In a word (bubble): Skidmore in Spain

The Resident Director for our Skidmore in Spain program is coming to visit next week and I’ve been going through past evaluations to try and learn as much as I can about this program. I’m a visual learner and so after reading three years’ worth of quotes from students I decided to cut and paste the whole thing into a word bubble generator. I think this image says a lot about the program:

spain bubble three

The part that really stood out for me was the sense of community these students all seemed to have – with their host family, the staff, the other students on the program, and the people they interned and volunteered with.

Here are just a few quotes on the homestay experience:

“The home stay rocked my world. I loved the language immersion part of the program. I will always recommend to people to study abroad with a home stay because this is how my language improved leaps and bounds. Also, it was so nice to have such a caring host mother. She made me transition and my entire experience so comfortable and enjoyable.”

“The housing was wonderful and I loved having meals at home and having the stipend for meals in the city. I loved this part of the program! I loved my host mother and we had an awesome relationship. We would watch movies together, go grocery shopping together, eat meals together, etc. She was so helpful for learning the language and getting to know the city.”

“The home stay was the best part of my experience. This program truly immersed us in the Spanish language and culture, and my host family was the highlight of this immersion.”

“We were very well taken care of in Spain. My host mother was amazing and really enhanced my experience. The program center was a great place in a great location. The staff there were very friendly and helpful with whatever I needed in Spain. The program was very centered in Spanish immersion and creating a community within our program.”

“The best aspect, BY FAR, was the host family. When I look back on my experience, I think of my host family, how wonderful they were to me, how kind and generous and loving, how they treated me like family, and of course how much Spanish I learned living with them.”

Want to learn more? We’ll be hosting a Meet & Greet with Susan Sánchez Casal on April 2nd from 4-5pm in Starbuck 202!

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A new course for study abroad students!

If you’re planning to studying abroad next spring, you should think about enrolling in the new fall course FL 275: “The Study Abroad Experience“. This one credit course is designed for students who intend to study abroad in a non-English speaking country.

For more information on the course, contact Professor Cindy Evans!


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Still Accepting Applications for Next Fall!

Welcome back from spring break! Did you know that it’s not too late to apply for your fall semester abroad?!


Students applying to a non-Skidmore approved program must submit the OCSE application to our office at least two weeks before their program’s deadline.

Still not sure what steps to take next? Come see us! We have walk-in advising from 1-4pm every week day. Starbuck 202.

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Skidmore in London: High Tea Event

Two minutes into the program, there were more London FYE and London JYA students present than expected. All were ready to indulge into the quintessential British treats including: Digestives, Scones with clotted cream, English breakfast tea and finger-sized sandwiches. The SPA was donned with Union Jack flags and tea pots table decorations with different classic London representations such as the London Tube Map, the London Red Telephone boxes, and the London skyline. The London High Tea Event truly started off with a bang.
As more students from each class of the London FYE program arrived at the event the level of nostalgia rose. The London Freshmen from my year and I were able to catch up on the activities we are doing on campus now and even where we plan to study abroad again during our junior year. It was great to see so many familiar faces and meet many new faces whom also share the same love for London. What a great event!

photo 1 photo 4 photo 10 photo 19  photo 24 photo 25 photo 27

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Show and Tell: a new contest for study abroad returnees!!

As we look towards the end of the semester and for some of you, the end of your time here at Skidmore, we’d like to invite a select group of you to showcase your experience of studying abroad.  To make it a bit more fun, the winner of this showcase will be awarded a $500 travel voucher to help go abroad again.

ROUND ONE: Submit a proposal for your showcase (Due March 17th):
Answer the following questions about your study abroad experience. Include with this a proposal on how you plan to showcase this program using your 4 x 4 table space. Email or drop off proposal to our office.

