Join us for a month of cultural and intellectual exploration in three of Europe’s most evocative and historic cities on this pre college summer program for high school students in Oxford, Paris, and Florence. Choose two fun, field-based seminars as your focus. Build a photography or design portfolio, learn about the complexities of European integration, hone your creative writing skills, and much more! Spend three days in Paris, and take day trips to the vibrant cities of London, Venice, and Rome, as well as the seaside villages of Cinque Terre.
- June 29, 2013 - July 26, 2013
- Students completing grades 9-12
- Pre-College Enrichment
- Typical Group:
- 50-70 Students, 8-12 Staff
- 4 week(s)
Experience university life at Oxford and the cultural treasures of Italy from our Renaissance-era villa in the hills of Tuscany, and immerse yourself in the rich history and modern life of Europe. Emerge from your summer with a new appreciation of the cultures you have explored, and the desire to deepen your knowledge of Europe’s past and present. This pre-college enrichment program in Oxford and Tuscany gives motivated and intellectually curious high school students the opportunity to see Europe in ways unavailable to tourists. It helps them prepare for college with in-depth, hands-on seminars on a number of fascinating topics taught by our staff of dynamic, highly qualified leaders.
The rich historical, architectural, and cultural centers of Oxford, Paris, and Florence are ideal settings for our traveling seminars. Chose a major and a minor seminar to follow throughout the program. Seminars are limited to twelve students or fewer to encourage thoughtful discussion and hands-on, field-based learning. Join your instructor and fellow participants to head out into the field. Take advantage of some of the world’s finest art collections, architectural and archeological treasures, and historical monuments and museums to explore topics of special interest to you. You might find yourself sketching the Radcliffe Camera in Oxford, discussing social responsibility with protesters in Parliament Square, joining in a critique of your short story draft at a Parisian café, following in the footsteps of Michelangelo and the Medicis to see the artistic and architectural wonders of Florence, or rehearsing a scene from Romeo and Juliet in an atmospheric Italian courtyard.
Afternoons, Evenings, and Excursions: Afternoons are a time to relax, have fun, and explore your surroundings in ways that go beyond what you are studying in your courses. Activities may include a Shakespeare comedy in an Oxford park, a pick-up game of soccer or frisbee, an opera in the ancient amphitheater at Fiesole, a punting trip on the Cherwell River, or a discussion of current events at a traditional tea house.
The entire group gathers for a daily Community Meeting before dinner. After dinner, venture out again in the company of your instructors to experience the nightlife of Oxford, Paris, and Florence. In addition to concerts, comedy shows, movie nights, sports games, and theatre and dance performances, evening “coffeehouses” showcase the unique musical, artistic, and comedic talents of both students and staff.
Throughout the month, you have the opportunity to visit an even greater range of Europe’s incredible historic and cultural landmarks. While day trips vary from year to year, excursions may include a day exploring the ancient monuments of Rome or discovering the winding canals of Venice by gondola, a visit to London, Stonehenge, or the Aquae Sulis of Bath, biking in the Cotswolds, or trekking in Cinque Terre.
“Ilan very much enjoyed the program and gained a broader and deeper appreciation for art history and architecture (his two courses). All of the trips to the museums were highlights for him, and he loved the camaraderie of the small seminar groups. We were impressed with the choices and options for excursions, and the time and effort that went into planning all of the additional activities. Thank you!”
- Mark and Iris Selinger, Scarsdale, NY
Accommodations: For two weeks, stay in single rooms on the beautiful campus of St. Hilda’s College at Oxford University, ideally situated on the banks of the Cherwell River in the center of Oxford. From this base, embark on numerous field trips to explore the awe-inspiring sights of this magnificent English city. While in Paris, stay at a student residence on a quiet street in the center of the trendy Marais District. Rooms here are dormitory style, with sinks and showers in the rooms and shared toilets on the hall. Our residence has the unusual Parisian luxury of a quiet courtyard and garden, and is within walking distance of the Latin Quarter, Notre-Dame, the Louvre, the Pompidou Center, and the Musée d’Orsay. In Italy, our campus is a beautiful 16th century villa perched high on a hill in the small town of San Domenico, just outside of Florence. Rooms here are singles and doubles. The villa is just a short walk or bus ride from the beautiful hilltop village of Fiesole and the vibrant renaissance city of Florence.
