urban Plunge to encounter unique perspectives and experiences. Biola has some great things to offer, if you’re willing to learn.

SCORR conference: Biola’s conference on racial reconciliation, will likely challenge your perspectives and serve as an incredible learning experience. The conference is free to all students.

It could also be one of the many missions trips offered offered by SMU. Perhaps you could join the Biola Gospel Choir. Or maybe you could join a club with a topic you’re unfamiliar with, such as the Upper Room Hip Hop Club.

Because of Urban Plunge, Erin finds that she identifies more with the people of L.A. They are no longer unreachable residents in a sprawling cityscape. She isn’t afraid to interact with and learn from the city.

People at Biola often talk about the “Biola Bubble” as a cultural hedge between university students and the outside world. Erin’s experiences with Urban Plunge show how easy it is to break out of the bubble if you simply take the time to engage with the experiences around you.

Are you seeking out education outside the classroom? Here are some resources Biola can offer to help you do that.

Catch Me Outside