Student Profile: Sean Bright
November 11, 2016
Class of 2017, History Major and Economics Minor
Sean Bright has long held an interest in foreign lands and cultures. As a student at Bridgewater College, he has found a way to satisfy that curiosity through the Study Abroad Program.
Sean spent the 2015 fall semester studying in Wroclaw (pronounced VROT-swaf), a city in southwestern Poland with International Student Exchange Programs (ISEP).
As a history major, Sean was drawn to the incredible history of Poland. “Some of the deepest moments of our recent history—the start of World War II, the Holocaust, the fall of communism and ultimately the Soviet Union—all happened in this country,” he said. “It is a nation that has endured so much, and yet still retains a fierce patriotism and optimism for the future.”
Sean studied at Wroclaw University, located in the center of the city. His classes—taught in English—included recent Polish history, the economic transformation of Central Europe after 1989 and U.S. foreign policy. He also took a Polish language course, which provided him with basic knowledge to navigate the streets.
While in Poland, Sean lived about a mile from the university in a dorm apartment, which was comparable to a mini United Nations. He shared a room with a Ukrainian, Mykhailo, and together they shared a kitchen, bathroom and foyer with a Spaniard, Rubén, and a Frenchman, Kevin.
Relying on public transportation to get around, Sean used the city tram system, small trains that run on the streets. “It was very affordable,” he noted. “A semester-long pass for the city transportation was 150 zlotys, or less than $40.”
On All Saints Day, Sean found himself in a cemetery where family members put red candle lanterns on the graves of dead relatives. This is “a hauntingly beautiful sight at night,” he said.
During study breaks, Sean took time for travel around Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany. Train and bus tickets were usually less than $20 round trip.
“It’s extremely easy to explore and learn about other cities or regions,” he stated.
According to Sean, the history professors at BC teach students to look at a given issue from many angles. “That happens through interacting with people from all over Europe and Asia,” he said, “and also by studying Poland’s story, which is very complicated and controversial.”
“As a historian here [in Poland], I have to focus on not only what people did and what it meant then,” he said, “but also what it means now. This country is still visibly changing and growing. It is exciting and humbling being part of the effort to study and chronicle the story of this nation.”
Looking back on his experience, Sean definitely recommends study abroad for other students. “Keep your mouth shut, your ears perked and your eyes open to take in everything,” he advised. “Everyone has something to teach you—make sure you’re always listening.”