London Freshmen: What’s it Like Coming Back to Skid?

Coming back to campus from the FYE London program was really exciting! I loved London so much (and frequently wished I were back there during the semester) but it was so refreshing to have the crazy amount of clubs and people around that weren’t really so accessible to us while we were abroad. It was nice to come back earlier than everyone else so that we could move our stuff in and get reacquainted with the campus without being overwhelmed by all the new faces and the stress of classes. A lot of other students had worried me about coming back to campus and having trouble breaking into friend groups, but it was really comforting to already have my “London freshman” family. Coming to campus with 32 really good friends significantly boosted my confidence and allowed me to branch out easily. It was also really easy to get involved on campus. I joined the Peer Health Educators, while other London Freshman joined music ensembles and sports clubs like Ultimate Frisbee and Quidditch. Other freshmen were also really interested in getting to know us! My first couple weeks on campus, people from my floor were knocking on my door to welcome me and introduce themselves. It was a really weird experience, but reminded me how friendly Skidmore is. Our orientation leaders also had a huge part in helping us transition back. They’d invite us to eat with them, tell us about events happening on the weekend, and really just took us under their wing. If there would be any piece of advice I’d give you about coming back to Skidmore, it’d be to have no reservations about reaching out to your orientation leaders! They were so nice to us and knew exactly what we were going through. I hope you all had a wonderful time abroad, but I hope you have an even better time back at Skid!

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Returning home and the inevitable ‘Now What?’

Picture yourself sitting on a plane about to fly across the world to live and study for four months. There are no guarantees that everything will be the same upon your return. Are you ready to leave your friends and family for four months? Are you ready to live independently in a foreign country? These are the questions we all ask ourselves before we decide to study abroad. We take that initial risk to get on that plane and begin our journeys to a foreign land. But very rarely in our decision-making process do we think about the plane ride back and returning home.

I was fortunate enough to study in Beijing, China during the Fall of 2013. Like you, I was asking all of these questions before I made my decision. As I sat on the plane I wondered what would change while I was away, if anything. Little did I know that most of the change I would eventually experience would stem from myself rather than others. I didn’t realize this fact until the summer after my spring semester at Skidmore.

Upon my initial return home everything fell back into place in almost no time at all. I got into a routine and the initial high of seeing and catching up with everyone wore off relatively quick. Some friendships had shifted a bit due to my time away but for the most part nothing felt very different with my close friends. It was thrilling to tell everyone about my experience in China and share pictures upon pictures but I became well aware that it would soon become old news. I needed an outlet for my stories and one thing that helped me was using my creativity. I made collages, and videos among other things to help me reflect on my experience. I got more involved with OCSE programs and kept my eye out for specific programs that would relate to me. Being able to talk to others who were abroad helped me feel less isolated. It is easy to fall into a mundane routine where nothing is new or exciting as it was when you were abroad. Getting the opportunity to talk to others who had similar experiences flooded my mind with memories and brought back the excitement of when I was in China.

Experiencing reverse culture shock is not a familiar feeling and even with my research on the subject beforehand, I didn’t expect it to happen to me. One significant piece of advice I can give is to not sell your experience short. You will feel as if your time abroad was amazing and in reality it was amazing. You should be proud of your journey and the risk you took. Keep in mind that others will want to hear about your story when you get back but not so much a couple months later when you’re cramming for finals week. My advice is to keep in touch with friends you made abroad, write/draw/create things that will help you reflect and remember, and utilize the OCSE office and the programs they offer. No one said readjustment would be easy, but it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think.

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International Education Week! Nov. 17th – 21st

International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education. According to the Department of Sate’s website, this is a week to celebrate and highlight programs and initiatives that “prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences in the United States”. Well, Skidmore College certainly has a lot to celebrate!

