Nicole Baker is no stranger to exiting and entering the country. Since high school, she has travelled abroad four times. Her most recent trip was to Costa Rica last spring. Now she's a little concerned about returning to her Burlington campus.
"It's strange but I always am so happy to come back because we live in such a beautiful place," said Nicole Baker.
In Costa Rica the term "Tico Time" means you can be 15 minutes late to class. But at Champlain College, she knows that won't be tolerated and is expecting some culture shock.
"Class may start 15 minutes late or a half an hour," said Baker, "and that's acceptable."
But her biggest challenge, like most returning abroad students, is the fear of rekindling friendships and being a part of their old communities.
"It's hard to know how much you can share with your friends and know how long they want to listen to your travels," said Baker, "but usually you can find a balance. After studying abroad three times you know who wants to know your experiences and who wants to know you had a great time."
International relations are on the rise and the percentage of Champlain students going abroad has more than doubled from 26 percent 3 years ago to more than 50 percent.
Champlain's international education department provides many options for these students returning to the campus in the fall. Jim Cross oversees the department and says that it can be challenging for returning students to reconnect to a community that can't quite relate.
"Many times we call it the glazed eye effect," Jim Cross explained, "you start talking about your experience and you see their eyes glaze over because they have nothing to relate it to."
The international program provides orientations before and after travelling abroad, student engagement groups, study abroad fairs, and social ties with Champlain international students. Despite the challenges once they return, the school says the students gladly share their experiences.
"They come back and are serving as mentors for the students getting ready to go abroad," said Cross, "they have an incredible amount of enthusiasm and excitement assuring they can market the programs much better than we can."
As classroom doors swing open this fall -- abroad students slowly but surely find their place back in the Champlain College community.
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