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.





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”


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


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?”)


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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Champlain Abroad goes Tongariro Alpine Crossing

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

Kia ora!

Champlain Abroad Students in front of the Emerald Pools. L to R: (back) Meghan, Alexa, Connor, Ali,Seth, Kate Kohl (front) Sarah, Emmalee

On the second weekend in April, the whole Champlain Abroad crew went on a road trip.  The journey began at 6pm outside WSA, when we loaded up the massive twelve-person van that we rented.  Seriously, the thing was a small bus. The first leg of the journey was a 5 ½ hour car ride to the south. Kohl volunteered to take the wheel from our starting point in Auckland all the way to our destination in Tongariro. We only stopped once along the way, in Hamilton, to refuel, eat, and pick up groceries for the next day’s meal.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

AUSM lodge and the spaceship we rented for the weekend.

We arrived in Tongariro a little before midnight.  Another perk of attending AUT is that they have a small lodge, big enough for twelve people, in Tongariro. AUSM, the school’s student union, owns the property and rents it out by the weekend to students at little to no cost. Since we filled almost all of the beds, we each paid $15 a night! The lodge was open plan with one huge space for the combined living/dining/kitchen areas, complete with a wood-burning stove. Off of the central space were three bedrooms with varying numbers of bunkbeds in each and an attached bathroom.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

On Saturday, we were all up and out of the lodge in time to catch the 8am shuttle to the Tongariro National Park. The whole purpose of the trip was to attempt the 12 mile long Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks”. We arrived onsite at half past eight and immediately took to the trail. The first two miles or so was an easy walk through a relatively flat and barren igneous rock-filled field at the foot of Mt. Tongariro. We paused for a break at the last bathroom station on the up-hill side of the mountain before continuing on our way.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Starting the hike!

Playtime was over. The next four or five miles were intense. The mountain rose into the clouds with no warning and the trail began to zigzag back and forth across the shear, rocky face. At this point, the path was more of a staircase. Each step was probably a good 18 inches high; luckily for me, I was given the gift of ungodly long legs. Safe to say the quads and the hammies got a nice workout. As everyone went at their own pace, we got spread out a few times on the ascent. We all met back up at the leveling off point where the trail diverged and the choice had to be made to continue on the same path or to do the Mt. Ngauruhoe Summit Trail. We all really wanted to do the Mt. Ngauruhoe trail because the mountain was made famous in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy as Mt. Doom. However, it was an extra three hour round trip hike and we were on a timetable because the shuttle back home was meant to pick us up at 4:30pm at the end of the trail. Also, our shuttle driver had cautioned us to not attempt the hike if it was cloudy. Apparently, that trail was much more dangerous and much easier to become lost on. By the time we had reached the trailhead it was nothing but clouds in the sky; we had trouble seeing more than 20 feet in front of us. We decided to save that hike for another, better weather day. We turned left at the fork and went on our way.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

The stairs leading up to the stairs that lead to…more stairs.

The next leg of the hike was certainly not for people with a fear of heights or those
without a strong, adventurous spirit. The next mile or so was much more steep and there were no stairs. As we walked, the rocks shifted below our feet and sent smaller ones tumbling down the mountainside. The trail now was only a few feet wide and on other side of it, the mountain dropped off rather sharply. At one point, there was a chain bolted into the side of the mountain to hold on to as we climbed. At last, we had made it. We sat beside a boulder, to shield ourselves as best we could from the frigid, dew-heavy air that ripped over the crest of the mountain, and we ate. Continue reading

Waiheke Food and Wine Festival

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

Kia ora!

April 2nd was a glorious day. It’s easy to wake up and get moving when you have a full day of wine tasting and eating ahead of you. With that being said, I still managed to sleep in. Luckily, the ferry ride that I had pre-booked for the Waiheke Food and Wine Festival was scheduled to leave at 12:30pm.  I meet up with Ali Sousa and Meghan Richards in the WSA lounge and we made our way down to the ferry and later on to the festival together.

