There and Back Again
New Experiences. New Adventures. New Environment. Across the Northern Border, Surrounded By Mountains and Sea, Honors Students Tap Into Vancouver’s Culture and Energy.
By Kenna Caprio
Photos by Bill Cardoni
Picture snowcapped mountains in the distance. Stand atop a snowy plaza and park. Smell the soil of the rainforest. Look down on the city and the gorges. Open an umbrella to stave off the downpour.
Imagine doing all that, but never venturing far from downtown Vancouver. Seven Florham Campus honors students can, because they did it all and more.
“The only way to reap the benefits of studying abroad is to be willing to
try, to understand and to learn anything,” says sophomore biology major Elizabeth Marzolla.
Students in the University Honors Program traveled to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, for short-term study abroad over winter break. The trip — connected to the University Core class Cross-Cultural Perspectives — focused on academic seminars and cultural excursions. The group connected with indigenous First Nations culture, at the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre. They roamed Yaletown, Granville Island, Chinatown and Stanley Park, and toured Nitobe Memorial Garden. They explored Olympic Park in Whistler and saw the Olympic rings and slopes from the 2010 Winter Olympics. They crossed the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park — 450 feet across and 230 feet up — and traversed cliffwalks.
“More than anything, I want a trip like this to infect students with the travel bug and to make them more curious about the world,” says April Patrick, lecturer of literature and director of the University Honors Program at Florham. She coordinated and co-chaperoned the trip and plans to offer it again next year.
In the meantime, the students reminisce about the trip and the experience every time they look at their souvenirs —
The First Nations dream catcher
Shaw purchased incorporates
crystals, feathers and amethyst
gems. She bought one for her
Shaw hiked in Whistler, surrounded by mountains. When the clouds parted and the sun streamed through, she just had to FaceTime her dad. “It’s his dream destination!”
“Knowing that there are other
ways of life and seeing how
other people live makes you more connected to the world.”
Miles loves his souvenir shirt.
“I’m a big fan of Canada.” He’s been to Québec City, Montréal, Niagara Falls, Toronto and the Yukon.
“Not everybody lives like a
‘typical’ American. It’s really cool and eye-opening to see how
small we are in the grand scheme. Now I understand other people’s perspectives more.”
On his travel agenda: Germany,
Japan and Mexico. He’s already
visited the United Kingdom,
Italy, France, the Bahamas
and the Dominican Republic.
On taking her first flight:
“I understand the science be-
hind the plane, but it’s still
amazing that it actually flies.”
“I’m not one for knickknacks.”
Instead, Dettling prizes her
photos. “I don’t know the next
time I’ll be on a flight, so
to get the clouds from that
angle was really cool.”
Going into the trip, “I didn’t know anybody except Dr. Patrick. We all got to talking and became friendly. It opened me up.”
Since going to Paris in high
school, Parks has collected
postcards. Her favorites from
Vancouver show the skyline,
city and mountains.
“My Wroxton sweatshirt is
really comfy. I wear it all the
time. Once I thought I lost
it, and was upset for weeks.”
Luckily, it turned up.
“Have a general idea of
what you want to do, but don’t
set a schedule. Leave time
to explore and wander.”
“I bought the umbrella in a pinch.” Her travel advice: “Pack layers. Bring small creature comforts. I always bring a journal.”
At the First Nations cultural
center, “We made bracelets out
of red cedar trees. We soaked
the bark, twisted it and braided
it.” Polidoro wears hers often.
“It matches everything!”
“Souvenirs take you back to certain memories, something
you wouldn’t remember
without that cherished thing.
It’s powerful time travel.”