Among the student body at BYU-Idaho, the common question asked, besides “What is your name?” is “Where are you from?”
Answers vary from local cities to states across the country to places around the world.
Students on campus represent all 50 states and 50 to 59 foreign countries, depending on the school year.
“Of the applications we receive in an average year, the number of international students is generally around 300 to 400. It’s not a large number,” said admissions manager, Riley Hall.
International students have a few reasons for choosing to study in a small town in the United States, called Rexburg.
“In Europe, especially in Albania, United States is like a dream,” said Onelda Lufta, a junior from Albania studying accounting.
Each international student has his or her own reasons for attending a school in America.
“The reason why I choose a school in here and not in my country is not only because the diploma from here has more value, but also because I wanted to have more experience in meeting people from different places and with different backgrounds,” Lufta said.
Depending on the student’s home country, what they expect from the education differs.
“What surprised me the most was how good the education actually is. In Colombia we think American schools are really bad. I’ve come to realize that it is better than I thought it would be,” said Diego Zapata, a freshman from Colombia studying economics.
Students from America may not always fully appreciate the level and quality of their education because they do not have anything to compare it to.
Many international students have admitted that a key factor in choosing a school in America was the quality.
“The education is better. The American government invests more money on biological research, so I think there are more opportunities,” said Kevin Yan, a senior from China studying biology.
The quality of research America offered was particularly important to Yan, given his chosen field. International students seeking a better education have to work hard because English is not always their first language.
“In my first years, I have to spend more hours reading the materials than others,” Yan said.
Because many international students come from areas in the world where the Church isn’t as prominent, these students have unique experiences at BYU-I that they may not find while attending a university in their native country.
“The thing that surprised me the most are the teachers and their willingness to help,” Lufta said. “Every time they would try to accommodate our needs, and it gives me such comfort to know that they are so willing to help us learn through the Spirit.”