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Life Stories

Adventures in Education: Claudia’s Quest for Self-Discovery

This lesson is designed to build your critical-thinking skills in English as you read, listen, and answer different types of comprehension and discussion questions.

Pre-Listening Activities for Teachers

Although these questions are related to classroom instruction, independent learners can reflect on the ideas and topic to prepare for the listening portion of the lesson.

  1. Brainstorming Major Changes: Begin the lesson by discussing the concept of changing majors in college. Ask students if they have ever changed their career goals or majors, and encourage them to share their experiences. This will create a relatable and engaging context for the upcoming story.

  2. Vocabulary Preview: Introduce key vocabulary words from the story, such as “flair,” “spontaneity,” “indecisiveness,” and “immersion.” Have students guess the meanings or provide simple definitions. Encourage them to use the words in sentences to reinforce their understanding.

  3. Predicting the Story: Based on the title and a brief description of the story’s topic, ask students to predict what the story might be about. Have them write down their predictions and share their ideas with a partner or in small groups.


Listen and read the story and answer the questions. Key vocabulary words are marked in bold.


A language activity at Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab.

Once upon a time in a small college town in the United States, an Italian international student named Claudia was absolutely determined to make the most of her time studying abroad. Claudia had a flair for spontaneity, but she also had a knack for changing her mind quite frequently.

When Claudia arrived at the university, she declared her major as engineering, thinking she wanted to build impressive structures like the Leaning Tower of Pisa back home. However, after just one semester of long, grueling calculus sessions and confusing physics equations, she decided engineering wasn’t her calling after all.

Claudia then turned her attention to the fascinating world of biology. She dreamt of becoming a researcher and discovering a cure for the common cold. But alas, her fascination soon gave way to an irrational fear of lab mice. “They’re too tiny and adorable to be experimented on!” she declared, vowing never to step foot in a lab again.

Undeterred by her indecisiveness, Claudia decided to explore the world of business and economics. She pictured herself as a successful entrepreneur, managing her own dessert shop chain worldwide. For a while, her enthusiasm was unmatched. 

She even hosted food-tasting events in her dorm, but eventually, the ice cream addiction took its toll, and her waistline paid the price. “Maybe it’s time to focus on something other than food,” she concluded.

Onward she went, determined to find her true calling. Claudia attended an art history class and fell in love with the mesmerizing world of Renaissance masterpieces. Her dream of becoming a curator at a prestigious museum sparkled like a glistening Michelangelo fresco. 

But as fate would have it, she accidentally spilled a cup of coffee on her art history textbook, resulting in the most un-artistic coffee stain the world had ever seen. “Perhaps this is a sign,” Claudia said, interpreting the stain as a work of abstract art.

At this point, Claudia’s academic advisor was starting to wonder if she would ever settle on a major. But like a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, Claudia’s heart led her to the English department. There, she discovered a profound love for the written word, poetry, and storytelling. “Why didn’t I think of this before? I adore English!” she exclaimed.

And so, Claudia majored in English, immersing herself in the works of Shakespeare, Dickens, and Hemingway. She even started her blog, chronicling her humorous adventures as an international student in the United States. Her writing was a hit, attracting readers from all over the world.

As Claudia’s blog gained popularity, she had an epiphany. Why not combine her passion for English with her love for travel? And that’s when she decided to start her own online travel company. The concept was simple yet unique: personalized travel itineraries for those seeking quirky and offbeat adventures.

With her natural charisma and infectious enthusiasm, Claudia’s online travel company quickly became a success. Tourists flocked to her website to book vacations to hidden gems and charming little-known spots across the globe.

Claudia’s business flourished, and she eventually expanded her company to offer language and culture immersion programs. Now, she could proudly say that she was using both her love for English and her passion for travel to make a difference in people’s lives.

As Claudia looked back on her journey of major changes and indecision, she laughed heartily. “Life is a bit like a rollercoaster ride,” she mused. “Sometimes you have to enjoy the twists and turns to reach the thrilling destination.”

And so, with a heart full of joy and a mind filled with creativity, Claudia continued to inspire others to embrace change, follow their passions, and never shy away from the delightful chaos that life had to offer. For she knew that it was in those unexpected detours that the most extraordinary adventures were waiting to unfold.