  1. Academics – Tell us about the “study” portion of your study abroad program.
    1. What kind of classes did you take and why?
    2. Did you do any independent research? If so, what?
    3. Anything that you couldn’t have studied here at Skidmore?
    4. How have you brought this back to your on campus coursework? If so, how?
  2. Living abroad – Tell us what your day to day life was like abroad.
    1. What kind of housing were you in? What were your roommates or host family like?
    2. What did you learn about life in your host community? Local foods? Music? Work style? Political differences? Gender roles? etc.
  3. Coming back – Tell us what it’s like to be home? What did you learn and how was/is the transition?
    1. What was it like to come home after a semester abroad?
    2. What, if anything, did you learn about your own culture/country from living abroad
    3. What was the biggest difference/adjustment returning home
  4. Show! If selected as one of the 8 presenters, how do you plan on showing your audience a glimpse into your experience? Photos, music, souvenirs, video, food, other ideas?

Top 8 finalists will be announced March 21st.

ROUND TWO: Show & Tell event – Friday, April 4th, from 11:30am-1:30pm.
The top 8 proposals will be invited to showcase their study abroad experience for a panel of judges. The winner will receive a $500 travel voucher to help get abroad again.

You will be given a four foot table to decorate as you choose fit (photos, souvenirs, slideshow, signs, etc.) and we’ll invite others from the Skidmore community to come hear about your program. This isn’t a sales pitch but more a time for you to reflect on your experience while educating the Skidmore community on all that you did during that time abroad.

You will be judged on the following criteria:

  1. Highlighting each topic mentioned above (Academics, Living Abroad, Coming home)
  2. Visual appeal/use of table
  3. Creativity (CTM, right?)

Judges will be clearly identified and you should make sure to highlight the topics (in whatever way you want) to them. For all other people that come to the event, you can simply tell them about your time and see if they have questions. Or do the whole spiel you’d do for the judges…it’s really up to you.

Show and Tell poster

Ok. Let’s review: If you want to enter for a chance to showcase your study abroad experience (and win a travel voucher), submit your proposal by March 17th.
If you’re selected, start preparing to impress the judges for the event on April 4th.


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Starting on Monday, February 24th, you’ve got 10 days filled with info sessions, open houses, and informal conversations to help introduce you to all your academic options at Skidmore. Every department will have an event to educate first-year and second-year students on what each major/minor has to offer.

OCSE will be there too! We’ll have our session on Tuesday, March 4th, from 6:30-7:30pm in PMH 304. The Office of Academic Advising will also be there to discuss the SEE-Beyond award. So if you’re considering studying off-campus or looking for funding to do research abroad, come to this event!

You can check out the entire schedule here:

Side note: Lots of these meetings are offering pizza, sundaes, and other yummy snacks so, theoretically, you could have a free snack every weekday from February 24th until March 5th! Exploremore = Eatmore. 

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Student Perspective: The Shock of Coming Home

I returned from China in June of last year. I had spent one semester with Skidmore in Beijing, China’s capital, and one semester with SIT Study Abroad in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province in the southwest of the country, and I had had formative experiences in both locations. In Beijing, I had finally, after 6 years of classroom learning at home, been able to hone my Chinese so that I could communicate and have complex conversations on a daily basis with strangers and with my homestay family. In Kunming, I had used those language skills to broaden my knowledge of China’s many ethnic minorities, their histories, and their interactions with the Chinese state. Specifically, I used that knowledge combined with my language abilities to conduct a month-long independent study project in which I interviewed Chinese minority women about the effects of the rapidly developing tourism industry on their cultural practice.

I was able to travel all over the country with my programs and totally on my own, from the massive metropolises of China’s east coast to subsistence farming villages that line Tiger Leaping Gorge, from Tiananmen Square to the vineyards of the Muslim dominated far west in XinJiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. I made many Chinese friends who shared their worldviews with me, I had begun understanding the enigma that is China, and I was able to speak and write knowledgeably, in Chinese and English, about the current state of Chinese culture, politics, art, and much more. I came back feeling like I had done everything and seen everything, feeling like I could handle everything and anything that came my way, and feeling like a totally independent person.

Then I came home, and all of that changed. I felt constrained. One week I was hiking to an isolated minority village to observe a funeral without any guidance, and the next I was back in my parents’ house, playing video games with my brother, and talking about the newest TV shows and music with my friends. I felt disillusioned with American life and culture. I missed eating family style at every meal, I missed chatting with taxi drivers in Chinese, I missed how respectful and considerate people were towards each other in China, and I couldn’t stand being back in suburban Connecticut. I felt under-stimulated. In China, I had become used to rigorous, discussion based classes about serious, complex political issues, literature, and economics, sometimes in both Chinese and English, so my Sociology lecture classes and sometimes slow, dispassionate discussions made me feel like my academic flourishing had stayed behind at the Beijing airport.

