Expand your global knowledge

2017 Study Abroad Destination: Florence, Italy


Kevin Perez

The Global Learning Programs and Services Division offices is located on the third floor of building two for students who are interested in studying abroad on April 20, 2016.

Skyline College, as part of the Northern California Study Abroad Consortium (NCSAC), hosted an information session on Tuesday, April 19 for students interested in studying abroad in Florence, Italy for the 2017 spring semester.

The presentation was conducted by Cañada College professor of anthropology Jessica Marshall, who will also be the San Mateo County Community College District faculty lead for the Florence program next spring.

Studying abroad at Skyline is offered through a consortium of community college districts in partnership with the American Institute for Foreign Study.

Faculty from San Mateo County Community College District, Santa Rosa Junior College, Contra Costa Community College District, and Los Rios Community College District lead the programs abroad, the destinations of which are decided up to two years in advance through a process of collaboration.

Marshall, who herself studied abroad in Florence while in college, also brought a group of students to Egypt for an intensive two week study abroad program in 2011, and is an advocate of studying abroad as an important part of collegiate education.

“As an anthropology professor, I don’t know how you can get into deep understanding and critical thinking about the world without experiencing another country,” Marshall said. “Given the world today and how interconnected we are, studying abroad allows a better understanding of other cultures and of your own place in the world.”

For the Florence spring semester, Marshall will be teaching Introduction to Physical Anthropology, Archaeology, and Introduction to Cultural Anthropology courses, which are three credits each. However, students also have the opportunity to take courses offered by faculty members from the four other community college districts in business, political science, history, and art.

Participants in the program will be housed in student accommodations located in the center of Florence, with orientations designed to introduce students to Italian culture, academic expectations, and local laws and customs.

Coupled with weekly cultural activities like cooking classes, wine-tasting lectures, and day trips to landmarks like the leaning tower of Pisa, the program provides an immersive experience into Florentine life.

Director of Special International Programs Zaid K. Ghori is excited to offer this opportunity to “live like a local” in Florence and to continue Skyline’s partnership with NCSAC, which has been sending Skyline students abroad since 1986. His own time abroad in Nigeria and India has been the fundamental basis of his involvement with the Skyline College study abroad program.

“What a lot of students get out of study abroad, it’s not a vacation,” Ghori said. “More and more employers are looking for the global experience a candidate has. Studying abroad is an investment a student makes in their future, especially their career.”

This focus on planning ahead is an important part of study abroad, especially for students who wish to apply for the competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, or other scholarships that can make studying abroad more cost effective.

As such, Tuesday’s information session marks a concerted effort to get the word out to students about the opportunity to study in Florence early, so they can start planning financially and academically for the program in a year’s time.

For more information on the financial aspect of study abroad, opportunities to apply for scholarships, or details on the Florence 2017 program, students are welcome to contact the Skyline College International Programs Office or visit their website at smccd.edu/studyabroad.

Ghori’s last words of advice to any student interested in studying abroad were these: “The student code of conduct, it follows you abroad. The way you represent yourself, the way you represent Skyline, you also have to remember that you are representing the United States, you are showing other people in other countries what an American is like.”