  • Nearly 60% of each graduating class studies off campus
  • Skidmore was ranked 2nd in the U.S. in the list of Top 40 Baccalaureate Institutions by Mid-Length Duration of Study Abroad (students spending a semester abroad) in the most recent Institute of International Education’s (IIE) annual Open Doors Report
  • Each year we welcome students from all over the world to pursue their undergraduate degree at Skidmore. In fact, 10% of this year’s incoming class are international students!

The faculty and staff and Skidmore also add to the Global landscape here. Each semester we have faculty researching, writing, teaching and gaining international experience  abroad that they then bring back to the campus.

Here are a list of events we’ll be having throughout the week to recognize International Education Week: http://www.skidmore.edu/ocse/events/iew.php

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OCSE Photo Contest! And the winners are…

Off-Campus Study & Exchanges is pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 OCSE Photo Contest. OCSE received over 200 photos from students that studied off-campus during the 2013-14 academic year. Photos were submitted in one of two categories, Student Experience and Sense of Place. A first-place winner was selected for each category. A Best of Show award was also given for the best overall photo. Here are the winners!

Winner of the "Student Experience" category.  "Identifying Fish at 100ft" was taken by Emily Hendry while studying on the SFS program in the Turks & Caicos.

Winner of the “Student Experience” category.
“Identifying Fish at 100ft” was taken by Emily Hendry while studying on the SFS program in the Turks & Caicos.

Winner of the "Sense of Place" category. "Water Delivery in the Medina" was  taken by Lauren Bosche, who studied abroad on the International Honors Program.

Winner of the “Sense of Place” category.
“Water Delivery in the Medina” was taken by Lauren Bosche, who studied abroad on the International Honors Program.

Winner of Best in Show! "Feria en la calle" was taken by Dan Plumber while studying on the Skidmore in Spain program.

Winner of Best in Show!
“Feria en la calle” was taken by Dan Plumer while studying on the Skidmore in Spain program.

Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to everyone who submitted photos! It was such a pleasure to see all that you experienced abroad. We’ll make sure to upload all of the photos to our website in the coming days.

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It’s not too late to spend your spring semester in Spain!

We’ve extended the application deadline for Skidmore in Spain to October 15! In honor of this exciting news, I asked our staff in Madrid and the recently returned Skidmore students who studied in Spain to tell me WHY students should choose Spain…

Top Ten (or 13) reasons to study in Spain this spring

  1. In Spain, spring starts in February
  2. The opportunity to travel a lot on weekends because of “puentes.”
  3. Great support from staff that will help you find any internships or extracurricular that suits you
  4. The building’s architecture and art is for public consumption!
  5. Festival time! In the spring semester you’ll be there for Dos de Mayo, San Isidro, among other celebrations
  6. Host families that genuinely care about your well-being and help you explore the culture
  7. Tapas! free, delicious food! (“tapas” at traditional “bars” that are served for free when you order a drink)
  8. Madrid is one of the most gorgeous cities in the world
  9. The metro system is the best in the world!
  10. Madrid never sleeps. There’s always something to do.
  11. You can take a glassblowing class!
  12. Learn what the words “guai” and “mola” mean.
  13. Madrileños are sweet and welcoming people

Stop by Starbuck 202 to learn more about this program. You can apply online here!

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London FYE 2011 (throwback Thursday)

Awe! Look at this group of first years ready to take on the world! And so many of you chose to study abroad AGAIN!

London FYE Group - 2011

Orientation in Saratoga – before the Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunt in Saratoga

Scavenger hunt in Saratoga

Scavenger hunt finish at Ben & Jerry’s

London Orientation – Group trip to Oxford

Group trip to Scotland

Here’s to a great senior year. Can’t wait to see where you’ll all go next…

-Eliza

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New OCSE bloggers!

Mirella Nappi ’15 and Katie Pazienza ’15 are abroad and blogging!

Tea Time With Mirella - The Shakespeare Programme in London

Katie Abroad – API in Florence Italy

Are you blogging abroad?! Let us know and we can share your blog too!