Comprehension Questions: Self-Grading Quiz

Comprehension Questions in Text Format

1. What was Claudia’s original major when she arrived in the United States?
a) engineering
b) biology
c) business and economics
d) art history

2. What caused Claudia to change her mind about pursuing a career in biology?
a) fear of lab mice
b) difficulty in calculus
c) lack of interest in art history
d) a coffee stain on her textbook

3. What did Claudia major in after her various changes?
a) biology
b) business and economics
c) English
d) engineering

4. What inspired Claudia’s business idea?
a) her love for gelato
b) her passion for blogging
c) her fascination with art history
d) her combination of English and travel

5. What did Claudia’s online travel company offer to its customers?
a) personalized travel itineraries
b) art history lessons
c) free gelato samples
d) engineering workshops


1. What was Claudia’s original major when she arrived in the United States?

Answer: a) engineering

Explanation: When Claudia first arrived in the United States, she declared her major as Engineering, with the dream of building impressive structures like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

2. What caused Claudia to change her mind about pursuing a career in Biology?

Answer: a) fear of lab mice

Explanation: Claudia’s fascination with Biology was short-lived due to her irrational fear of lab mice. She decided that experimenting on the tiny and adorable creatures was not something she could bring herself to do.

3. What did Claudia major in after her various changes?

Answer: c) English

Explanation: After changing her major multiple times, Claudia settled on majoring in English. She fell in love with the world of literature, poetry, and storytelling.

4. What inspired Claudia’s business idea?

Answer: d) her combination of English and travel

Explanation: Claudia’s business idea came to her as she combined her passion for English with her love for travel. She realized she could create personalized travel itineraries, showcasing unique and offbeat destinations, which appealed to her customers.

5. What did Claudia’s online travel company offer to its customers?

Answer: a) personalized travel itineraries

Explanation: Claudia’s online travel company offered personalized travel itineraries to her customers, taking them on whimsical and fairy-tale-like journeys to hidden gems and charming spots around the world.

Discussion Questions

Intermediate Level (Recall and Comprehend):

  1. What were some of the majors that Claudia considered before settling on English? Use the past tense to describe her academic journey.

  2. How did Claudia’s passion for both English and travel lead to the creation of her online travel company? Use linking words like “because,” “so,” or “therefore” to explain the cause-and-effect relationship.

Advanced Level (Analyze and Interpret):

  1. The story portrays Claudia’s journey as one filled with humorous indecision and unexpected twists. How did the author use verb tenses and adjectives to create a vivid narrative that captures Claudia’s dynamic character? Provide specific examples from the story.

  2. Identify and analyze the literary devices used in Claudia’s statement, “Life is a bit like a rollercoaster ride.” How does this metaphor enhance the storytelling and thematic elements in the narrative?

  3. The story highlights Claudia’s ability to blend her love for English with her passion for travel to create a successful business. Discuss the importance of effective communication and language skills in entrepreneurship, citing real-world examples if possible.

  4. In the story, Claudia starts her blog to chronicle her experiences as an international student. Analyze the author’s use of first-person narrative and its impact on the reader’s engagement with Claudia’s adventures. How does this narrative perspective create a connection between Claudia and the audience?

  5. Reflect on Claudia’s journey of self-discovery and decision-making. What life lessons can we learn from her experiences, and how can they be applied to our own lives and academic pursuits? Use critical thinking and personal insights to support your response.

    Class Activities

    These post-listening activities add visual (seeing), auditory (listening), kinesthetic (moving), and tactile (touching) elements to engage students in meaningful ways based on their learning styles.

    1. Visual Learners (Learning through Visuals): Provide visual learners with a storyboard template, or have them draw their own. Instruct students to illustrate key events and turning points in Claudia’s journey, including her different major choices, the coffee-stained textbook, and her successful online travel company. Encourage them to use captions or short sentences to describe each scene. Once completed, students can present their storyboards to the class, summarizing the story in a visual format.

    2. Auditory Learners (Learning through Listening): Divide the class into pairs or small groups and assign each group a character from the story, such as Claudia, her academic advisor, a friend, or a customer of her travel company. Instruct students to create a podcast interview, where they take on the role of the character and answer questions about their experiences and interactions with Claudia. The interviews should reflect the events from the story and incorporate creative dialogue and storytelling.

