Twenty-two sophomores set off for their Sophomore International Experience (SIE) trip to China in January barely knowing each other. They returned with lifelong memories and a better understanding not only of one another, but of a culture they had never experienced.
“It was incredible,” says Dana Peck '21. “We did so many cool things there. I would love to go back.”
"Now traveling for a longer amount of time or studying abroad doesn’t seem so daunting.”
Since its inception in 2007, more than 2,500 sophomores have taken part in SIE. The three-credit course begins the semester before departure with an introduction to cultural norms, historical readings and analysis, language study, and art appreciation of the country or countries that will be visited. The course culminates with a two-week trip led by faculty and staff, during which students immerse themselves in another country’s culture and learn how businesses operate globally.
This winter, 123 SIE students traveled to one of four locations:
- Chile and Argentina
- Malaysia and Singapore
Spring SIE itineraries include Japan, and Prague and Budapest.
Insight into history and business
The China SIE included an exploration of the Great Wall and the Forbidden City, and a tour of Lenovo headquarters in Beijing. Bryant students also connected with Bryant Zhuhai students on the campus of the Beijing Institute of Technology.
“Zhuhai was one of my favorite places,” Peck said. “It’s an up-and-coming city. We were driving down the highway and we could see 30 skyscrapers being built at once.”
“It was really cool to have some time with ... the students from Zhuhai,” added Margaret Sullivan ’21. “They took us to places where they like to hang out. It was interesting to see that we like to do a lot of the same things.”
“It was really cool to have some time with ... the students from Zhuhai.”
Martin Gauba '21 was surprised to learn about how business is done in China. "It was unbelievable to me that even though the Chinese live under a communist government, they have such free power to start up a business," he said.
The students said they “challenged themselves” to experience the unknown and overcome fears about being in an unfamiliar culture.
“I think this two-week experience is perfect,” said Cara DelSesto ’21. “I knew everything that was going to happen every day, and now traveling for a longer amount of time or studying abroad doesn’t seem so daunting.”
At the end of the trip, DelSesto, Peck, Sullivan and Meghan Sengstacken ’21 produced a video featuring reflections of their trip.