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:

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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…


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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!



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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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Site visit to Cusco, Peru with IPSL

After a  L O N G day of travel, I arrived in Cusco, Peru. Cusco is at about 11,000 ft above sea level and the city rests in a valley surrounded by mountains. It is absolutely beautiful.

A view of Cusco from Saksaywaman.

A view of Cusco from Saksaywaman.

The IPSL program incorporates service learning into the academic program. Students take courses at the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola (USIL) as well as volunteer 10-15 hours a week at one of the handful of placements in the area. Classes are taught in English, with the exception of the required Spanish language course and a literature course, so students with varying levels of Spanish can do this program. The University in Cusco is a branch campus of the larger University in Lima. At Cusco, there are about 100 students at any given time from around the world.

While I was there, I visited 3 of the possible service placements:

  • The Huillcapata School, about 40 minutes outside of Cusco, where our students work in the classroom, help with agricultural projects, assist in maintaining and updating the facilities, and whatever other jobs are needed.
  • The Juvenile Home Maria Salome Ferro, which is in downtown Cusco, is a home for children that are orphans or come from homes that are unsafe. Students lead workshops, help with cleaning and cooking, and any other projects as needed.
  • The Clinic of San Juan de Dios, which is about 10 minutes from USIL, is a clinic for children and adults with disabilities. Our students organize activities for the kids, help with meals, cleaning, and general playtime with the children.

Within these placements and job tasks, students are encouraged to look at the needs of the organization and see what else they can realistically contribute to during their semester. IPSL facilitates reflection writing on this experience and hopefully helps our students examine what it means to be a study abroad student serving in the Cusco community.

I also got a chance to visit nearby cultural and historical sites in and around Cusco. Cusco is in many ways considered the historical and religious center of Peru. This was the capital of the Inca Empire and the center of Spanish colonization of the Andean world. You can see examples of Inca architecture throughout the city (including the  building you take your classes in!) as well as the churches and cathedrals that the Spanish built.

I fell in love with this city and hope to return to explore it further. Imagine having an entire semester to do just that?!

Here are a few photos from the trip. Please get in touch with me if you’d like to learn more about this program.

This is the courtyard of USIL

This is the courtyard of USIL

A street in Cusco

A street in Cusco


Pictures the children from Huillcapata painted!

Pictures the children from Huillcapata painted!


A road in Huillcapata village

A road in Huillcapata village

A llama! You'll become very familiar with llamas, alpacas, and Vicuñas.

A llama! You’ll become very familiar with llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas.

A field of Quinoa, something you'll eat a lot of in Cusco!

A field of Quinoa, something you’ll eat a lot of in Cusco!

The Sacred Valley - a day trip away

The Sacred Valley – a day trip away

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu



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Skidmore en España

I am back from Spain and feeling so energized about our program in Madrid & Alcalá. During my week visiting the program, I was able to meet the faculty and staff at our centers and to catch up with our Skidmore students wrapping up their time in Spain.

Hearing how much Spain has become home to these students was probably the biggest takeaway of the experience. The people they met in classes, the bond that was created with their homestay families, the work skills developed in their internships, and the daily routines they each established with local gyms, cooking classes, favorite cafes and bars – it was clear that Spain was now a part of their identity. And did I mention their Spanish?! I was SO impressed with the confidence and ease at which these students communicated entirely in Spanish. Wow.

Other points:

  • The food in Spain is reason enough to study there. I ate my weight in olives, manchego, fresh seafood, and tortilla de patata.
  • Madrid is a large city that somehow manages to feel familiar almost instantly.
  • Alcalá is magical. The history, the people, and the crazy amount of storks that live in this small city made this one of my favorite spots.
  • If you go in the fall, you’ll be there for this and this. Plus, in the fall you can decided to extend for the full year…which you’ll totally want to do.
Alcalá is so beautiful.

Alcalá is so beautiful. Who wouldn’t want to live here?!


I tagged along for the Contemporary Spanish Art History class where we visited la reina sofia museum

I tagged along for the Contemporary Spanish Art History class where we visited la Reina Sofia museum

The Plaza Colón is right down the road from the Madrid center.

The Plaza Colón is right down the road from the Madrid program center.

Here's Professor Rangil with the same group in front of Reina Sofia!

Here’s Professor Rangil with the same group in front of Reina Sofia!

Olives and manchego at the Mercado San Miguel.

Olives and manchego at the Mercado San Miguel.

If you want to learn more about this program, feel free to email me or give a call. I’d love to tell you all about it…


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