A Spiritual Home: an Erasmus experience of a UK CathSoc

My name is Julio Romano. I am a Spanish student who has been studying Law at the University of Bristol during this past year. Although my overall experience has proven fantastic, the first months of my British residence were hard. It was the first time I lived alone, I was without my family, in a strange place, and I did not speak English very well.

I arrived at Bristol in September 2019, without a house to live in and without any friends. It was extremely difficult to find suitable accommodation, and it was tough to meet new people and to make new friends during this period. I really thought about going back to Spain and recovering my old and comfortable life. However, I wanted to study at the prestigious University of Bristol, and to learn more about the United Kingdom. What helped me through this was joining the Catholic Chaplaincy of the University. In this place, I made incredible friends, and I felt at home.

One of the most beautiful characteristics of the Roman Catholic Church is its capacity to combine the universality of the Church with the local character of each nation. In the Chaplaincy I had the opportunity to experience the authentic English culture. At the same time, it gave me the opportunity to be proud of my own national identity.

Furthermore, I made new friends who helped me in learning English and in getting to know the city I lived in. I will always remember the fantastic treatment of all the people of the chaplaincy. Indeed, I am especially grateful to Fr. Rupert (Bristol University's Catholic Chaplain), who celebrated Mass which I attended every day, and who helped me to know the beautiful Latin Mass. His vocation has an incredible spiritual value, and I pray for him often, in order that he can continue with his valuable work with the divine help of God.

However, more important than feeling at home or making new friends, the Catholic Chaplaincy gave me the opportunity to improve my relationship with God. When I lived in Spain, I only attended Mass on Sundays. I did not consider that Mass was particularly important to my spiritual life. The English liturgy helped me to understand how important the Mass must be for all the Catholic people. I started to attend to the Mass daily, and I felt that this improved my special relationship with my Creator. In England, the Catholic Church has always experienced discrimination. They could only resist this discrimination and prosecution because of their special attention to the Mass. I would recommend Spanish people to attend a Catholic service England. It is an exemplary spectacle of devotion.

To sum up, the Catholic Chaplaincy helped me to make new friends, to know more about the culture of the United Kingdom, to improve my English, to feel like home, and to improve my relationship with Christ. It was one of my best experiences in my Erasmus year, and I recommend all the Spanish students in England to assist the chaplaincies of their universities.

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