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Skidmore College

Study abroad: eight stories

April 3, 2014

The world economy grows more global every day, as do jobs. Gaining an international perspective is growing ever more important, but how best to go about it? And where should you study?

A great opportunity to get answers is Skidmore’s first ‘International Show & Tell’ event Friday, April 4, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall Atrium.

Sponsored by the Office of Off-Campus Study and Exchanges (OCSE), the program will feature eight select Skidmore seniors, with widely different majors and study abroad program choices, who will share their experiences in person, through exhibits and multimedia, even through homemade food from their “home” countries. Their overall presentations will be evaluated by a panel of judges on how well they cover the categories of academics, cultural immersion, and reentry, as well as their creativity in doing so. The grand prize is a $500 travel voucher; there is also a runner-up award.

Great Wall
Emily Ferguson '14, second from right, studied
 Beijing. With her, from left, are classmates 
Wyatt Gordon, Sandi Cheng, and Samantha
Cochrane, all seniors. 

The student lineup includes:

  • Maia Moog ’14, a neuroscience major who studied in Thailand,
  • Emily Ferguson ’14, an international affairs and French double major who studied in Beijing,
  • Kathyrn McIntosh ’14, a biology major who studied in Denmark,
  • Megan Pini ’14, a government major who studied in Berlin,
  • Emma Matthies ’14 and Sofie Belkin-Sessler ’14, anthropology majors who studied in Bolivia and India, respectively,
  • Eva Hagan ’14, a music major who studied in Vienna, and,
  • Norah Crossnohere ’14, an environmental studies major who studied in Costa Rica.

“We are always looking to provide returning study-abroad students opportunities to share their experiences and insights with the Skidmore community,” says OCSE Program Manager Eliza Camire-Akey. “It’s important for them to continue to process their time abroad and to be acknowledged for their accomplishments.”

She added, “Of course, there’s no better way for other students to gain insight into studying abroad than to talk to students who have already done it. We hope lots of students and community members will take advantage.”

Kathryn McIntosh decided on Denmark and the Danish Institute for Study Abroad because of its rigorous core courses, especially one called “Health Delivery and Prioritization in Northern Europe,” a study of public health and healthcare in Northern Europe and how it compares with the rest of the world. She says it was “especially relevant because I took it while the U.S. was having the debate about the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.”

Eva Hagan
Eva Hagan '14 studied in Vienna.

Scandanavian countries, including Denmark, she adds, “view healthcare as a human right, whereas many people in the U.S. view it as a sellable commodity.…This perspective will be valuable to me as I go on to work in the healthcare field because I will not be trapped into thinking [our] way is the only way or best way to provide healthcare.”

Emma Matthies was grateful to get into the real world after two years studying anthropology in Skidmore classrooms. “There really is no better way to study anthropology than by putting yourself into a culture and living it,” she says of her SIT Bolivia experience. Her independent study project on the changing food culture in the town of Cochabamba got her out in the field and is now the basis for her senior capstone.

After graduation, Matthies hopes to return to South America as an activist, most likely in the fight against GMO’s and the large-food corporations. “None of that would be an option if I hadn’t gone to Bolivia and seen the people fighting for what they believed in, and winning.”

For Emily Ferguson, returning to the U.S. was more of a culture shock than going to China in the first place, a common theme for many returnees. “I was ready to embrace how different everything would be [in China],” she says. “But when I came home, I didn’t realize how different I would be. How different things would look to me. I grew and learned so much [in China] and I learned to appreciate and understand a world far from my own, so I wasn’t quite prepared to see my own country in a different light when I came back.”

Ferguson also felt that “no one understood what these transformative months had been like.” She found it helpful to keep in touch with her fellow China study-abroaders “because they were going through the same thing, and at least we could get through it together.”

It’s all part of the exhilarating challenge and reward of learning in another country and culture, taking risks and being open to new perspectives about the world, and yourself and your future.

For more on Off-Campus Study & Exchanges, click here

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