Cheers,

Eliza

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Being a Small Part of Something Bigger While Studying Abroad

Posted on behalf of Sara Gagnon ’15, who recently returned from a semester on the Skidmore in Spain program:

I owe my great experience interning in Madrid, Spain to the staff on the Skidmore in Spain program, especially Luis Castilla and Chavela Olivares. They helped me find the Club de Madrid, a non-governmental organization that works to promote democracy worldwide through the experience of its membership made up of ex-heads of state and government. Luis and Chavela helped me to translate and prepare my Spanish résumé and were also very supportive—I was terrified about my first Spanish interview but now am extremely happy I did it!

Upon starting, I wasn’t sure how to be comfortable working in a Spanish office, but I was fortunate to work in a place where everyone, regardless of his or her position, is kind and always willing to help. I worked in the Programs department, which consists of four program officers and is headed by a program coordinator. My tasks varied from day to day, and included writing and translating documents and speeches. I was actually given the tasks of translating the first draft of a speech that former president of Spain José Zapatero gave at the UN, as well as a Spanish to English translation of his talking points for a later mission, which I was so excited to do and which proved to be very rewarding work. I spent much of my time researching political systems, current events, leaders, and political climates and examining social media for the program officers. I worked closely with an officer to produce briefing books, which the organization’s members used on their democratic missions. This meant collecting and organizing all logistical information regarding the mission, creating press summaries pertaining to the countries visited and addressed, and physically printing off and assembling the books. I also wrote for the Shared Societies blog, which involved researching and writing stories pertaining to social inclusion. There was an event held in Madrid which I was fortunate enough to attend and take notes on—I was able to meet the ex-president of Latvia and the ex-president of Uruguay, as well as other diplomats, and my boss Amir encouraged me to do some networking. I worked in organizing the event by contacting embassies regarding diplomats’ attendance, which turned out to be the most nerve-racking test (and practice) of my Spanish phone skills I’d ever had.

I loved these tasks because I felt like a part of the Programs department and the Club de Madrid. I wasn’t treated like a typical intern at the bottom of the ladder, who exists only to put information into Excel documents (which I did do on occasion and enjoyed nonetheless), but I was given challenging work and applicable and constructive feedback. My creativity was appreciated and encouraged, which, being a Skidmore student, was really cool. Often my research involved current events, which gave me the opportunity to be doing relevant work that was part of an effort to cause change where change was needed. It was gratifying and fulfilling to do meaningful work, and I learned so much. From the basics of working with a team in an office in a foreign country to the extensive knowledge I gained about international politics and specific countries, I learned so much (literally) every day. I feel more informed and experienced in the field of international politics in many of the world’s regions, which I will use going forward in my studies of Government and Spanish at Skidmore.

Most of all I was inspired by the good work of the people at the Club de Madrid. Their genuineness and commitment to helping people around the world has affirmed for me that I want to do something similar with my life. This internship gave me more than the chance to develop my skills and learn more about both the world and myself. It was an opportunity to be a real part of and give back to the Madrid community that has given so much to me. For that I am grateful.

-Sara Gagnon ’15

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The Early Bird Catches the Worm…

Greeting Early Birds!!

If you’re looking to study off-campus in the spring, keep in mind that some programs have very early deadlines.

For example, the following programs have OCSE deadlines in early to mid September:

If you’re interested in studying in Nagoya, Japan through IES – you must apply by July 15th!!

Don’t forget! You need to apply to OCSE at least two weeks before your program’s deadline. If you have questions about your applications over the summer, give us a call!

For info on all deadlines go here.

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Travel Seminar to Prague – Read along through Prof. Kate Graney’s blog!

Check out Professor Kate Graney’s blog, keeping us updated as she and Prof. Flagg Taylor lead a group of students throughout Prague!

From the airport to the excursions, get a sense of what it’s like when you take your learning outside of the classroom and into the city and streets you’ve been learning about all semester.

If you’d like to learn more about upcoming travel seminars, go here!

 

 

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