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International Life

International students from nine countries attend Bethel College. This creates a vibrant, diverse student body. International students especially enjoy Bethel’s small size, safe community, caring faculty and staff, individual attention and exceptional academic programs.

Many opportunities are available to develop social, spiritual and leadership skills by taking part in student government, campus ministry, dorm life, music, theater, athletics, campus media and academic clubs. International student life activities are planned throughout the year, including international movie nights, international cuisine night as well as regular meetings. International students also participate in Fall Festival activities and present the international convocation.

International students may share their cultures on campus and in the community through the International Club, Fall Festival, area schools and churches and international convocation. Host families welcome students to an American family experience.

If you would like to pursue studies at Bethel College as an international student, complete an online application and learn about available financial aid.


Joanna Bjerum is the international student life adviser and Culture Shock Club sponsor. She is available to support your Bethel College experience, in and out of the classroom.

Culture Shock

Culture Shock is open to international students and U.S. students. The club members strive to:

  • promote better understanding between international and U.S. students.
  • assist international students in adjusting to Bethel College and American culture.
  • introduce other cultures to the college and surrounding community through special events and programs.
  • plan educational, social, recreational and cultural events for the club members, the college community and the Bethel community.

Annual cultural activities include picnics, potlucks with international host families, special dinners, Fall Festival fundraising, international convocation and international film festival. There are many social events scheduled that are a lot of fun. Consider joining to share in the adventure of learning.

Club leaders are elected annually. Officers include president, vice president, secretary/treasurer, Student Senate representative and three cabinet members.


A few suggestions on developing friendships, succeeding academically and enjoying Kansas weather from Bethel College staff and other international students:

Friendship in America

It is probably true in your culture – as it is in the United States – that it takes time for a close relationship to develop. However, most people you meet on campus will be very friendly and open. They will be quick to smile and say hello to you. In the United States, people often say, Hi, how are you? or How are you doing? and then do not wait for a response. This is a polite phrase, not always a real question.

You will probably find that you have more in common with other international students or with Americans who have traveled, studied or lived abroad. By participating in residence hall life, clubs and the international host family program, you will meet American students with whom friendships can develop. Try to find a student in each of your classes whom you can ask about homework assignments and with whom you can study sometimes. Ask for a tutor to help you with your English or other subjects. All of these activities can help an acquaintance with an American turn into a real and lasting friendship.

One comment on friendship from one of our students: There are some really nice people here. Take the time to get involved in the International Club to meet lots of interesting people.

Kansas Facts

The Midwest doesn’t get any more middle than Kansas. In fact, the exact middle of the continental United States is found there, and the state’s geography has all the flatness you would expect from an area known as the Great Plains.

  • Capital city: Topeka
  • Economy: Agriculture and manufacturing
  • Language description: English
  • Population: 2,629,067
  • Time zone: 6-7 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-6 and -7 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is observed from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November
  • Voltage requirements: 110 volts

Kansas Weather

Visitors to Kansas will find that the state, like much of the Midwest, has warm summers (68-90 F./20-32 C.) and cold winters (24-44 F./-4 to 7 C.). Summer can also be very humid. May and June are the wettest months, and September also gets a fair amount of rain in the eastern part of the state. September and October have daytime highs in the 70s and 80s F./21-29 C. Although the state is subject to occasional blizzards, hail, thunderstorms and tornadoes, they are not so frequent as to warrant any extreme precautions on a traveler’s part.


Two major airports serve Kansas: Mid-Continent Airport (ICT) in Wichita and Kansas City (Mo.) International Airport (MCI). Major domestic carriers serve both. Car rental agencies maintain branches at each airport.

Amtrak rail service in Kansas consists of the east-west route between Chicago, Ill., and Los Angeles, Calif., which passes through Kansas City, Mo., and the Kansas towns of Lawrence, Topeka, Emporia, Newton, Hutchinson, Dodge City and Garden City. Another Amtrak route runs from Kansas City, Mo., to St. Louis, Mo., where it connects to other lines. Greyhound provides coach service between Kansas towns and to points outside the state.

Interstates in Kansas include I-70, which crosses the northern half of the state east-west (a toll is charged on the Kansas Turnpike portion between Kansas City and Topeka); I-35, which runs more or less northeast to southwest in Kansas, entering the state at Kansas City and exiting south of Wichita (a toll is charged on the Kansas Turnpike portion of I-35); I-135, north-south between Salina and Wichita; and I-335, Topeka to Emporia. Because Kansas is so spread out, the best way to see the state is by car or coach tour.

Bethel College Academic Life

Teaching styles and classroom attitudes vary widely, from lectures to discussion-based seminars. Foreign students often comment that U.S. students are competitive but not very hard-working and that, although classes tend to be informal, professors are often very demanding. It is important for you to know that creativity, tolerance and flexibility are valued above tradition and respect for authority in the United States. At Bethel, your professors will be eager to meet with you, to answer your questions and to learn more about you. They are friendly and dedicated to their teaching.

Suggestions from international students

The following are some hints from several international students on how to succeed in your classes at Bethel College.


  • Make sure to buy books on time.
  • Identify the building and classroom before class begins.
  • Ask questions.
  • Participate in classroom discussions.
  • Keep track of assignment due dates and exam dates.
  • Listen to others’ opinions.
  • Respect others’ opinions.
  • Use professors’ office hours to clarify your doubts. They care about you, they want you to succeed, and they are willing to help.
  • Organize your time.


  • Miss class.
  • Be shy.
  • Cheat or use others’ materials.
  • Forget homework.
  • Worry about language mistakes.
  • Procrastinate (put off doing assignments or tasks).

Other suggestions:

  • Bring a costume or ethnic clothes from your country; it may come in handy.
  • Save quarters (for laundry).
  • Get involved in on-campus activities. College is more than books!
  • Read the bulletin boards and flyers, which may contain valuable information.
  • Buy a calendar and use it! (Note: Student Life gives all students a daily planner, which includes a calendar marked with many important campus dates and events. If you didn’t get yours at check-in, go by the Student Life office and ask.)
  • Take advantage of the health center, which is not only to relieve stress, but is the best way to avoid the Freshman 15 (weight gain).
  • Try to budget your money – spending can get away from you.
  • Set up a bank account with an ATM (automatic teller machine) card.
  • Most importantly, have FUN!

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.