If you had told me as a freshman that I would spend my entire junior year away from Skidmore, I would have told you that you’re crazy. After all, I loved Skidmore’s campus and all that it had to offer! Who would want to be away from friends and family for that long?

My name is Rachel McPherson and I studied off-campus in Freiburg, Germany and Washington, DC. As a political science major, I could not have picked better programs! While in Germany, I was able to study the institutions of the European Union and see just how different the political climate is across the Atlantic. I travelled to over fifteen different countries and met with countless foreign diplomats who offered their insights and expertise on European Union politics and policies. The opportunity was like nothing I had ever experienced before and profoundly shaped how I viewed American politics.

After returning from Germany, I spent a semester at American University in Washington, DC. This program combines classroom studies with an internship experience so that students can apply the concepts they learn while networking in the nation’s capital. I chose the “American Politics” concentration and found that it drastically changed the course of my career. I was able to deepen my understanding of domestic issues and connect with industry professionals at a level that otherwise would not have been available to me. It was due to the connections made in DC that I received (and accepted) an internship offer for that very summer.

Now that I am back at Skidmore, I’m getting used to the “traditional” college experience again; namely, taking classes five days per week, writing papers, and participating in group projects. I profoundly miss traveling across Europe or reading on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, but there’s nothing quite like coming home to Skidmore’s campus.