First few steps of my Study Abroad journey

Hi! I’m Adam DeCosta, a third year computer science student. I’m one of the social media ambassadors for Champlain Abroad Dublin this semester. You’re going to see more updates from me throughout the semester, so make sure to keep up! Anyway, here’s a little bit about me. I am a huge nature enthusiast; I love hiking, kayaking, backpacking, camping, and photographing all of it. If an activity has anything to do with the outdoors, I probably would want to try it out. I also love being inside. I enjoy playing video games, editing photos, watching Netflix, programming, and just reading tech news. 

Making new friends in the west of Ireland

Making new friends in the west of Ireland. Photo Credit: Montserrat Guerra Solano

I was born and raised in a tiny town called Georgia, Vermont, just over twenty miles north of Burlington. There was pretty much nothing to do there, I had one neighbor and he actually lived in a different section of the house. I spent most of my life living on a dairy farm with my grandparents and my mom. I am a first generation college student and everything post high school was terrifying to me.

study abroad in ireland

Champlain College has given me so many opportunities and so many new paths to go. Before coming to Champlain I had never heard of study abroad. So if you went back in time, found high school me, and then told me I was going to spend four months in Ireland I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Now I’m here, and it is such a life-changing experience. Before I even got to Dublin I had a new adventure; it’s called flying! For those of you who haven’t flown before, don’t worry about it! It’s a ton of fun! Quick tip: if you are in the Northeast, book through Aer Lingus so you can get some fairly cheap direct flights to Dublin! It will make your life so much easier!

Bray Beach with Bray Head in the background. Photo credit: Adam DeCosta

Dublin is the first city I’ve ever lived in and it’s definitely been an adjustment for me, a Vermonter born and raised. For me, the “big city” was Burlington, and Dublin is super different, but also fairly similar. I’ve never really experienced living anywhere there wasn’t any mountains or trees in view. No matter what direction I look from the terrace above our housing in the Highlight student accommodation I see more buildings. It’s nothing bad, just pretty different. Don’t worry though! If you love nature as much as I do it’s super easy to get outside of Dublin by taking any of the trains. Bray is beautiful and right on the seaside. We were taken there during the student orientation and there is a beautiful walk up to the top of Bray Head where you can see the entirety of Bray with an incredible view of the surrounding area. I highly recommend taking the walk up!

like a local

There are also a bunch of really nice parks in Dublin. Right by Champlain’s Academic Center there is St. Stephen’s Green. It’s a pretty busy park and has a beautiful center with tons of flowers and it’s surrounded by trees. You can hang out there and eat food, or do some work, or just lie in the grass and listen to music. It can be pretty serene. I haven’t personally been to other parks, but I’ve heard that both the Iveagh Gardens and Phoenix park are beautiful. Phoenix park is huge, it’s seven square kilometers and has deer! So if you miss seeing animals that aren’t pigeons or seagulls it’s a great place to go.

Champlain students getting to know the locals of the Liberties neighborhood in Dublin. Photo credit: Will Botto

Something really cool we did during orientation was take a tour of the area we are located in. So we live in the Liberties which is the old historical section of Dublin and it’s honestly very nice. On this tour we met a lot of the local shopkeepers and grocers and it really helped me feel more at home here. Now whenever I go to them they ask me how my most recent trip was because they still recognize me. They’re very welcoming and also importantly, cheap. Unlike in Vermont / the US in whole, local grocers and food is actually cheaper than the supermarkets and groceries here are very cheap compared to home. Our orientation tour with the locals actually made the news in one of Ireland’s largest newspapers, you can read more about it here in the Irish Times. 

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Champlain students volunteers at ZeroDayCon

BY Patricia Sanchez, ’19 // International Business, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE Being in Dublin this spring semester, Champlain College and the cybersecurity firm SmartTech247 offered abroad students the unique opportunity for volunteering at ZeroDayCon 2018. This annual international tech conference takes place at the beautiful Dublin Convention Centre and draws corporations as large as Microsoft and IBM. […]

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Visit to the Little Museum of Dublin provides a visual journey of the city

By Rachael Elmy, ’19 // Professional Writing, Champlain College

A trip outside the classroom is always exciting, especially in a city like Dublin! Nicole Rourke’s 9.00am Writing in the City class is no stranger to these little trips. Many of us had just gotten back from Spring Break and were in no mood to sit down and listen to a lecture. We still wanted to get up and explore, and of course, Writing in the City let us do that. Even though it wasn’t a huge outing, it was still pretty cool.

