Dance Classes & Cheek Kisses: Experiencing Culture While Studying Abroad

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 […]

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What Can I Eat While I’m Abroad?

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 […]

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Futbol Gameplay

Me, a Fútbol Fan?

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, […]

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Quinn Posing in front of two Hedges in the shape of BA in front of the Obelisk

My Study Abroad Story

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 […]

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Harry Potter Class Brings Fantasy to Reality

BY Margaret Distefano, ’19 // professional writing

Margaret DiStefanoPart 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.

 

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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

“Remember, guys, don’t be like tomato”

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.

The end result of my cooking class's final exam.

The end result of my cooking class’s final exam.

*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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How to Blend in with the Locals: Firenze Edition

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.

Italian Vespa

Watch out for bicycles and mopeds

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?”)

Cappuccino

NO cappuccino after noon

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

Champlain Global Partner: Landing in Florence

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.

Florence City ViewNot 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

Why Study Abroad and Exchange are Key to a Brighter Future

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.

IIE’s Generation Study Abroad meeting at the CIEE Annual Conference in Los Angeles

Champlain Abroad
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Family Dinner on the Other Side of the World

By: Connor Glasset, Secondary Education Major/Global Studies Minor, Champlain College

Kia ora!

The Champlain College family stretches far and wide. This is especially true here in Auckland. Two members of the Board of Trustees, either past or present, live in New Zealand part time throughout the year with their spouses.

Emily Morrow was a Trustee in the past. Now, she and her husband, Paul, live in Devonport, just across the harbor from Auckland. Both Emily and Paul wanted all of the Champlain Abroad Students to feel at home in Auckland and very graciously invited us over for a family style dinner.

Seth, Kate, Emmalee and I hitched a ride to the Morrow’s with Jessica Tweed. Jess is a current AUT student who will be studying at Champlain in the Fall Semester of 2016. The others caught the 4:30 ferry and were picked up at the dock by Emily. We all gathered in one of the sitting rooms in the Morrow’s quaint bungalow for a before dinner discussion. Emily posed a few questions to us to check in on how we were doing, how we were finding Auckland, and how well we were adjusting to life in New Zealand. We went around the room and shared our experiences, instantly feeling like we were home and talking with our relatives.

Emily and Paul left us to our own devices for a few minutes while they put the finishing touches on the delicious smelling dinner that scented the home, welcoming us from the minute we arrived. Then, it was time to eat. They pulled out all the stops; no small task, considering they were feeding 10 college students who hadn’t eaten much all day in anticipation of a good home-cooked meal. There was roast chicken and gravy, rice, apricot chutney and salad when the service began. Before long there was nothing more than a counter full of dirty dishes. But the meal didn’t stop there.  For dessert, Emily and Paul offered us freshly made quince compote, out of the fruit harvested from a neighbor’s tree, with whipped cream. When I was sure there couldn’t be anymore, Emily brought out two massive bars of Whittaker’s Chocolate to accompany the dessert. Needless to say, they didn’t last long!

After dinner, we reconvened in the same cozy sitting room and talked as we did before, only this time we all had full bellies. We must have chatted for another hour before we realized that we had to leave to catch the 8:15 ferry back to Auckland.

For even the most adventurous of people, traveling halfway across the world and living more or less on your own for five months can be a little intimidating. However, Champlain Study Abroad Students to Auckland can find solace in knowing that they have people here that care about them and are only ever a phone call away.

Thank you for that, Emily and Paul, we all sincerely appreciate it. We can’t wait to meet up in Vermont, in September, for the next ‘family’ dinner.  

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