    3. Kinesthetic Learners (Learning through Movement): Organize a role-play activity where students act out different scenes from Claudia’s journey. Assign roles, such as Claudia, her academic advisor, professors from her various majors, and customers of her travel company. Allow students to improvise some of the dialogue to add humor and creativity. After the role-plays, have a short debriefing session where students discuss how the characters’ actions and decisions influenced the story.

    4. Reading/Writing Learners (Learning through Reading and Writing): Provide students with a creative writing prompt that asks them to imagine an alternative ending to the story. Instruct them to write a short story or a journal entry from Claudia’s perspective, exploring what might have happened if she had chosen a different major or pursued a different career path. Encourage them to use descriptive language and reflective writing to delve into Claudia’s thoughts and emotions.

    5. Interpersonal Learners (Learning through Interaction): Divide the class into small groups and assign each group a specific aspect of Claudia’s journey, such as her major changes, her decision to start the online travel company, or the challenges she faced along the way. Have the groups discuss their assigned topic and brainstorm the pros and cons related to it. Then, conduct a debate-style discussion where each group presents their findings and arguments, fostering critical thinking and collaboration.

    Language Game

    Here are detailed instructions for playing Pictionary based on the story with the provided Pictionary cards:

    Game Name: “Claudia’s Journey Pictionary”

    Objective: The objective of the game is for players to draw and guess various words and phrases related to Claudia’s journey as an international student and her adventures.

    Materials Needed:

    1. A set of Pictionary cards with words and phrases from the story.
    2. A drawing board or whiteboard.
    3. Drawing materials (markers or chalk).
    4. A timer or stopwatch.
    5. Pen and paper for scorekeeping.
    6. Two or more teams with an equal number of players.


    1. Prepare the Pictionary cards: Write the provided words and phrases on separate cards, with each card corresponding to a different level of difficulty (easy, intermediate, advanced).

    2. Divide into teams: Form two or more teams with an equal number of players. Each team should sit together.

    3. Set up the drawing area: Place the drawing board or whiteboard in a central location where all teams can clearly see the drawings.


    1. Choose a team to start. They select a representative to draw, and the opposing team(s) should appoint a timer.

    2. The chosen player draws a card from the Pictionary deck based on the chosen difficulty level (easy, intermediate, or advanced). They should NOT reveal the word or phrase to their team.

    3. Start the timer: The timer sets the timer for a specific time limit (typically 1-2 minutes) for the drawing.

    4. Draw and Guess: The drawing player begins drawing the word or phrase without using letters, numbers, or verbal cues. They must communicate the concept solely through their drawing.

    5. Team Guessing: The player’s team tries to guess the word or phrase based on the drawing. If they guess correctly within the time limit, the team earns a point. If not, no points are awarded.

    6. Pass the Turn: After the turn, rotate to the next team in a clockwise order. The drawing player should change within each team. The opposing team(s) appoint a new timer for the next round.

    7. Keep Score: Designate a scorekeeper to keep track of each team’s points. Use pen and paper to record the scores as the game progresses.

    8. End of the Game: Play for a set number of rounds or until all the Pictionary cards have been used. The team with the most points at the end of the game wins.


    • For added excitement, you can introduce bonus rounds where teams can earn extra points for creative or humorous drawings.
    • You can also incorporate a rule where teams can “pass” on a card if they find it too challenging, but they won’t earn points for that card.

    Winning the Game: The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner. You can also have a fun post-game discussion about the story and how the words and phrases relate to Claudia’s journey as an international student.

    Here are some possible pictionary cards:

    1. Student
    2. Blog
    3. Major
    4. Engineering
    5. Travel
    6. Art
    7. Ice Cream
    8. Advisor
    9. Language
    10. Business
    11. Coffee
    12. Passport
    13. Journey
    14. Dreams
    15. Adventure
    16. Creativity
    17. Smile
    18. Change
    19. Culture
    20. English

    Different AI technologies, including ChatGPT and an AI voice generator, were used in a collaborative way to prepare the content for this lesson.
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