First Year at UU – The Long Winter Break

Josiah Murphy headshot

Post by Josiah Murphy, freshman broadcast journalism major

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed awhile ago and came across a tweet by @CollegeStudent that said, College makes you appreciate home, home makes you appreciate college.Now that I have just finished Christmas break and am two weeks into the spring semester, I have a new appreciation for that quote.

After the conclusion of finals last semester, I was ready to go home, see my family, catch up on some much needed sleep, and eat a home cooked meal. While on break I also had the opportunity to catch up with old friends and to work. It is really easy to become disconnected from my family being eight hours away at college, so the long break gave me the opportunity to catch up on everything that had happened while I was gone.

During the month of January, Union has an optional J-Term which allows students to live on campus and take accelerated courses. This is helpful if you dont have enough credit hours to graduate on time or to get ahead and help you graduate early. If you choose not participate in J-Term, then you get a nearly two-month-long break.

However, the downside to having such a long break is you start to miss your friends. I have made so many solid friendships here at Union that not seeing those friends for two months is almost torture. Living with your friends allows you to develop deep relationships very quickly. Whenever you want to hang out with someone, all you have to do is take a quick walk over to his or her room (if he or she doesnt live with you). Though I greatly enjoyed my time at home, I realized how much my new friends meant to me.

As you begin your last semester of high school, I encourage you to finish strong. You have a lot to look forward to in college, but dont let it distract you from the task at hand. Know that many of us here at Union are praying for you and your decision, and we hope to see you on campus next fall!

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Photo by Victor Miller, student photographer

Meet Our Student Bloggers

Throughout this semester, we’ve had a few students pen some blog posts about their first year at Union. The students have done a great job portraying what it’s like to be here, and we are looking forward to hearing even more from them next semester. We thought it would be nice to have a proper introduction to these wonderful students who have given so willingly of their time to blog for us, so without further ado, meet our bloggers!

Josiah Murphy headshot Josiah Murphy, freshman Christian studies major.

  • Favorite food in the Brewer Dining Hall – corn nuggets
  • Favorite place to go in Jackson – Waffle House
  • Favorite movie – Forrest Gump
  • Hidden talent – It’s still hidden from me!
  • Farthest I’ve travelled – Jamaica
  • Why I picked Union – I picked Union because during my visit I met a group with whom I immediately connected and wanted to spend time. My sister also attended Union and the school treated us all like family and I really appreciated that.
  • Extracurricular Activities – Greek life; Student Ambassador; Buster the Bulldog mascot

Chandler Bell headshot Chandler Bell, freshman accounting major

  • Favorite band – Coldplay
  • Favorite food in the Brewer Dining Hall – Wrap Wednesday
  • Favorite place to go in Jackson – Kroger
  • Favorite book – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Hidden talent – It wouldn’t be hidden if I told you
  • Farthest I’ve travelled – El Salvador
  • Why I picked Union – The community here is something you can’t find anywhere else.  You’re genuinely cared for.
  • Extracurricular Activities – Freshman council and Greek Life

EmilyJohnson-200 Emily Johnson, freshman biology major

  • Favorite band – Right now, probably the Oh Hellos, although it will likely change in a week!
  • Favorite food in the Brewer Dining Hall – the mac and cheese, for sure
  • Favorite place to go in Jackson – I enjoy going to Alba, a coffee shop downtown. It is definitely the best place to study off campus. Plus, their coffee is incredible!
  • Favorite book – Right now, one of my favorite books is Manalive by G.K. Chesterton.
  • Hidden talent – I am creepily adept at picking objects up with my feet.
  • Farthest I’ve travelled – The glorious Rocky Mountains in Colorado.
  • Why I picked Union – Both my sisters had the privilege of attending Union, and I fell in love with it through them! Union is genuinely Christ-centered, and the community is welcoming and encouraging. I can’t imagine going to school anywhere else!
  • Extracurricular Activities – Student Government Association

StevenCutliff-200Stephen Cutliff, freshman international business major

  • Favorite band – Maroon 5, Rascal Flatts, and Mumford And Sons
  • Favorite food in the Brewer Dining Hall – pepperoni pizza and french fries
  • Favorite place to go in Jackson – movie theater (Jackson 16)
  • Favorite book – the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher
  • Hidden talent – I’m really flexible
  • Farthest I’ve travelled – Neply, Haiti
  • Why I picked Union – I really wanted to go to a Christian college. Union seemed like a college that really cared about me. They also offered good scholarships and I was able to get a job on campus.
  • Extracurricular Activities – Student Activities Council and Men’s Choir

