International students adapt to American culture and Biola lifestyle
A month into the fall semester, students from all around the world have flooded the campus and are learning to adapt to American culture and embrace the Biola lifestyle. International students at Biola play a significant role in adding diversity to our campus and helping Americans see variation between different cultures. Christine Wijaya, Irene Ndungu and Giovani Prayitno, three international students, shared their experience so far in America and how God has transformed them through it.
Ndungu, a sophomore biochemistry major from Kenya, stated that one major culture shock she experienced was the way that people in America greet each other when they are passing by. In her native country, she said that the custom of saying “hi” to each other would be to have a small conversation, rather than passing each other with a simple “hello.”
Prayitno, a senior business major from Jakarta, Indonesia, agreed with Ndungu.
“I feel like the closest relationship I can get with them is only until ‘How are you?’” Prayitno said.
Differences in mannerisms and fashion
Wijaya, a senior psychology major also from Jakarta, said that one of the most striking things about America was the way that people dress.
“Back home in Indonesia, we dress pretty conservatively,” Wijaya said.
She said it was weird to see people wearing short shorts and tank tops, but admitted to taking up a certain American trend.
“I only started wearing sandals when I came to the U.S.,” Wijaya said.
Another major culture shock for Wijaya was the way that the students interacted with the professors. Students voice their opinion very bluntly and are not afraid to disagree with the professors, Wijaya said. She was very surprised that students walk in 30 minutes late to class and do not feel embarrassed.
“I guess coming from a collectivistic culture to an individualistic culture, there’s a lot of culture shock,” said Wijaya.
Dealing with culture shock
Although culture shock for many international students may seem like a big change, it is not always a negative thing.
“I’ve learned that culture shock is not always bad,” Prayitno said. “I realized by noticing my culture shocks, I understand more of my culture better.”
Although moving to the United States may be extremely draining, many feel God has provided for their needs in all circumstances.
“God is faithful,” Wijaya said. “God made me come to Biola for a reason.”
Wijaya feels God has provided for her throughout her years here at Biola. She said that he has provided godly people for her to look up to, such as her professors.
“I realized that all my professors are really open for their office hours and really open to students coming to their office and just talking to them,” Wijaya said. “I realize that my professors really care for me, not only in class that I’m doing well, but also what’s going on in my life.”
Since being at Biola, Ndungu explained that God has helped her. He revealed to her the wickedness of her sin and showed her how to recognize her sin. As she prayed, God helped her resolve it.
“I feel that the Spirit of God is in me,” Ndungu said. “When you’re in class, you just feel the Spirit.”
One way Prayitno said that God has shaped her was by giving her courage to speak up in class. Being one of the only girls in her business group was a little intimidating at first, but God was faithful and gave her the courage to speak up in discussions, she said.
“Because of my experience and what I have learned at Biola, I have people, good friends, good mentors, who can help me, support me,” Prayitno said. “God has changed me to help me see in a more diverse way.”