Study Abroad FlorenceOn Saturday, January 12, 2019, the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) Study Abroad Program participated in the Northern California Study Abroad Consortium (NCSAC) Pre-Departure Orientation at American River College in Sacramento. The orientation was in preparation for students’ upcoming semester abroad in Florence, Italy.

SMCCCD will send 19 students to Florence for the Spring 2019 semester as part of a cohort of 111 students from the consortium. Faculty and students depart for Italy on February 2, 2019 and return May 3, 2019. Other participating districts include Contra Costa Community College District, Los Rios Community College District and Santa Rosa Junior College. The program is offered in partnership with the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS). San Mateo County Community College District has participated in the consortium since 1986.

This semester, students in the program will have the opportunity to take courses in art, history, biology and English. College of San Mateo Professor of Fine Arts, Rebecca Alex, will teach four courses in Florence: Drawing I, Drawing II, Old Masters’ Aesthetics and Techniques, and Italian Life and Culture. Professor Alex’s art courses were very popular and filled early on. Students enrolled in her courses have expressed excitement to draw and paint in the home of the Renaissance and world-famous scientists and artists. Professor Alex has arranged to hold many of her classes inside the museums and gardens of Florence and students will have the opportunity to draw sculptures like Michelangelo’s David in person.

In the Old Masters’ Aesthetics and Techniques course, students will make their own paints and materials and will create with the mediums of the historical periods they study. Professor Alex has collaborated with a local art historian in Florence to develop art history lectures to accompany the studio art components of the course.

We want to congratulate two students, Valentin Viera from Skyline College and Ireri Vargas Tello from Cañada College, who were selected to receive scholarships from AIFS. As part of their scholarship, they will share their experiences in Florence with fellow students when they return to campus next semester.

SMCCCD Study Abroad is the district-wide study abroad program housed in the Global Learning Programs and Services Division at Skyline College. For more information about studying or interning abroad, faculty teach abroad opportunities, community travel for lifelong learners, visiting international faculty presenters and student scholarship opportunities, please contact Zaid Ghori at (650) 738-7088 or You can also learn more by visiting the SMCCD Study Abroad Facebook page or Instagram page @smcccd_study_abroad.

Article by Stephanie Wells | Photo by Zaid Ghori

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