BYU gives international students opportunity to live American experience

International students at Universal Studios for the first time. Winter exchange students had the chance to take a trip to Orlando. (Fernanda Arias)

The Incoming Exchange Student program took international students to live an “American experience” in Orlando from Jan. 25-Jan. 28. 

Four international students from the BYU Incoming Exchange Program had the opportunity to visit Universal Studios and Walt Disney World for the first time. 

This winter semester, the program welcomed students from Chile, France, Korea and Italy.

Guests walk through the Universal Studios entrance. Winter exchange students went on a trip to Orlando. (Fernanda Arias)

According to the Whitmore Global Business Center website, the “Incoming Exchange Program allows international students to study at BYU for a semester while paying for tuition at their home institution.”

This program has been in function since 2006 between the BYU Marriott School of Business and three other universities located in China, Mexico and Brazil, according to the website. It has since expanded and collaborates with universities all over the world, including universities in France, Germany, Portugal and Spain.

Part of the program involves giving students the opportunity to experience American culture through activities such as trips or excursions to iconic American places. 

“I could understand the American culture and have fun in the middle of a busy semester,” Taeri Kim, an exchange student from South Korea majoring in French, said.

Sam Brown, director of International Student and Scholar Service, said the International Student Program is for J1 students, meaning they come for a semester-long cultural immersion.

Winter exchange students on their trip to Orlando. Incoming exchange students get the chance to have an “American experience” while studying in the U.S. (Fernanda Arias)

The difference between this program and other international student programs is the aim to generate ambassadors of the U.S. in different countries around the world who can share their American experience. 

“I had the opportunity to discover the life of a student in the United States with all the events organized on campus, the intramural tournaments and by visiting the country,” Eliott Perray, an exchange student from France majoring in business, said.

The program is overseen by the Department of State. The ISSS reports on activities international students participate in throughout the year. 

“Being in a small city (like Provo) allows me to really see the essence of the American life … everything is authentic,” Matteo Maggi, an international student from Italy majoring in business, said.

The ISSS plans a monthly cultural activity, and a trip or big activity with the students at the beginning of the semester. 

This semester, international students will have the opportunity to visit locations around Utah, such as Park City and national parks, and have an American-style birthday party. 

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