Setting sail for London

Setting sail for London

Another batch of Skidmore first-years have embarked on their first semester of college—overseas.

August 23, 2013

Every year on campus, before all the students arrive, before orientation begins and classes convene, a handful of students begin their college experience before any others. They are eager and nervous, and they have a big journey ahead of them—after all, they are flying to London for their first semester of college.

Now in its 13th year, Skidmore’s London First-Year Program continues to generate excitement. The 31 new students will study under the guidance of two Skidmore faculty directors who will oversee the academic program, serve as advisors and mentors, and organize a variety of group cultural excursions and activities.

Like every freshman, each student is required to take a Scribner Seminar; but theirs are specifically designed to take full advantage of London’s resources. Students can choose one of two seminars this year: “Bloomsbury and Its Surroundings,” led by Tom Lewis, professor of English, or “Famine, Warfare, and the Plague in 14th-Century England,” taught by Erica Bastress-Dukehart, associate professor of history.     

“One of reasons I picked the London program was for the academics,” says Bella Bennett ’17. “All of the stuff I’m interested in happens to be what we’re focusing on in London—mainly history and literature.”

Lewis’s seminar will focus on writers from the Bloomsbury area—Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, William Butler Yeats, and Sylvia Plath, to name a few. According to the syllabus, “Students will study this unique area and its changes over the centuries, in the context of English and European history, art and literature,” and they will complete independent projects based on their interests. 

Bastress-Dukehart plans to “peel back the layers of the intervening centuries to “rediscover London and its surrounding towns” when the plague, famine, and warfare were rampant.

“I’m very excited about our faculty members this year,” says Kendra Nelson, program director. “This is Tom Lewis’s second time leading the London program, so he brings a lot of experience with him. Erica, as well, has led a student group to Germany. They both have a fun curriculum planned, and I think the students are going to be very excited.” 

In addition to the seminars, students enroll in four courses taught by a faculty member at the IES Abroad London Center. All courses are considered Skidmore courses, and grades will appear on the Skidmore transcript. IES courses this year include the “History of London: From the Tudors to the Blitz,” “Literature and Place,” and “Theatre in London.”

“I wanted to jump into something completely new,” says Nathan Canada ’17. “Then I want to come back to Skidmore and find myself and find out what I’m all about.” 

There are plenty of opportunities for that: from living in a 1,000-resident international residence hall and riding through London on the top of a red, double-decker bus or below the streets in the Tube, to visiting the Houses of Parliament or the National Gallery, shopping at the markets in central London, enjoying the theater—or maybe catching a glimpse of the new royal baby. 

Tags: Admissions, London FYE, Kendra Nelson, Bella Bennett '17, Nathan Canada '17, Tom Lewis, Erica Bastress-Dukeheart, London
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