International students reflect on first semester

Narayan Núñez Blandón – Staff Writer

“As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt College equips students, alumni, and the broader community to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life.” – Dordt College mission statement

During their first semester at Dordt College, many international students start the process of culture assimilation by facing culture shock and learning valuable lessons from it.  As they prepare for their second semester in college, they look back to the influencing culture at Dordt College.

Before attending Dordt College, many international freshmen haven’t been exposed to the Reformed Christian thought. In fact, Dordt College is the first Reformed institution that many international students have ever attended. While some freshmen have found the Reformed thought enlightening and have integrated or adapted the Reformed worldview to theirs, other still find it challenging to adapt to.

For Stephanie Cho, a one-year exchange student from South Korea, coming to Dordt College broadened her mind academically. Cho says that the education system at Dordt has impacted her because in South Korea, students are normally not encouraged to give their opinion about a topic that the professor is lecturing on, as it is at Dordt.

“I am not used to giving my opinion, so that is what made it difficult (for me),” said Cho. “When professors ask questions, the students (here) give away their opinions whereas I try to find the correct answer: the answer the professor is looking for.”

Dordt College has not only impacted Cho in the academics, but it has also impacted Cho in her spiritual life. Cho says that despite the fact that Dordt College is in a rural location and that Christians in Sioux Center tend to be quieter, Dordt College has a well-formed devotional programs and activities for its students.

“The location is awful, but due to the interesting programs, we can enjoy the campus,” said Cho. “With this time at Dordt, I am giving myself the time to think about my future and life. Dordt is as meaningful to me as (my university at home).”

Similarly to Cho, other international students have also been impacted by Dordt College, but still find it difficult to fully cope with the Reformed thought. Such is the case of Chibundo Onyia, a Nigerian freshman, biology major and soccer player.

“It is different than what is normal (for me). I am not used to it. I feel it is too structured,” Onya said.

Onya says that the reason he still finds it hard to adapt to the Reformed thought of Dordt College is because of the way he was raised at his home country. He said that in his high school, students are encouraged to form their own beliefs about God and life whereas in Dordt College the beliefs are taught to the students through the writings of the Reformed theologians.

Whether he gets used to the Reformed thought or not, Onya says he likes the community at Dordt College and that he has felt welcomed and accepted. He agrees that Dordt equips students with good values for life and right mindsets even though he has not gotten used to the way the values are imparted.

Just like Cho or Onya, many international students have been enlightened and challenged by Dordt College; not just culturally or academically, but also spiritually.

Dordt College fulfills its mission of equipping individuals with values that are essential to the development of a Christian life. Regardless of the different Christian backgrounds and traditions, Dordt College creates a positive impact on students that broaden their vision and challenge their thinking.

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