I think that volunteer work is a great way to give back to the community, but I haven’t had time to do any since I started college. So, when my academic advisor in Buenos Aires shared a list of potential volunteer opportunities, I jumped at the chance to get involved. One opportunity that stuck out […]Continue reading
I’ve been dancing since I was four years old, and it’s become so ingrained in my life I can’t imagine giving it up. At Champlain, I’m a member of the Champlain College Dance Team, and when I left to study abroad, I knew I needed to find a way to continue dancing, even if only […]Continue reading
One of my biggest fears about studying abroad was if I was going to be able to find food that I could eat, especially in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I am currently studying. You see, I’m a lactose intolerant vegetarian who is studying abroad in a country that’s known for its meat industry. I feel […]Continue reading
Prior to studying abroad in Argentina, I would never be found voluntarily attending a soccer game. But, attending a fútbol match is on the list of things I heard you ought to do when studying abroad in Argentina, and I figured when am I going to get another chance to do this? On September 5, […]Continue reading
Hi, I’m Quinn. I’m a junior Professional Writing major. I’m currently studying abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and wanted to share a bit of my study abroad story with you. Part of what drew me to Champlain was its focus on global citizenship. I’ve always wanted to travel and not just see other cultures but […]Continue reading
BY Margaret Distefano, ’19 // professional writing
Part of Champlain’s unique academic experience centers around a Core curriculum instead of “general education” classes. The Core promotes the ability to express oneself intellectually— through four years of discussion-based classes that focus on the inner self, the Western tradition, global themes, and then a final Capstone connecting all three years. Travel courses are spread throughout second and third year Core classes, so students can take a travel course as early as their third semester at Champlain. The travel component not only provides another dimension to Core classes, but also works as a miniature study abroad experience for students who may not be able to study abroad for a full semester. For others, it confirms their desire to study abroad; for me, I’ve been toying around with studying abroad in London, and going with a travel course to the United Kingdom solidified my desire to try to study abroad in London in the Spring 2018 semester.
All of the Core travel courses highlight and add depth to the subject of the class—heroines and heroes, religion, history, and cultural themes. I went on a trip to the United Kingdom with a “Heroines & Heroes: Harry Potter” travel class, where we visited places all over England and Scotland that were related to Harry Potter film sites and landmarks. It was interesting because Hogwarts, the central location of the series, is not a real place. So unlike the other travel courses, we had the challenge of visiting fictional places. Continue reading
BY DESIREE CARPENTER, CREATIVE MEDIA’18, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE
One of the fun parts about studying abroad through Champlain College is that, during junior year, any classes about another culture can count towards the 6 required credits of COR 330. For me, Italian Language was a required class at Lorenzo de’Medici Italian International Institute (the school I studied at in Florence), which automatically took care of 3 credits. The most Italian I had ever heard was when I was growing up and my dad would play opera through the house in the morning as I was got ready for school, so I was put in the most basic Italian language course they offered. It actually turned out to be surprisingly helpful while learning my way around the city, and I barely needed to worry about studying when I was out practicing the language every day.
For the rest of my core credits that semester, I took a class on modern Italian cooking. Who wouldn’t want to study a different culture by studying its food? In Current Trends in Italian Cuisine, we modernized classic Italian dishes to make them healthier and incorporate modern ingredients. We studied, cooked, and ate (yes, you get to eat every dish you make at the end of class) meat*, pasta, and even a few desserts.
One aspect of the class that was both amusing and a bit challenging was getting around the language barrier between a class full of English-speaking study abroad students, and our professor Alfonso. Alfonso was a moderately well-known professional chef in the area, and had previously worked at 1-, 2-, and 3-star Michelin restaurants. However, his grasp on the English language was nowhere near as strong as his cooking skills. Oftentimes he would make up his own idioms that fell short of making sense in either English or Italian.
One of my favorite examples of this is from the day that we prepared pasta al pomodoro in bianco, where we learned to make “roses” out of tomato peels to top our dish. At one point, while peeling and chopping tomatoes, Alfonso stopped and set down his knife. He picked up an untouched tomato and gave us all advice that I’ll never forget, though probably for the wrong reasons: “Remember, guys, don’t be like tomato.” He then continued chopping tomatoes and explaining the recipe as if nothing was said. I almost regret not asking him for clarification, but I think that nugget of wisdom might actually be best left unexplained.
*Fun fact: Tuscany is the only region of Italy that is obsessed with red meat more than fish. An iconic Florentine dish is the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, a T-bone steak that weighs over a kilogram!
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BY DESIREE CARPENTER, CREATIVE MEDIA’18, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE
1. Accept that, for the first couple of weeks, you’ll be too confused and fascinated by everything around you to actually blend in. You’re in an incredible place for the next few months. Give yourself the first couple of weeks to be touristy and take everything in.