Riding on the top of the ferry, we enjoyed the warmth of the sun as we crossed the harbor on the 40 minute ride to Waiheke Island.  When we stepped off the ferry, we walked on to a waiting shuttle and headed towards the Te Motu vineyard where the event was being held.

As we walked through the front gates we flashed our IDs and got our 18+ wristbands. Also included in the price of admission was an engraved wine glass and a voucher for a free wine tasting at one of the vendor booths. My free voucher was for one glass of wine from the Wild on Waiheke booth.

Wine tasting at the Waiheke Food and Wine Festival

Meghan, Ali and I tasting our free glasses of wine!

Prices varied from booth to booth so naturally we wandered around and scouted them all out before getting in line for our firsts tastings.  Tastings ranged from $2-$4 dollars with full glasses going anywhere from $7-$13.  After a couple of tastings each we decided to enjoy the other facet of the festival, the gourmet food.   Continue reading

Interning in New Zealand

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

Kia ora!

One of the many possibilities available to Champlain Abroad students at AUT is the opportunity for an internship. There are a few ways to go about gaining this valuable international experience. One possible avenue is through the Study Abroad Cooperative Education paper. This is a course that counts for half the credits needed in a semester because it is internship intensive.  Over the semester, you agree to intern for a minimum of 150 hours as well as create an internship portfolio.  Fellow Champlain student Emmalee Osborne and I are enrolled in this paper. Another option would be to do a less intense internship while still taking a full load of classes. Or, as Ali Sousa is doing, you can work out a happy medium, a hybrid of sorts, granted you get Champlain and AUT approval.

Regardless of what you choose, InternEx will set up your internship for you. InternEx is a third party internship fixer working in Canada and New Zealand. AUT works closely with InternEx to help find its international students meaningful internships.


Let’s hear a little bit about the types of internships that Champlain students have this semester.

connor glassett id photo


Connor Glassett                            

Secondary Education in English Major

Global Studies Minor



What is your internship?

My internship is at Murrays Bay Intermediate School. Murrays Bay Intermediate School educates children in years 7 and 8, generally between the ages of 11 and 13. Murrays Bay Intermediate is located in an affluent neighborhood; outside of academics the school offers a wide array of opportunities to students including sports, band and orchestra, various clubs, etc.

What types of things are you doing at your placement?

I have been placed in the International House. The International House provides English language support to international students both homestay and permanent residents alike. The majority of the students I work with are in their year 7. The whole of the international students are divided into five groups, which are classified by ability and range from no English skills to at grade level proficiency. I work with the lower three of the five groups. The group with which I do the most teaching is Group Two and they meet every Wednesday and Friday. Outside of the classroom, I am also coaching a year 7 boys basketball team.

Where is your placement and how do you get there?

My placement is in Murrays Bay, on the North Shore. It takes me about an hour by bus to get from my housing to the school. I make the round trip three times a week, Wednesday through Friday.

How does your placement reflect what you have been learning at school? How well does it apply to what you want to do in the future?

This internship is my longest student teaching placement to date. Although I am not an English Language Learner focused teacher, it is offering me heaps of experience. MBIS is also a really interesting place to be because of the level to which technology is integrated into the teaching and learning process. Lastly, teaching at a school in New Zealand allows me to learn how the education system differs from the US. I have no doubt that the things I am observing and learning from teaching my own lessons at MBIS will change my own personal teaching pedagogy.

Would you recommend having an internship in New Zealand to future Champlain Abroad students?

I would absolutely recommend that all study abroad students find internships regardless of the country that they are in. International experience is extremely useful in contributing to your own learning and in return it makes you more marketable to future employers. Not to mention, the best way to get to know a place, a people, and a culture is to be immersed in it. What better a way to do that than to work side by side with the people are from the country you are studying abroad in. Continue reading