Yee Eun Lee headshot Yee Eun Lee, freshman pre-professional major

  • Favorite musician – Bruno Mars
  • Favorite food in the Brewer Dining Hall – chocolate ice cream
  • Favorite place to go in Jackson – Alba (coffee shop downtown)
  • Hidden talent – rugby, I was on my high school’s team
  • Farthest I’ve travelled – Philippines and Korea
  • Why I picked Union – God called me to come to Union
  • Extracurricular Activities – BIOME, SMACS (American Chemical Society), and the International Students Organization

First Year at UU – Adjusting to Life in the US

Yee Eun Lee headshot

Post by Yee Eun Lee, freshman pre-professional major

During the first four months at Union, I have made the biggest transition of my life. I didn’t realize how difficult and exciting it would be not only to live on my own, but also to live in a new country.

I have travelled all the way from the Philippines to come to Union University. Having lived in the Philippines for 19 years, I have to say, adjusting to America was quite challenging. I remember having difficulty adjusting to the deep-fried food. Even though I love eating anything that is deep-fried, the sudden change in diet was a shock to my system. Also, when I was talking to my fellow freshmen friends, I could understand them perfectly until I heard someone with a Southern accent. I could only pick up a couple of phrases and words they would say, but overall, I had no clue what they were saying. Another major difficulty I faced was seasonal changes in Jackson. Since the Philippines is a tropical country, it only has two seasons: rain and more rain. As the weather here in Jackson is slowly getting colder, I always have to wear at least three layers of clothes to keep me warm between my walks to PAC from my dorm.

Yee Eun Lee and her friends

Despite the difficulties I had in adjusting to America, I have been able to adjust smoothly, thanks to my Union family. Many of the upperclassmen helped me adjust to America by mapping out where the banks, restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores are located. They were always willing to give me rides and even tell me crazy stories of their adventures around town. Other international students also helped me adjust by telling me the struggles that they went through during their freshman year. My roommates have also been amazing, because they continuously cheer me on and make me laugh with their jokes and fear of spiders.

I am blessed to have experienced even the difficult times, because through them I have grown so much. I have learned that no matter how hard our current situation is, God will always provide a way. This doesn’t mean that I have fully adjusted to America; in fact, I don’t know if I will ever fully adjust. One thing I know for sure is that God has placed me at Union University with many people who care, and I am truly blessed to be a part of the Union family.

Photos of Yee Eun Lee with her friends at Union

 

First Year at UU – SAC Behind the Scenes

StevenCutliff-200Post by Steven Cutliff, freshman international business major

My name is Steven Cutliff, and I’m a new SACling. By that I mean I’m a first year member of the Student Activities Council. As a SAC member, I got the chance to work the Casey Jones Hullabaloo event earlier this month, and I had so much fun! I believe there is a major difference between what it feels like to attend an event and to be a part of making the event happen. Instead of enjoying an event for the sake of simply having fun, we get to find ways to make our event the most enjoyable for everyone involved.

I’ve heard things described as a person’s “baby” before, and I always thought it was a strange phrase. Now I get it. Hullabaloo was a lot of work, but it was pretty awesome to see a small idea turn into an event the whole student body had the chance to enjoy. Hullabaloo was my baby, and it was amazing to see what it grew into. When the event first started, I was worried that no one would come. All of us SAC members were good to go, with our flannel shirts and work assignments, but there weren’t very many people. I started to panic. I was in charge of the hot chocolate, and though I had rows of steaming cups lined up, people were still trickling in. It turns out it was just the calm before the storm. Soon there were people everywhere I looked! It became a struggle to keep up with the huge demand for hot chocolate. On two separate occasions my job was to inform people that we were completely out and waiting for the staff from The Old Country Store, which is part of Casey Jones Village, to bring us more.

