Five hundred and forty two international students attend BYU-Idaho this semester. They represent 70 contries around the world. Overall this semester, there are 1,185 students enrolled between on-campus, online classes, and the Pathway program. They represent 82 countries around the world, according to BYU-I Student Records and Registration.
Lindsay Cyngot, a sophomore studying communication, is from a small town on the east coast of Canada.
“As soon as you cross the border, there’s a difference. It’s like comparing two sisters: They’re really similar, but they’ve definitely got their differences,” Cyngot said.
One of the differences, she says, is the way people act.
“I’m used to people who are way friendly, who will go out of their way to help you. It’s not Mormon culture, [its] just people in general,” Cyngot said. “In America, people are more self-focused. They’re so busy wrapped in their own lives; they’re not taking the time to pay attention to other people.”
Gian Fernandez-Ruiz, a junior studying English literature, lived in the Dominican Republic for six years. He said he has observed a similar phenomenon.
“Dominicans like to laugh, hug and get on a family level with people in minutes,” Fernandez-Ruiz said. “At BYU-Idaho, people are warm but they’re still colder than they would be in the Dominican Republic.”
Chen Liu, a junior studying accounting, came to America a year and a half ago from China. She had a different perspective regarding how loud Americans are and their priorities.
“Normally, Asians are really quiet. They don’t want to bother others. A lot of Americans still speak really loud and laugh loud after curfew. Americans care more about themselves,” Liu said.
Religion is another major difference and influence.
In fact, Liu did not know about the gospel before coming to the United States. It is a direct correlation to her joining the church.
“I never went to church, I never read the Bible,” Liu said. “In China, not so many people believe in God. I wanted to learn more about the gospel. That’s why I transferred here.”
Cyngot described Canada’s LDS church membership as being scarce compared to the countries size.
“Canada’s the second largest country in the world, and we have fewer than 10 temples. Coming here is a huge dynamic change. I’m not used to everyone automatically knowing your standards what you’re doing and why you’re here,” Cyngot said.
David Johnston, a freshman studying exercise physiology, lived in England for 12 years. He also described religion as being a stronger force in the United States.
“In Europe, the gospel light isn’t as strong. People are starting to just do their own thing. Here, people actually believe in God,” Johnston said.
Many of these students also have strong views about the American dream.
“The American dream is everything. My grandparents would always talk to me about their desires to be here and have their own lives,” Fernandez-Ruiz said.
Johnston and his family had their own experience with the American dream.
“When my family moved here, [my Dad] quit his job in England. We started there, and now we’re doing really well. I know that achieving the American dream is more possible here than anywhere else in the world,” Johnston said.