Bridgewater VA.- Bridgewater College began working with the International Student Exchange Program in 2012 to give students the opportunity to travel and to experience different cultures as a part of the college journey.
The International Student Exchange Program is a non-profit organization that helps students who wish to study abroad for a semester facilitated by their tuition fees. ISEP states that the program lets a student “pay your tuition and fees to your home institution and open up a spot for someone to come learn at your university.”
Anne Marsh, director of study abroad at Bridgewater College, began helping students who wish to study abroad eight years ago. She is also the person who helps ISEP inbound students adjust to life here at Bridgewater.
“Every year, students at Bridgewater College have the chance to choose from over 50 countries for their study abroad,” said Marsh.
Junior Erika Spaulding is one of Bridgewater College’s most recent students who was in the ISEP.
Spaulding is majoring in Business with minors in German and Art. After graduating with her Business degree from Bridgewater College, Spaulding’s goal is to open her own animal rescue shelter to help rescue any animals that need help.
In the fall semester of 2019, Spaulding went to Philipps-Universität in Marburg, Germany.
During her time at Philipps-Universität, Spaulding took a course in intensive language in a span of six weeks, prior to when the actual semester started, as a requirement of the ISEP Exchange. She also took a culture course, which involved traveling around the city and even to other cities to experience what the culture is like.
“Through the [ISEP] program,” Spaulding said, “I got to go on another big trip with 50 other students who also came from English-speaking countries to two famous cities in Germany, Berlin and Leipzig.”
Spaulding’s decision to go to Germany was that her family “speaks very casual German,” which Spaulding said is “very different from having to learn in a classroom setting.”
Prior to going abroad, Spaulding took some German language courses at Bridgewater College. While she believes “one doesn’t need to have any German experience to go to Germany for a study abroad,” she recommends taking a language course “because you get a lot out of the experience if you at least know some basis of the language.”
During this experience, Spaulding highlighted how she learned to be more independent. She talked about the adjustment she had to go through from having an actual campus to living in a city, without a campus. She mentioned how she had to cook her own meals sometimes and it made her realize how Bridgewater College can “really baby us.”
At the end of her experience, Spaulding was “very happy” she got to experience the German culture first hand and advised students to consider studying abroad. “It is not easy but it is worth the try,” Spaulding said.
For every student that gets sent out from Bridgewater College, another student is given the opportunity to study here.
Senior Jungjin Kim is currently an International Student Exchange from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. She is a sociology and statistics major, but because Bridgewater College does not offer a major in statistics, Kim is taking only sociology courses here.
Kim has always wanted to study in the U.S., so when she learned of the ISEP Exchange, she proceeded to look for a school to go to; Bridgewater College stood out.
Kim’s favorite thing about being at Bridgewater College is the peacefulness and tightness of the community. “Here at BC, you have the chance to know almost everybody and that’s good,” Kim said.
Before coming to Virginia, Kim was worried that she might face “racial discrimination or physical danger.” After spending a few weeks on campus, Kim came to realize that Bridgewater College is “very different in the way that people at BC are very nice and the community feels like a safe space to be at.”
Kim enjoys making new friends and hanging out with them both on and off campus. She loves sharing a meal with friends and even meeting new people at the KCC.