Before the event started, all of the SAC members were admonished to step back, at least once, and just enjoy the night. We were told that if we focused only on what needed to happen we would miss the great things that were going on. I’m so glad I was given that advice. When I did get the chance to take a good look, I saw smiling friends laughing and enjoying tasty treats by the fires, I heard beautiful music being played for a crowd that was enthusiastic in showing its appreciation for the musicians’ efforts, and I felt the crisp air in my lungs. It was great. There was something for everyone. There was even a small bit of mosh pit action towards the end for those who were into that sort of thing (I participated eagerly). It was so fulfilling to know that I had been a part of making this happen. I feel like I got to know each person there just a little bit. If you were at the event, I just want to say “thank you” for making it so wonderful.

10622699_909867229042438_2695180475933457071_nMobile phone photo above courtesy of Erika Borrero

Photos below by Morris Abernathy, staff photographer

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First Year at UU – Deep-Fried Oreos and Freshman Experiences

Emily Johnson Portrait

Post by Emily Johnson, freshman biology major

Some days are good because your favorite song comes on the radio; some days are good because a quiz you forgot about is canceled; and some days are good because your residence building dominates in an epic battle of tug of war.

Tuesday, October 14 was one of those days.

Every year, the freshmen of Heritage Residence Complex compete in the highly momentous Deep-Fried Olympics with their fellow building residents.  As you might infer, the theme of the competition is decidedly Southern.  The evening provides an opportunity for everyone to unleash their inner “country girl/boy,” and flannel, overalls, and a plethora of camouflage are the preferred dress.  The first event, an obstacle relay race, involves a tire run and a trash-sack hurdle.  Next on the agenda is a Cricket Spit (yes, the crickets are alive and hopping), followed closely by a potato sack race.  The grand finale is a merciless tug of war. As teams prepared for battle, the intensity was palpable.  Everything hinged on this one event. The quiet before the “GO!” was broken only by hoarse commands to “Pull with your legs!” The competition was intense and laughter was loud as residents were hauled across the sopping wet grass.

As the points were being tallied, students merrily consumed corn-dogs and Oreos (properly deep-fried, of course).  A few began dancing to an impromptu Cotton-Eyed Joe.  When Resident Director Tim Call, emcee of the event, cleared his throat to begin the awards ceremony, a drumroll swelled. Apartments such as the Lads of Lee, the Dehoney Bees, the Men of Grey and the Beauties of Craig were suddenly united in their anticipation.  Surrounded by my fellow first-years, I was struck by the sense of camaraderie.

Union places most freshmen in the Heritage Residence Complex for the purpose of fostering community among first-year students. We are all sharing similar experiences of prolonged group projects, never-ending laundry and Olympics that are Deep-Fried. We are living life together. The Heritage complex at Union enables freshmen to share with one another the struggles, joys, and changes that inevitably make up freshman year. The Deep-Fried Olympics is just one of many events that freshmen get to experience together.

The first awards went to the best costumes, evoking much laughter and applause from the crowd of hillbillies. Tim Call next revealed the third and second place apartments, and they mounted the shaky victors’ platform of tires. Silence fell as Tim paused for dramatic effect. Finally he declared, “And our first place prize, the coveted Golden Toilet Seat, goes to: GREY AND CRAIG!” As the grimy champions shouted for joy and embraced one another, my RA proudly brandished the gilded testament to our victory. Covered in mud and shuddering in the October chill, I had never been prouder to be a Union freshman.

Photos of Deep Fried Olympics by MiKalla Cotton

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First Year at UU – Fall Break and Reflection

Chandler Bell headshot

Post by Chandler Bell, freshman accounting major

Fall break at Union University is a wonderful thing.  For me, it was wonderful because I got to go home and see my family, eat some awesome home-cooked meals, and sleep. And when I say sleep, I mean sleep a lot.  I didn’t realize just how busy college is until I had the chance to step away from all the studying and socializing I’ve done in the past two months.  It was a great time to reflect on how I’ve spent my time at Union, and the first two words that come to mind when I think about the past two months are fun and challenging.

College has been the most fun I’ve ever had.  Living with and around your best friends is one of the coolest things to experience.  There are so many ways to get involved around campus.  I’m involved in Greek life and student government, and they are both great ways to get connected here at Union.  The opportunities don’t stop there, though!  From Student Activities Council to the Debate Team, there are so many different ways you can find a fun way to get involved at Union.  The fun you can have in college is pretty much limitless, but it’s not all fun and games.

