The Skidmore in Spain program begins with the pre-departure orientation held on the Skidmore College campus in Saratoga Springs, New York, during the semester prior to studying abroad. Our Director in Spain, Susan Sánchez Casal, Ph.D., visits the campus to meet with each student individually and also with the group as a whole. During her visit, students receive the following materials:
- General pre-departure handbook
- A copy of the "Guía del Estudiante," a booklet designed and edited by the program containing important practical information
- A pre-orientation guide in English containing "General Information," "Rules and Regulations," and "A Brief Orientation to Spain"
- A phrase book "Hablar en Madriz," designed to help the students with the colloquial use of the Spanish language in the specific situations they will be encountering (family, university, shopping, telephone etc.)
- Prior to their arrival in Spain, students on the Skidmore Program receive the addresses of Spanish students that also study at the University and who are interested in getting to know English-speaking students. Students make initial contact by correspondence with their Spanish pen pals before arrival to Spain. Once they have started the program in Spain, they attend a tapas and wine party that is organized by the staff so that both groups can get to know each other. The Spanish students help facilitate the integration of our students in the University and into Spanish culture as a whole, while Program students help the Spaniards with their English.
Once in Spain, students will have a two days of orientation will be conducted in Madrid, and will include both students based in Madrid and Alcalá. These first days will consist of ice-breaking/group activities and presentations/discussions about program guidelines, host families, security and intercultural adaptation. Following this two-day orientation, students will be picked up by their host families to settle in. Orientation activities specific to Madrid and Alcalá will continue over the following week.
Excursions and cultural activities are an integral part of the Skidmore program. We plan guided trips of historic cities that are led by experts and serve to expose students to some of Spain's historic and artistic treasures found off the beaten tourist track.
In the past, we have visited the medieval Castilian towns of Pastrana and Sigüenza;
the Andalusian cities of Granada, Úbeda, and Baeza to study the remains from their
Arabic past; the wine country of La Rioja situated along the Route of Saint Jacques;
the Renaissance towns of Cáceres and Trujillo; the medieval city of Guadalupe; and
the Roman ruins in Mérida.
Because we strongly believe in the benefits of independent exploration, we encourage our students to take advantage of the many cultural opportunities available throughout Alcalá and Madrid. To this end, we subsidize a variety of extracurricular activities and cultural travel for our students. In addition, monthly attendance of plays, films, exhibits, concerts, and lectures supplement students' course work.
The Program provides a monthly list of cultural activities in Madrid that students are encouraged to attend with their Spanish friends or family and whose costs are fully reimbursed. These activities include visits to art exhibits, theater and dance productions, Spanish films, Spanish concerts, and lectures.
In addition, students are encouraged to pursue extracurricular activities of their choice. In the past, students have chosen to get a pool or gym memberships or take a local ceramics, guitar, cooking, or dance lessons.
In order to make these opportunities accessible to all students, we have a reimbursement program to offset the costs
- Up to 290€ reimbursement for extracurricular activities (gym membership, classes at private academies, glassblowing, dance & cooking classes, and so on)
- Up to 170€ reimbursement for travel within Spain
- Selective reimbursement for program approved cultural activities (plays, art exhibits, movies, museums, monuments)