2. Dress in clothes that you feel are at least moderately stylish. This is probably equivalent to the bare minimum of acceptable in Italy. When in doubt, wear as much black as possible. You can always spot study abroad students in the city when it’s warm by looking for the people decked out in T-shirts, basketball shorts, and tennis shoes.
3. Watch out for bicycles and mopeds. There were several streets I assumed were only for pedestrians until a Vespa came barreling down at high speed, missing people by mere inches. Honestly, though, the bicycles are scarier. They expect you to move out of their way and won’t go around, so always listen for the sound of those little bike bells nearby.
4. When going into any place of business, if an employee greets you, greet them back before you begin talking/ordering/trying to make a purchase. If you don’t say hi, you might be seen as rude and possibly even get worse service. It’s also much more polite if you can ask (in Italian) if someone speaks English, rather than immediately assuming that they do. (For those curious, the standard way to ask is, “Ciao, parli inglese?”)
5. Don’t order a cappuccino after noon, and especially not after lunch. Italians consider a cappuccino to be a heavy, dense drink, so it’s essentially a breakfast replacement. If you want a real Italian breakfast, go to a coffee bar, order a cappuccino and a cornetto (the Italian version of a croissant, often with different kinds of fruit or cream fillings), and eat it standing at the bar.
6. Buy groceries to last you a few days at a time, rather than a few weeks. There’s a very high chance of having a fresh market and/or a grocery store within walking distance of wherever you live, so it won’t be out of the way. Grocery shopping for weeks at a time isn’t a “normal” practice in Italy, so you’ll probably get some strange looks if you do. However, if you’re taking a bus to outside the city to get cheaper groceries, it’s worth ignoring the odd looks and stocking up to save money. Continue reading
BY desiree carpenter, creative media’18, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE
After over 16 hours straight of travel time, I arrived a little before noon local time in Florence, Italy for the fall 2016 semester. It was my first time out of North America, and I only knew one of the two other Champlain Abroad students that would be in the same country as me for the semester. A mixture of sheer excitement and sheer terror smothered my exhaustion as I collected my checked bags. I let out a sigh of relief when I walked towards the airport exit and was met by a group of college-aged kids and a couple of people holding signs that read “API.” Academic Programs International, the Champlain Global Partner and third-party program I used, had arranged to meet new arrivals at the airport and use a massive tour bus to shuttle us all to the hotel we were staying at for the night.
Not all of our apartments were fully ready yet, so they decided to put us in a surprisingly nice local hotel. I had lucked out and been given my own room in the flat (for no extra charge!), so I was put in a hotel room with the other girl in my apartment with a private room. As excited as both of us were to finally be in Florence, we both fell into immediate impromptu naps in the few hours before meeting up with everyone for dinner.
After waking from the much-needed nap and taking full advantage of having shower access again, I met up with the other API students to walk to where our arrival celebration dinner was being held. We traveled to a different hotel, climbed the several flights of stairs to the roof and were greeted by tons of plants forming a covering over a long, buffet-style dinner setup and several round and rectangular white tables scattered across the roof. Each table offered bottles of both sparkling and still water–one of the first things that I learned about Italian restaurant culture: always clarify how bubbly you want your water. All of us spent the evening eating and mingling with other students and struggling to keep up with all the new names. When the dinner ended, I joined a group of a dozen or so others going out to celebrate actually making it this far. Continue reading
Written by Noah Goldblatt, Director of Study Abroad, Champlain College
This blog post was inspired by the legacy of Connor Glasset. May he continue to impact the world in a positive way.
Otherness and difference are challenging to many Americans. From the perspective of Social Psychology, we have built in mechanisms to understand the world based on our own cultural norms and traditions. With that, using our home culture as a yardstick to measure others may even be hardwired into our consciousness. Study abroad and exchange opportunities allow both domestic and foreign students to experience culture from a completely new perspective thus breaking down assumptions and helping to understand the world in a new light. Study abroad and exchange create an environment where transformation of the heart and mind is possible.
International education provides a platform for students to develop their cross-cultural understanding and learn practical international skills that will help provide tools for success in the 21st century economy. The globe has become increasingly interdependent on many levels, and shutting America off from the world will not prove a panacea for prosperity.
For several decades, American foreign policy has welcomed cultural exchange even with countries that are perceived as enemies. Sharing our own passions and values with those who do not share our ideology allows for a space of understanding and growth. American students who study abroad carry home a new framework in which to view the world. Exchange students who spend time in the US can bring their countries a story of America that is not prevalent in their local media outlets. As international educators, we are on the front lines of facilitating both inbound and outbound cultural exchange. Now, more than ever, it feels like we need to promote international education as a pathway to a better and more inclusive future for all.
Champlain College was just ranked #12 in the country for percentage of students studying abroad in the Open Doors Report released by the Institute of International Education (IIE). While attending the November 2016 CIEE Annual Conference in Los Angeles, CA this week, it became clear that our current political climate is an opportunity to share what we do as international educators.