Final Presentation: The program culminates with a final day of presentations and performances, during which each seminar group showcases its accomplishments for the entire Excel community. Debut your photography portfolio or display your artwork at an open gallery, perform adapted works of Shakespearean theatre, conduct an architectural tour of the city, or hold a poetry reading of your original work.
- Explore the winding canals of Venice by gondola, or discover the historic Italian capital of Rome.
- Bike through the Cotswolds, or try punting on the Cherwell River.
- Chat with a local business owner about the benefits and challenges of European integration.
- Sketch the carnival scene beneath the Grande Roue of Paris.
- Interview locals in Italian to find out where the best gelato in Florence is made.
- Sample the fresh seafood of coastal villages in Cinque Terre.
- Attend a Royal Shakespeare Company performance in Stratford-upon-Avon.
- Discover a new favorite artist at the Tate, the Louvre, or the Uffizi Gallery.
What to Expect
You should come to the program with an open mind, excited about new experiences, and prepared to think critically and creatively while engaging in thoughtful discussion during your seminars. You should be enthusiastic about participating fully in a schedule packed with intellectual and physical activity, and be willing to challenge yourself to make the most of your time in Europe. Most of the day is filled with structured activities, but there are some opportunities to explore your surroundings and make your own discoveries. We expect you to behave in a mature and productive way at all times. Rules that provide a safe and structured environment, set curfews, and prohibit the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco are in place and enforced.
At Putney we take pride in our reputation for careful, thorough planning and attention to detail. The descriptions of our high school summer programs are based on our experiences in previous summers and our plans for this summer. It is inevitable that some things described here will not happen exactly as presented. To get the most out of the Putney experience, participants need to be flexible in responding to unforeseen situations, and creative in taking advantage of unexpected opportunities. We expect Putney participants to share responsibility for the success of their experience.
Putney organizes escorted international flights. Please consult us for fares.
Learn about last year’s program by reading the 2012 Pre-College Enrichment in Europe Blog.
This program begins and ends at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Departure • Meet your Excel flight escort and the rest of your group at JFK Airport, and depart together for London, England.
Oxford • Upon arrival in London, board a chartered bus for St. Hilda’s College in Oxford, where we spend the first two weeks of the program. Settle in to campus life, and begin to take advantage of Oxford’s extraordinary range of opportunities for learning and fun through your field–based seminars and many afternoon and evening cultural activities. Take day trips to London, Bath, Stonehenge, and Stratford-upon-Avon.
Paris • From Oxford, we travel by train to Paris through the channel tunnel for a three day interlude en route to Florence. Explore the monuments, museums, markets, and cafés; and discover the winding streets and stately boulevards of the Latin Quarter, the Left Bank, Île de la Cité, Montmartre, and other neighborhoods. We explore Paris mostly in small groups through the lens of our seminar focuses. Visit Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay, and more.
“Alex found Excel to be a wonderful learning experience. The courses were excellent; it was truly beneficial to be able to go out into the main cities on the itinerary, but to explore the surrounding towns and cities was a tremendous plus! She was able to experience new cultures, customs, and traditions as well as meet many new people. She gained an increase in global awareness, a love of other cultures and a new level of maturity, not to mention a lot of new friends! ”
- Suzanne and Jeffrey Barrow, Newton, MA
Florence • Bid au revoir to Paris and board a train bound for Italy. Stay for twelve days in a Tuscan villa located in the hills just outside of Florence. Visit the Duomo, the Piazza della Signoria, the Uffizi Gallery, the Medici Chapel, and the Pitti Palace. Take day trips to Venice or Rome, hike to the brightly painted seaside villages of Cinque Terre, and explore the medieval cities of Pisa and Siena. Throughout this time, continue with your seminars and prepare for your final presentations.
Return • Accompanied by an Excel flight escort, fly with the group from Milan’s Malpensa Airport back to New York, and continue to your final destination.
This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.
