Tag Archives: Friendships

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

Sea swimming, Skylines, and Sunburn

By: Connor Glasset, Secondary Education Major, Champlain College

A seagull profits from low tide, searching for lunch. Captured by Ali Sousa

A seagull profits from low tide, searching for lunch.
Captured by Ali Sousa

Kia ora!

For our first full weekend together in Auckland, the Champlain Abroad students banded together to pass the day bronzing on the beach. We started out early, catching the 10:30 ferry at the harbor at the bottom of Queen Street, direction Devonport.

After the short 12 minute long ferry ride across the harbor we arrived at the Devonport dock. We meandered along the coast for two kilometers before reaching our sandy destination. In almost perfect unison we kicked off our flip-flops and unfolded our towels. Unfortunately, for the sake of swimming, when we arrived it was low tide. The 70 degree water was only ankle deep allowing us to wander out into the sea a good quarter mile before the waves began to break, wetting us above the waist. We floated, splashed and considered ourselves lucky to be enjoying the summer sun and warm water while our friends back in Burlington were most likely in class wrapped up in multiple layers. As we made our way back to shore we couldn’t help but kick up dozens of sand dollars-both living and dead. Over the next few hours we were in and out of the salty water, spread out soaking up the sun, scouring the shore for sea glass, and fantasizing about owning the cookie cutter bungalows behind us. Continue reading