I came to the UK from Italy in 2012.
I worked in Canterbury and then a year later, I went to Kent University while working part-time.
I got sucked into the culture of clubbing and alcohol consumption. I cannot deny how easy it was to get into these habits. A lot of my friends at the time were English co-workers from the restaurant I was working in. Drinking after shifts was the norm. I used to walk through the highstreet at night and see that students were doing the same thing, so I did not feel so detached from not having so many student friends.
Anxiety kicked in when I had to socialise without alcohol, and I never lasted without alcohol for long. Everyone was doing it and I started to not know any better.
Things did not end well. I didn’t ever think I needed help. Why would I? It was just the way life was.
My parents in Italy were concerned and pushed me to go to a church that they found online, Canterbury Vineyard Church. They could see that the student activities were good and that they had Christian counsellor. I went along and the atmosphere was so easy-going, even if I never stopped to talk to people. I kept going back. Meanwhile, my awareness of the spiritual dimension of life was opened.
Now I am a follower of Christ, but while I was still following my old patterns it was clear that God was advising me to leave my boyfriend. However, I was so dependant and in love with him that when I finally made that choice, I knew it was for God and not for myself.
From that day on, my journey with Christ has been incredible. It has been hard, humbling, with lots of discipline. Yet I have experienced so much love, healing and patience. I stopped getting drunk and smoking weed.
In my last year of being a student I met Debbie from France and Hannah from the Philippines at the Boxing society. They are still incredibly close friends today. Our friendship was born from our desire to have fun in a healthy way: sport. At times I found myself advising them not to drink so much. I could see so clearly the pull and urge to join the unhealthy student night life culture. But that did not last as we found that cooking, running, travelling and games can be more enjoyable.
I started to share Jesus to my international friends through my lifestyle from the very start, and it felt right, in my heart.
— Monica Ravazollo