Just as at home, much of your spiritual life in Uganda will depend on choices you make. Still, there are more than a few ways to experience Christian fellowship in this new setting:
Fellow USP students will be a learning community. Although some students will live with a Ugandan family for the semester, and others in the dorms, USP students form close bonds as they experience and process life in Uganda together. The USP community will be invaluable in helping encourage and support you.
The UCU community provides various opportunities for worship and fellowship. From the more formal liturgical nature of the Anglican services to the lively and more personal fellowship groups, your experience will depend on your interest and initiative.
Homestay students will have the opportunity to participate in the spiritual life of their families as well as attending their families churches.
The broader Christian community will be significant to your experience. Your host family and other UCU students will be your first contact with Ugandan Christianity. In addition, you will have many opportunities to engage in your community both through your church and through informal relationships that develop.
In general, students find their semester in Uganda a time of significant spiritual growth, but not usually through mountaintop experiences. Instead, USP students find that encountering real questions, real injustices, and real cultural differences leads to a stretching and deepening of their faith. Coming face to face with questions that have no human answer encourages contemplation on the life and death of Jesus for ultimate answers.
Travel & Cultural Engagement
Although the academic schedule leaves little time for independent travel, the USP schedule provides a number of opportunities to experience and learn about East Africa, including a week-long trip to Rwanda.
Because we closely follow the US Embassy’s recommendations for travel in East Africa, all trips are tentative and subject to strict safety evaluation. If you want to travel independently, we recommend that you change your ticket to come early or stay after the program dates.
In addition to your academic travel, home stay experiences and time on campus with Ugandan peers, there are many other opportunities for cultural engagement. Field trips related to your core courses are offered throughout the semester that expose you to a wide variety of religious, political, and cultural aspects of the country.
Housing & Homestays
All students participate in both Mukono and rural homestays. 'Homestay students' apply to live with a family for the duration of the semester. 'On-campus students' who stay in the dorms on campus spend two weeks living with a host family early on in the semester. On rural homestays, all students spend a week living and learning with a family in a rural Ugandan village. In Uganda, you can choose between living with a host family or living on campus.
Almost half a million tourists visit Uganda annually and more than 2,000 Americans plus many other Westerners live in the country. Statistically, Americans are more likely to be in a car accident or injure themselves at home than they are to be involved in a terrorism incident while spending time in Uganda. The country and people are pro-West and likely know more about American politics than you do!
Uganda Christian University is located in the town of Mukono, an ideal setting 15 miles outside the capital city of Kampala. This removes it from many issues of urban life while providing access to the conveniences of the capital city. Still, negative encounters can occur in any setting. As part of the orientation, students are taught the basic do’s and don’ts of living in Uganda in order to minimize that possibility.
NOTE: All travel plans for USP are subject to change if it is deemed necessary to do so for reasons of safety. The safety of USP participants and staff is a primary goal and will be taken into consideration using input from governmental and non-governmental experts, as well as people who live in and know the area in question. If travel to a certain region is cancelled, an effort will be made to replace it with other travel opportunities that provide optimal exposure to the history, people and culture of Uganda.
Medical/Mental Health Services
Adequate health care and emergency services are available in Kampala. On the campus of Uganda Christian University is a fully staffed medical clinic capable of treating many common illnesses. In addition, USP often uses a well-respected international hospital in Kampala.
All students must obtain an International Student Identification Card, which provides supplemental health insurance to cover certain needs unique to international students. In addition, we recommend that you check with your doctor regarding vaccinations and other relevant issues for travel to Uganda.
Mental health services are available in Kampala, but few from a Western perspective. Those that are available currently may not be available every semester. If a student is seeing a therapist before coming, it is important to make a mental health plan while in Uganda. The plan could include email and Skype communication as well as general self-care strategies. If a student is concerned about their physical or mental health while in Uganda, it's important for them to talk with their school advisor and USP staff prior to coming.
Please note: Participants are expected to cover any medical or mental health expenses which might be incurred and so must be covered by a family or institutional health insurance policy.