Botsalo Sima is one of 78 college students in the United States from Botswana, a country in southern Africa with a population of just over two million, according to the Department of Homeland Security website.
Sima, a senior studying agribusiness, said he usually goes by his last name on campus. He came to Rexburg, Idaho in January 2014 and will graduate in April 2018.
Originally an accounting major, Sima said he decided to switch to agribusiness due to “the importance of being able to sustain ourselves as a country agriculturally and to be able to return home and find ways to help in that aspect.”
He said he was drawn to BYU-Idaho not only because of the academic standards but also because of the spiritual standards the university is known for.
“My parents, being LDS members, felt this is where their money would be best spent,” Sima said.
BYU-I is home to 1,238 international students representing 101 different countries as of Winter Semester 2018, according to the BYU-I International Services department.
International students do not receive the same financial aid as American students. Students from abroad must prove they have the finances to pay for two semesters. According to the BYU-I admission page for international students, the amount needed for two semesters is $12,500.
Botsalo Sima, a senior studying agribusiness, aids in assigning a test to a student in the Testing Center.
Students must also provide a $4,000 deposit to the school before they can file the I-20 document. According to the Department of Homeland Security website, the I-20 is a “certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant student status.” This deposit is used to cover the cost of shipping documents and payment of the first-semester tuition. Students may use the remaining balance to pay for school-related expenses such as books, insurance and housing.
After moving to Rexburg, Sima met his wife, Meredith, a senior studying public health. The two met their freshman year but didn’t begin dating until they were both juniors.
On Dec. 20, 2016, they were sealed in the Columbia River Temple in Richland, Washington.
Meredith said she now enjoys staying home to care for the couple’s new baby.
Botsalo Sima and his wife, Meredith Sima, study together in the living room of their apartment.
“I have been blessed enough to take online classes this semester and stay home with our 4-month-old baby, Sloan,” Meredith said.
She said she finds it easier than most people might think to be a full-time student while also married.
“It’s actually easier in my opinion,” Meredith said. “I have a live-in study buddy.”
Meredith said they use Skype and FaceTime to maintain regular contact with Botsalo’s family back in Botswana.
Botsalo said one of the biggest struggles of being an international student is not being able to return home on breaks and see his family. The price of a plane ticket to Botswana is the price of one semester’s tuition.
Botsalo can be seen on campus at the Testing Center located in the basement of the Hyrum Manwaring Student Center where he has been employed since he was a freshman.
After graduating from BYU-I, Botsalo said he plans to further his education and work toward a master’s degree in accounting or finance. He said he plans to stay in America and work in the agriculture industry while still maintaining ties to his home country of Botswana and battling the problems they face with malnutrition.
Botsalo and Meredith said they hope to maintain a connection with both countries and raise their children knowing where both parents are from.