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Visiting International Students Program

As part of Barnard College’s broad initiative to internationalize its campus, the College has created the Visiting International Students Program (VISP) for spring semesters in residence at our campus in New York City. Through a limited number of collaborative relationships with international universities, our partners send cohorts of 3-12 undergraduate students to Barnard to spend the spring semester as full-time visiting students. VISP students are fully integrated into the Barnard College academic and co-curricular community, gaining a broad understanding of how liberal arts institutions in the United States function, exploring the American model of undergraduate education, and studying and researching with Barnard and Columbia University’s world-class faculty, while also contributing to the internationalization of the student body.

Why Barnard? Why New York?

On November 22, 1890 in commemoration of Barnard’s first anniversary, Columbia President Seth Low made the following commentary in the New York Times:

“Part of one's education is in the atmosphere of the place in which he studies,” he said, “and no one can be indifferent to the inspiration which comes from the full life of a great community like New York.”

By immersing visiting international students into life at Barnard, at Columbia, and in New York City, we hope to inspire them, as well as our own students, and to encourage our students as well as those from all partner institutions to "flourish in different cultural surroundings in an increasingly inter-connected world." (From Barnard's mission statement)

In the words of Lisa de Waal, a VISP student from the University of Cape Town, Spring 2011:

"From E.B. White’s love letter to New York, called Here is New York:

'There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter – the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came in quest of something. Of these three trembling cities the greatest is the last – the city of final destination, the city that is a goal.'

Now, we belong to the third kind of New York ‘settler’. Each and every one of us came here with personal goals that we hoped to achieve and with dreams of what this city had in store for us. We can proudly say that we’ve braved the icy cold New York winter; we’ve mastered the art of hailing a cab, catching a bus, and navigating the subway system; and we’ve slaved over numerous papers, but above all, we’ve truly given this experience, this incredible opportunity, all we’ve got - which I think is the greatest achievement of all."