International Students: The JOY of Adapting to BJU Culture

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International BJU students with tag line posters in foreign languages

Bob Jones University was never meant to be like other schools. It was founded to do what other colleges didn’t—pair high academic standards with a strong biblical worldview. These qualities have been attracting international students to the University since its foundation. This makes BJU culture different from any other you’ll encounter.

For some international students, the adjustment can be challenging. For most, the BJU culture creates a haven.

Jesus First: Daily Push for the Gospel

BJU culture is a curiosity to many international students—especially to those who never attended a Christian school. Entertainment restrictions, dress codes and required events can seem a bit bizarre when coming from a different culture. The rules and expectations of conservative colleges can surprise many, and BJU’s push for the Gospel might astound you.

Many international students at BJU come from countries where Christians are few and oppressed. Little details scattered around campus—like Dr. Bob Jones’s sayings that decorate classrooms—show Christ every day and encourage students. Business major Jonathan George was surprised “that before every class, the teachers would begin with a word of prayer.” George, who grew up in India, added, “I think it’s awesome.”

In addition to the small gestures, the University is full of intentional practices that put Christ first. Chapel, discipleship group, society and the faculty’s effort to involve biblical truths in their classes—these things make BJU culture unique. These underpinnings made Richard Wang—a biology major from China—feel more at home than his own nation. “As a Christian, I feel like I just fit right in with the culture at Bob Jones University,” said Wang. “Culturally, BJU makes me very comfortable. On campus, I just feel like I’m right at home because I’m surrounded by friends—Christians who encourage me. I’m surrounded by people who are very friendly and very helpful. I just thought it was the perfect fit.”

Others Second: Drive for Service and Outreach

The University’s motto of Learn. Love. Lead. clearly reflects a servant’s heart. BJU calls its students to put others before themselves and do so by loving and guiding them. Dr. Matthew Weathers, student leadership coordinator, knows the University’s vision exceeds that of an academic institution.

“Our primary focus is developing students in their relationship with God and equipping them to go, and love, and serve others as they seek to reflect God’s love in the world,” he said. This focus to create Christlike leaders is unheard of in many of the international students’ countries of origin. But life at BJU provides multiple opportunities to learn how to love and lead others.

See also: Martin Luther King Jr. Day On

Residence life at the University is a great tool for service. In the residence halls, leaders and students create bonds. Cassia Moitra, a nursing student from India, enjoyed working as a resident assistant (RA) to freshmen in Nell Sunday Hall.

“Being an RA has probably been the most challenging and rewarding decision God has led me through,” said Moitra. “I have been able to stretch myself greatly … share with other international students my experiences and provide an atmosphere of safety to calm their fears.”

Chinese accounting major Becky Han appreciates the way her RA and other students in her dorm help her out. “Everyone is so enthusiastic,” said Han. “They know that English can be a problem for you, and they try their best to help you.”

Discipleship group, a time of Bible reflection in the residence halls, will bring you closer to God and to your peers. Moitra loves the relationships she’s developed throughout the years thanks to the group.

“D-Group has really impacted me and has opened up doors to friendships which would never have been possible otherwise,” she said. “We share our burdens and joys with one another, and we have been able to watch each other grow in the Lord throughout the year. D-Group has also allowed for a time of questions or doubts to be answered that we would otherwise be apprehensive to ask.”

Platforms like the Center for Global Opportunities (CGO) and literary societies give students leadership and community service opportunities. The fellowship created in each group encourages students to step out of their comfort zone and serve others.

Humberto Bautista, a Honduran engineering major and member of the Nu Delta Chi Vikings, said he loves his society. “Participating in my society’s outreaches and outings helps me acclimate and see different parts of the culture.”

Yourself Last: Learning and Maturing

International Student Orientation

Though self comes last, the personal growth you’ll develop at BJU is priceless. Everything starts with international student orientation during the fall, when new international students arrive a week before other students. From races to find chapel seats to downtown tours, the orientation team guides newcomers through a week of information and fun.

BJU Core

After orientation, the University’s academic demands continue the personal development process. Through mandatory speech and communication classes, you’ll learn to communicate better in a foreign environment and in professional settings. Other classes included in the BJU Core—Themes in Western Thought and Bible Doctrines—help you contrast the world’s standpoint with your biblical worldview.

See also: International Students: Adapting to College Life

Fine Arts

Students also gain great cultural value from their exposure to the fine arts. They can choose to attend or participate in dozens of free concerts and art exhibits. Students and faculty in different arts programs—which include visual arts, music and theatre—present their work on campus weekly.

During the semester, the University hosts Concert, Opera & Drama Series events where an invited guest or the BJU fine arts department presents a great performance. Ria Liu, a nursing major from China, thinks “the events here are really special. They give us a more biblical perspective of the arts world.”

Society

Joining your society’s leadership crew will allow you to minister to others while they minister to you. Honduran actuarial science major Ricardo Donado felt honored to lead the Nu Delta Chi Vikings. Donado, who toured the University as a high school student, knew he wanted to be a Viking since age 15. Five years later he found himself as president of his society.

“I was responsible for a group of people who helped me grow not only personally and as a leader, but most importantly as a Christian,” he said. “I have more appreciation for God, because of who He is, and His pursuit of me.”

See also: Make the Most of Your Society Experience

What makes BJU culture the most special is the way it engages with the values and background of every student. Bela Lopez—an engineering major from Honduras and student ambassador—appreciates all the cultures represented at BJU. “It just amazes me how we all come to this place, being from all around the world but we worship one God, no matter how different our cultures are,” she said.

As an international BJU student, you’ll adapt to the American, Southern and BJU cultures. The learning, loving and leading opportunities that the University offers are worth it.

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