When it comes to classes, Union’s curriculum is challenging, and at first that intimidated me.  Then I realized that the whole point of college is to grow.  Since I’ve been at Union, I have grown so much in and outside of the classroom, all because I have been challenged to give my best.  Academically, I have been pushed to not only recall things from textbooks, but also actually learn and understand the material I am studying.  Socially, I have been given so many opportunities to make new friends and step out of my comfort zone.  Spiritually, I have been poured into more than ever before.  My peers and the faculty at Union intentionally invest in my spiritual life, and that is priceless.

These things combined make Union such a unique and special place to me because it is so hard to find an environment that allows you to grow while also having the time of your life.  That may be why, when I was enjoying my time of rest and relaxation at home, I was missing Union. After only two months here, it is so clear that Union is a second home.  The relationships I have built and the community here has made it feel like a place where I am welcomed, appreciated, respected and deeply cared for.

Miller Tower in the fall at Sunset

First Year at UU – Greek Life and Events

This is the first post in a series called “First Year at UU” which will be written by first-year students. Our hope with this series is that readers, especially prospective students, will get a look at what it’s like at Union University during that initial year and even get some advice on how to make it as great as possible!

Josiah Murphy headshot Post by Josiah Murphy, freshman broadcast journalism major.

Union University hosted its annual Greek Olympics this past Saturday. The Olympics are an opportunity for the three fraternities and three sororities to compete with each other in five different events: swimming, football throw, relay race, rope pull and chariot race. The fraternities on campus are Alpha Tau Omega, Lambda Chi Alpha and Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and the sororities are Chi Omega, Kappa Delta and Zeta Tau Alpha. Representatives from each chapter competed in the events while their brothers and sisters cheered them on. Sigma Alpha Epsilon was the overall men’s champion, while Chi Omega took the trophy home for the ladies.

This event made me reflect on how great Greek life is here at Union. I personally have joined a fraternity and have enjoyed every minute of it. The men in my chapter were some of the first friends I made when I came on campus. They have welcomed me and made me feel right at home. My fraternity brothers have also been so encouraging to me in this first year at Union, and I don’t know what I would do without them.

It is important to note that Greek life here is very different from what one might experience at a state school. The chapters on campus are internationally recognized and members of the Interfraternity Council (men) and the Panhellenic Council (women). Jason Castles, director of student leadership and engagement, has some great insight into what makes Union University Greek life different:

“A number of colleges and universities maintain a passionate dedication to Christian education. Many more feature active Greek organizations that are important to campus life and culture. Union University is a member of the smallest group of schools that has found a way to maintain a Greek system within an educational context that is unashamedly Christ-centered. The benefits of being a member of the Greek community at Union include the following: academic focus, leadership development opportunities, community service involvement, and Christian accountability. The brotherhood and sisterhood that you will find at Union is unique from any other campus and provides you with the opportunity to have fun together through retreats, intramurals, and social events.”

If you choose to attend Union University, especially starting in the fall, I encourage you to go through recruitment, even if you don’t think you want to join. It is a great way for you to meet new people and enjoy some fantastic (free!) food. And who knows? Maybe you will discover a chapter that you really like and want to join. Each chapter has its own personality and culture, and if you know you want to be a part of Greek life, I’m sure you will find a good fit!

Finally, I want all of you future college students – yes, you – to know that you’re in my prayers. Picking a college can be very stressful, but you should take comfort in knowing that God has the perfect place picked out for you already. And hopefully, that place is Union!

Kappa Delta women cheering for their sisters during Greek Olympics Members of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon race against Lambda Chi Alpha and Alpha Tau Omega during the chariot race at Greek Olympics. Women of Chi Omega cheer during Greek Olympics Women of Zeta Tau Alpha cheer for their sisters during Greek Olympics. Men of ATO compete during Greek Olympics Men of SAE yell and cheer for their fraternity brothers during Greek Olympics. Greek Olympics relay race Women of Kappa Delta throw up their KD sign during Greek Olympics

All Greek Olympics photos by Emily Stookey, student photographer.

Thanks so much to Josiah for that great look into how Greek life can play a part in the first year at Union! Learn more about Union Greek life on our website. We look forward to sharing many more insights like this in the weeks to come. We’d love to hear your thoughts on what you’d like our first-year students to share. Tweet us @Unionuniversity to let us know!