Coming home from abroad can be tougher than going abroad in the first place, and I experienced this first hand. First off, you will face your home culture as if it has become foreign to you. And that’s because it has; it’s called reverse culture shock, and, depending on where you were studying and how apparent the cultural differences you experienced were, it can manifest mildly or severely. It was somewhere in the middle for me, but, however it happens for you, just give yourself time to adjust to and negotiate with your new cultural notions. I still greet strangers whenever I can and make dinner for my housemates to make sure we eat family style because I want to preserve what good I took away from China. But also be ready to sacrifice in adjusting to home, just as you made sacrifices arriving in your host country abroad. One key tip I can give if you do end up missing your host country too much is to check the news from that country, both in the native language and in English. It’s a good way of dealing with nostalgia.

Second of all, you will likely lose some of the independence you experienced abroad; this will likely feel similarly to going home after being at college. You may miss traveling. Try seeing local destinations around Skidmore. We’re only three hours away by car from New York, Boston, and Montreal, but there are also closer attractions such as Woodstock, NY, skiing all over New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and even Albany and its surrounding towns have a lot to offer. There are lots of other ways to stoke that fire of independence and responsibility: start a club, apply for an internship in a field of your interest, get involved with other student organizations, or just do a creative project to keep those juices flowing. You’re just as able to shape your own life at home as you were abroad, you just have to be willing to make the effort.

Finally, the problem of under-stimulation, academic and otherwise, is similar to the problem of independence: you get back that which you are willing to put in. If your classes aren’t living up to your standards, then talk to your professor, and ask if there is a way you can change the class to meet your needs. Ask for additional information and readings if you feel like the course isn’t as in-depth as you had hoped. Continue your abroad journey at home by taking classes that are relevant to that experience. When I got home I made sure to take a Chinese Cinema course as well as two additional Chinese courses just to keep the China bug in my system. If you studied in a non-English speaking nation, then maintaining your language learning is the best way of keeping yourself connected to your time abroad. You can do this by taking additional classes on campus, but you can also reach out to cultural clubs as well as international students from your host-country for more informal, conversational practice. If you’re shy about talking to international students, then just think about what it was like being in their situation, and just remember that everyone loves speaking and being spoken to in their own language.

Coming home is hard, but, like most obstacles in life, it is an opportunity to improve yourself. Draw on your experiences abroad to shape your home life and life on campus to fit the new you. But make sure you don’t go it alone in this process. Let your friends from abroad and your friends at home help you adjust, and make sure to make new friends that share any newfound interests you may have. If all else fails, then make plans to go back. Maybe you’ve found a place that is more home than home, and that’s a beautiful thing.

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Fall deadlines are soon! DIS applicants – this means you too!

We’re less than a month away from our general application deadline for fall semester programs. While the general rule of thumb is to apply to our office two weeks before your program needs their application – this is not always the case. For example, the DIS program classes fill up fast! If you want to study in Copenhagen this fall, you should submit our approved program application no later than March 15th.

Other programs that fill fast:

All SIT/IHP programs
All OTS Programs
ASE in Bath, England

When in doubt, just ask! We have walk in advising from 1-4 every weekday. You can also email us or call to make an appointment.


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Travel Seminar to Venice!

We’re now accepting applications for a new Travel Seminar to Venice, Italy! It’s called “Venice Beyond the Mask: Art, Music and Theatre” and it’s a 2-credit, 200-level seminar that will travel to Venice this May.

Want to learn more?! Check out the website here:

The deadline to apply is Wednesday, February 26, 2014.

Venice, Italy-Evan Friedler-Pastels of the Venetian Lagoon


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Lucy Goes Global TONIGHT!

Tonight is the night we welcome back the students who were off campus last semester! We’ll have live music, food, and a raffle throughout the event. This was one of my favorite things we did last year and I’m super excited to see all of our returnees.

Here’s a link to photos from last year’s celebration:

I hope we see you there tonight!

7pm-9pm – Falstaff’s.


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