Sarah Mae R. Ismael, taking up Bachelor of Secondary Education major in English, studied as an exchange student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania from January to May 2010. Currently, Sarah is on her fourth year in college. Below is her testimony about her experience as a scholar in the United States of America.
Do you think that the idea of being a scholar in an American university seems far-off? Think again. For one semester, I studied at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) as a scholar of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program (UGrad).The Global UGrad Program is funded by the United States Department of State and works in collaboration with the Fulbright Commission here in the Philippines and other U.S. embassies throughout the world. This year marks the third year of the program here in the Philippines. Every year, students from 20 participating countries in Asia and Latin America are sent to the U.S. to study for either a semester or one academic year.
Studying in IUP is both challenging and fun. I was faced with the kind of freedom and independence that I never expected. I had to make my own decisions. Living away from home made me realize that I am a strong person and I am sure that the Sarah who left five months ago is not the same Sarah who came back.
The best thing about being an exchange student is the chance to make new friends. Of course, learning is fun even when you’re on your own but it is more fun with friends. It is such a great experience to meet people from different parts of the world and to learn their culture. At the same time, one gets to talk about and teach others about your own culture, too.