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
Fairleigh Dickinson University senior Samantha Polidoro raises her arms overhead as if to embrace the Vancouver mountains and scenery surrounding her. (Photo courtesy of Polidoro)

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 —

Cameron Shaw shows off the dream catcher she bought in Canada.

Cameron Shaw

Big Dreams
The First Nations dream catcher 
Shaw purchased incorporates
 crystals, feathers and amethyst 
gems. She bought one for her 
roommate, too.

Happy Place
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!”

Going Abroad
“Knowing that there are other 
ways of life and seeing how 
other people live makes you more connected to the world.”

Connor Miles tries on his Canada shirt.

Connor Miles

Canada, Eh?
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.

Gaining Perspective
“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.”

Open Road
On his travel agenda: Germany, 
Japan and Mexico. He’s already 
visited the United Kingdom,
 Italy, France, the Bahamas 
and the Dominican Republic.

Mylan Dettling holds up her phone, revealing a photo of the clouds and sky.

Mylan Dettling

Flying High
On taking her first flight: 
“I understand the science be-
hind the plane, but it’s still 
amazing that it actually flies.”

Picture Perfect
“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.”

Fast Friends
Going into the trip, “I didn’t know anybody except Dr. Patrick. We all got to talking and became friendly. It opened me up.”

Sarah Parks flips her Vancouver postcards up into the air.

Sarah Parks

Air Mail
Since going to Paris in high 
school, Parks has collected 
postcards. Her favorites from 
Vancouver show the skyline, 
city and mountains.

Prized Possession
“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.

Embrace Wanderlust
“Have a general idea of 
what you want to do, but don’t 
set a schedule. Leave time
 to explore and wander.”

Samantha Polidoro takes a step, arms outstretched, umbrella in hand.

Samantha Polidoro

Over Head
“I bought the umbrella in a pinch.” Her travel advice: “Pack layers. Bring small creature comforts. I always bring a journal.”

Traditional Crafts
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!”

Sentimental Value
“Souvenirs take you back to certain memories, something
 you wouldn’t remember 
without that cherished thing.
 It’s powerful time travel.”

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