Background • From the City of Dreaming Spires to the Cradle of the Renaissance, Oxford, Paris, and Florence are unparalleled in cultural richness and scholarly prestige. Western art, literature, architecture, science, and politics use as essential reference points the extraordinary historical events and cultural treasures of these cities, which offer insight into the foundations of our society. Today, Oxford, Paris, and Florence remain crossroads of culture and wellsprings of innovation and forward thinking, and are celebrated for their vibrant cosmopolitan energy and dynamic presence in contemporary Europe.
Population • The city of Oxford is small, yet surprisingly diverse, with many of its 150,000 residents connected to the renowned University. In Italy, we are based in a small town, population ~15,000, situated in the Tuscan hills, just outside of Florence, population ~ 400,000.
Language • After just one week in Britain, you may begin to wonder what it means to say that English is your mother tongue. Over 20 recognized dialects and many more accents fill the streets of England. Likewise, Italy is home to as many as 30 regional dialects of the Italian language, though contemporary Italian is most influenced by the Tuscan dialect.
“I expected to make new friends, see interesting places, and learn from my classes, and I did all of those things and more! This trip was one of the most fun experiences of my life! I gained a better understanding of the world outside of America, and really enjoyed my courses (International Relations and History of World War II). My teacher, Dan, was fun and engaging, and took us to great places like Versailles, Winston Churchill’s bunker, and the Vatican. I especially enjoyed our trip to the Liberal Democrats in London for my International Relations class.”
- Grant Michl, Dexter School, Weston, MA
Climate • Summer brings out the best of England’s lush countryside and beautifully maintained gardens and hedgerows. Average temperatures in Oxford are in the high 60′s to low 70′s, but days can be as warm as the mid 80′s. You can expect a healthy dose of rain and fog—don’t forget to bring a sweater and a lightweight raincoat. During the month of July in Tuscany, the term “sun-drenched” is no overstatement. Here, there are 10 hours of sunshine each day and temperatures generally range from the mid 80′s to the mid 90′s.
Cuisine • English cuisine doesn’t enjoy the same reputation as that of mainland Europe; nonetheless, it is hearty and filling. The food only gets better as we travel south to France and Italy! While in Paris, we take advantage of the culinary scene to enjoy croissants, pastries, and haute cuisine dinners. In Italy, prepare yourself for homemade pastas, pizzas and gelatos. Vegetarian and vegan food is readily available in all three places.
Currency • The currency of England is the British Pound Sterling (£). In 2002, Italy and France converted to the Euro from the Italian Lira and the French Franc, respectively. An ATM card is the best way to access money while in Europe.
Voltage • England, France, and Italy all use 230V/50Hz current. England uses type G plugs (three rectangular pins arranged in a triangle), while France and Italy use both type C plugs (two round pins) and type L plugs (three round pins in a row). You should bring a universal plug adapter, and may need a voltage converter to run some US electronics.
How To Apply
STEP 1: LOG ON.
STEP 2: HOLD A SPACE IN THE PROGRAM.
You can hold a space in a program by completing the Online Application Form, submitting a signed Agreement Form, and providing the $700 Application Deposit by Mastercard, Visa, or Discover Card through our secure online system or by sending a check to our office. Our admissions staff is also available to take credit card information over the phone. We will hold a space in a program for a reasonable time, pending completion of the full application process. See Step 3.
After March 15, we will hold a space temporarily as above, but we must receive full payment by check or wire transfer within three days to continue to hold a space in the program.
STEP 3: COMPLETE THE APPLICATION PROCESS.
Before we can make a final admissions decision, an application must be complete. In addition to the Application Form and Application Deposit described above, a complete application includes:
- Applicant Statement - Attach a statement explaining why you would like to join a Putney program and what you feel you can contribute to it. Your application cannot be processed without this statement. Approximately 150–300 words is sufficient. Global Action applicants’ statements must be 300-500 words addressing these questions, and detailing their interest and/or experience in the country and issues on which they wish to focus.
- Two Teacher Reference Forms
These documents are available as part of our Online Application. We review a completed application within a few days, and notify families of our admissions decision by e-mail.