Bryant University is a university that is special. We have a very unique culture and experience that we are very fortunate to have as bulldogs. One experience that makes us special is our Sophomore International Experience. When it comes to transformational academic programs, our students frequently cite the innovative Sophomore International Experience (SIE), during which you’ll learn firsthand about the cultures and commerce in other countries. According to the Bryant University website, the three-credit course, held during winter and summer breaks, begins the semester before departure with an introduction to cultural norms, historical reading and analysis, language study, and art appreciation. Since it began in 2007, more than 2,014 Bryant sophomores have taken part in this enriching course, which begins weeks before your departure with an introduction to cultural norms, historical reading and analysis, language study, and art appreciation. Your international experience will include faculty and staff who guide you on a journey of discovery. Having this experience early in your academic career may inspire you to pursue additional study abroad and/or an international internship: 44 percent of Bryant students who choose to study abroad for a semester or a year have first been on an SIE trip. This winter, we had sophomores travel all across the globe such as Chile, Argentina, Spain, Germany, China, Malaysia, Singapore, and Italy. Here are what the students had to say!

Students enjoying a kyak ride on SIE in Latin America
Students enjoying a kyak ride on SIE in Latin America

Tayla Guiffrida, Latin America
There is this unwritten competition happening between SIE trips. “My trip was better than yours.” We’ve all posted several pictures on our social medias emphasizing that truly our trip was the best trip. And I am telling you- Our SIE trip to Chile and Argentina was the best. It was 90+ degrees almost every day and the adventures we embarked on I will carry with me forever. Starting our journey in Buenos Aires Argentina. Here was the start to a life changing journey. We visited an orphanage in the beginning of the trip named Hogar Al Alba- truly the most humbling day, I and my other peers encountered. We met the most beautiful loving children that have left a forever mark on our hearts, even though we only knew them for a few short hours. Other adventures we had while we traveled the streets of Buenos Aires was kayaking down the Delta Tigre (which was for me the best day of my short 20 years of living.) It was one of those days where the sun was so high in the sky and so strong. We were in such a beautiful location, everyone was just laughing and enjoying themselves. During this day I had one of those – I am so blessed to be here” moments. I have told so many people about this day, they are probably sick of me by now! After a week in Buenos Aires and a short plane ride later we arrived in Chile, first Viña del Mar then Santiago. Our week started with relaxing on the beaches, soaking up the sun and exploring the graffiti streets of Viña. And our week ended with a truly memorable moment white rafting through the Andes Mountains. Everyone can say their trip was the best and I am sure it truly was incredible, but for me, Chile and Argentina gave me so many memories, experiences, and new friendships that will stay with me for as long as I will be able to remember.”

Great views seen on the SIE trip to China
Great views seen on the SIE trip to China

Cassidy Riendeau and Abdallah Issa, China
“China SIE was the most adventurous, jam-packed, memorable two weeks of my entire life to date. I never would have imagined simply two weeks could have made such a distinct impact on myself. We traveled from Beijing to Yangshuo to Zhuhai, to Shanghai, back to Hawaii in the United States while living and learning so much culture along the way. Activities in our trip included cave exploration, cliff climbing, cooking Chinese cuisine, visiting the Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China, making connections at the brand new Bryant University Zhuhai, networking at the Lenovo Company headquarters, experiencing the night life in every city, Touring Pearl Harbor, viewing temples and meeting high school students who wish to come to the United States someday to study at our schools! This experience is almost impossible to describe in words. It was such a life-changing experience that allowed me to not only make friends halfway around the planet, but also bond with my fellow students I live with at Bryant’s campus. I would recommend this SIE trip to absolutely anyone willing to learn a lot of cultural aspects of life that differ from home, make business connections essential to success back in the United States, and most importantly have a blast while doing it all! Bryant has the name right- SIE is certainly an “experience” unlike any other.”

“SIE China has taught me a lot about myself and the world around me. Specifically, making sure to be on time. Fun fact I overslept and missed the bus ride to the airport from Bryant and as a result ended up having to rebook my flight for the following day being a day late to China. This event along with many other contributed to me learning how important it is be organized and being on time. However, finally making it to China and experiencing this two week journey has jumpstarted the car battery in my ride of exploring the world. The world is not as different as the news or national geographic documentaries depict it to be and going to an exotic country like China at times made me feel like I was back home. My own favorite memory from this trip was climbing The Great Wall of China. Getting up there was awful and at any point I thought was going to fall off the steps, but being there looking across the land was worth the journey. The fact that The Great Wall is one of the most well-known landmarks in the world and standing there was something I had never pictured myself doing and do not regret it one bit.”

Zach Mastrianni, Germany and Spain
I was fortunate enough to go on SIE Germany/Spain!  On this trip we went to Munich, Germany, Seville, Spain, Salzburg, Austria, and Tavira, Portugal.  For me, this was my first time out of the country so I didn’t know what to expect.  With that being said, it was one of the best experiences of my life.  I learned so much about German and Spanish culture.  One thing I was not prepared for was how different their cultures were going to be from American culture.  In their countries, everything moves so much slower.  Being late to something is socially acceptable.  My favorite memory from the trip was when we went to Salzburg for the day!  The day started with us going to a salt mine, which was really cool (Can you put the pic of us four going down the slide please).  Then in the afternoon we took a tour of Salzburg.  I am a HUGE fan of The Sound of Music so being able to see where The Sound of Music was filmed was a dream come true!  The people I went on SIE with have became some of my closest friends here at Bryant and I highly recommend everyone take advantage of this opportunity.  It is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

Students on the SIE Italy trip
Students on the SIE Italy trip

Danielle Dunn and Joseph Rinaldi, Italy
“We had the pleasure of traveling to Italy for SIE. In the course of twelve days, we toured 10 different cities in Italy including Vatican City. Some of the highlights of our trip were climbing the Floretnine Duomo, navigating the streets of Venice, and visiting the Sistene Chapel. We were very surprised to learn the restaurant atmostphere. In Italy, dining is taken very seriously. The experience can last up to three hours, with each course served separately. Many of the Italians spoke fluent English, but we tried to speak the language as much as possible. There were many street vendors who were willing to barter, and there were also very high end shops who claimed that “quality has no sales”. The churches were highly guarded and very well maintained, they were a central part of each city. Overall, it was an amazing experience and we recommend SIE Italy to the class of 2020.”

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