The SMCCCD Study Abroad Office is abuzz with activities as the Spring 2024 semester starts. It welcomed the Fall 2023 Barcelona, Spain study abroad cohort group back home and also eagerly prepares for the departure of 27 students bound for Florence, Italy in the Spring of 2024.

Welcome Back Lunch for Fall 2023 Barcelona Program Students
Photo by Snow Linxue Guo

Pre-Departure Orientation in Sacramento
On Saturday, January 13, 2024, despite the windy and stormy weather, 27 students from the San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) gathered at American River College in Sacramento for the pre-departure orientation for the Spring 2024 Florence Program. The students, displaying enthusiasm, engaged in discussions with peers from other community college districts (Contra Costa, Los Rios, Santa Rosa) who are also part of the program in Italy. The representatives of the program provider – the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS), faculty leaders, and the study abroad administrators and staff also attended the session.

Student check-in at Spring 2024 Florence Pre-departure Orientation at American River College
Photo by Alice Yang

The orientation covered a comprehensive range of topics, providing students with essential information for their upcoming global learning adventure. Logistics, such as packing, flight details, travel arrangements, living in Florence, housing specifics, health and safety guidelines, as well as information about student services and cultural activities, were all part of the agenda.

Spring 2024 Florence Pre-departure Orientation at American River College
Photo by Kelly Li

SMCCCD, as one of the two largest sending institutions, is set to dispatch a cohort of 27 students to Florence for the Spring 2024 semester, contributing to a total of 90 students from the consortium. The departure is scheduled for February 3, 2024, and the students are expected to return on May 3, 2024.

Reunion Lunch for Returning Barcelona Students
Before the departure of the Spring 2024 cohort, the SMCCCD Study Abroad Office organized a get-back-together lunch event on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, to welcome back students who had recently returned from Barcelona in the Fall Semester of 2023. This provided an opportunity for the study abroad returnees to reconnect and share their experiences from the three-month long semester abroad. As they enjoyed the meal, the students reminisced about their favorite moments in Barcelona, exchanging stories with fellow students and staff. The event served as a warm welcome back to the academic community for these returning adventurers.

Zaid Ghori, Interim Dean of Global Learning Programs and Services (GLPS) Division and Dr. Jeremy Ball, the program faculty leader, attended the event and greeted the students to welcome them back to the campus. Dr. Alice Yang, the Acting Director of Special International Programs, discussed reverse culture shock with the students and shared intercultural development strategies for re-adjustment. The students were also offered some resources for career connection with study abroad and the 2024 SMCCCD Global Internship opportunities.

The SMCCCD Study Abroad Office remains committed to facilitating transformative international experiences for students, fostering a global perspective within the college community. As one cohort returns, another eagerly prepares to embark on their own journey, symbolizing the continuous cycle of global education at SMCCCD.

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 lead abroad opportunities, community travel for lifelong learners, visiting international faculty presenters, and student scholarship opportunities; please contact Kelly Li or Dr. Alice Yang at or by calling 650-738-7098. You can also learn more by visiting the SMCCD Study Abroad Facebook page or Instagram page @smcccd_study_abroad.

Article by Kelly Li

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