From across the globe to Greenville: International students experience cultural changes

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From across the globe to Greenville: International students experience cultural changes

BJU demographics. Design: Ryan Thompson; Text: Jessi Hargett

As students introduce themselves in class, society, prayer group and chapel, certain personal facts spark interest in those listening. Students who say they are from outside the United States get different reactions from their peers—“ooohs” and “aahs” or maybe a flood of questions.

International students studying at BJU comprise about seven percent of the student population. These students come from 47 different countries, the top three being South Korea, Canada and China.

This year, sophomore Amy Zhu left her home in China to study business at BJU. She visited the U.S. last year and came expecting every city to be like New York City. But Greenville surprised her, she said, since it seemed more like the countryside than a city.

Amy said she came expecting to grow in her knowledge of the Lord. “God has been teaching me a lot since I have been here,” she said. Also, after experiencing the first few weeks of classes, she said she has been surprised by the professors’ willingness to help her in spite of their many responsibilities.

Sophomore Carlos Sierra from Honduras visited the U.S. several times before coming as a student. After his pastor (a BJU graduate) introduced him to BJU, Carlos decided to study international business here.

In contrast to his home in Honduras, Carlos said the character of the people in North and South Carolina has stood out to him during his time in the United States. “People smile at you in the streets or just say ‘hi,’” he said.

So what does Carlos miss most about Honduras? Eating his grandmother’s food and speaking his native language, to start with. Also, he said he has struggled to adjust to the late nights of college students.

Freshman engineering major Lauriana Cojocaru said she expected American food to be healthier than the food in her home country of Moldova and the people in the U.S. to be friendly and rigorous in academics. She said her stay in America has actually exceeded her expectations.

“I’m surprised to see that most of the students here [at BJU] have a real relationship with Christ, and they live the Christian life,” she said. In Moldova, Lauriana said she would be unable to receive an education with Christian fellowship, Christian teachers and Bible classes. “Bob Jones University has always been my first choice because it’s different,” she said.

Although Lauriana enjoys the atmosphere at the University, she said she misses her family and speaking her own language.

Lauriana, Carlos and Amy are only three of the 217 students who have stepped out of their own culture and into a new, perhaps radically different one. Although many different nationalities come together at BJU, one thing unites us all regardless of our background: our love for Jesus Christ.