Every year, international students from all over the world come to BJU to get a Christian college experience they may not have access to in their home countries.
According to academic advisor Kevin Schmidt, international students make up 13% of BJU’s student population. Schmidt said BJU strives to give these students the best experience possible, providing them with the means to succeed culturally and academically.
When interviewed, a few international students gave their thoughts on their journey to BJU and the quality of their experience thus far.
One major subject touched on was distance from home and how that influences exposure to the University. Giana Liriano, sophomore pre-med major from the Dominican Republic, and Bela Lopez, junior engineering major with a French minor from Honduras, both heard about BJU at their private Christian schools.
Liriano decided to come to BJU because of her familiarity with the University and to have access to a Christian college, since the Dominican Republic lacks them. BJU was also one of her most affordable options.
Lopez’ decision was made after interacting via email with admission counselors after hearing about the University’s science program. She noted that the admissions counselors’ Christian testimony led her to come to BJU. Despite the distance, having a biblical foundation was worth it to her. Colten Shipe, sophomore computer science major and missionary kid from Tanzania, became familiar with BJU since he used BJU Press curriculum while homeschooling.
Melchisedek Dulcio, sophomore computer science major from Haiti, found out about BJU through his own research he conducted and heard positive comments about BJU. He desired quality academics and wanted to attend a college that would strengthen his faith.
The location of the school was also ideal for him. He said he had hoped to attend somewhere that was not in the middle of nowhere nor in an extremely urban area. In addition to their journeys to BJU, international students also face the transition to life in the United States and culture at BJU. As far as cultural differences go, Liriano said her transition to BJU was not too difficult because she attended a Bible college in Florida for one year after high school prior to coming to BJU.
However, she noted some cultural differences, including higher expectations for punctuality in the United States than in the Dominican Republic as well as less of a community and party-centered atmosphere. Lopez said she had to adjust to the dress code and language and that when she first arrived, it felt odd to speak English for an entire day.
Shipe did not face any major transition issues since he had lived in the United States previously, but he said that Americans are less community-oriented than Tanzanians.
Dulcio said he had to adjust to several elements of culture such as food, people and easy access to basic needs. After attending BJU for one to two years now, these international students all highlighted favorite parts of their college experience. They all acknowledged how much they appreciate BJU’s incorporation of a biblical worldview in every aspect of college life.
This is what makes the journeys of international students to BJU so fulfilling. They have an opportunity to attend a university that honors the Creator of every tribe, culture, nation and tongue.