We took a trip to the Little Museum of Dublin, about a ten minute walk from Champlain Abroad’s Academic Center through St. Stephen’s Green. The museum certainly was little. It used to be a Georgian house, but now, it is filled with artifacts donated by the people of Dublin. These artifacts included items from the 1916 Rising to U2 memorabilia. 

Champlain College students in the ‘Writing the City’ class visiting the Little Museum of Dublin.

Champlain College student Artemis Walsh, Professional Writing ’19, exploring The Little Museum of Dublin.

The great thing was, I could touch almost all of this, especially in the self-guided part of the tour. I’m one of those people who will touch things even if there is a big fat sign saying I shouldn’t. I loved the fact that I could sit in a big spherical chair inside the U2 room or play with an old typewriter in a mock journalism office. You could even sit at a small student’s desk and color if you wanted.

The first part of the tour had a guide, and you did the second part on your own (this would be the part with the big spherical chair and coloring). When we arrived, we wandered through this room full of some of the wildest fashion I had ever seen, all created by Irish designers. Some of us played a game of who would wear what (apparently, I would wear a skirt with pink and green patching) and others just read about the designers on the walls. I personally appreciated this part because I love fashion and I wondered why fashion history overlooked these designers. They were so talented!

Champlain College students in the ‘Writing the City’ class visiting the Little Museum of Dublin.

After admiring the clothes, our tour began. The guide took us on a visual journey of Dublin through the decades, from around the early 1900s until now. It didn’t feel like a lecture or a history lesson. He was telling us about the saga of Dublin. Even the self-guided parts presented side stories in the overall epic that is Ireland. Dublin is basically on this one continuous journey that started all the way back in 1916, and its story isn’t finished yet. In many ways, Ireland is a lot like the United States. We both had a fairly recent independence, we both have what we consider Founding Fathers and Mothers, and we are both proud of our national identities, down to the littlest detail.

 

VISIT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD TO START YOUR IRISH STUDY ABROAD JOURNEY!

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Curious about how and why you emotionally respond to the media you engage with?

We asked Chelsea Blount, ’19, Psychology major at Champlain College, to tell us a little about her experience taking the Media Psychology (PSY 360) course last semester. The course is newly added to the Champlain Abroad Dublin’s course listings and is taught by Lauren Christophers, a Media Psychologist with the University College Dublin’s School of Psychology. Please see below for a full biography.

Have you ever watched a television show, a movie, read a book, or even listened to a song and suddenly you are one with the media? Identification and transportation are just two of the theories we learned, as to how and why this happens. Curious about how and why you emotionally respond to the media you engage with? We learned that as well. Mirror neurons have a role in that answer along with James Lange Theory (Emotions occur after arousal), Cannon Bard Theory (Arousal and emotion occur simultaneously), and Schachter Singer Theory (Both physiological arousal and a cognitive label determine the emotion experienced).

Chelsea Blount

Chelsea Blount, ’19, Psychology major at Champlain College

You may be unfamiliar with these theories but you will feel comfortable with them by the end of the course. Media is a constantly evolving sphere and the psychology behind it is also constantly evolving with it.

There are some fundamental theories to be learned but the class will adjust and evolve with social issues and hot topics of the day. We discussed the effects of media along with the role and importance of minority or marginalized groups in media. For example, women, members of the LGBTQA+ community, people of the Black community, the Latin community, and the Asian community. We discussed sensory overload, clickbait, alternative facts, and even fake news. You learn so much in this class it is difficult to put into a little blurb. You will take many classes in your lifetime…this should be one of them. Continue reading

Hostels aren’t as scary as your parents think

BY RACHAEL ELMY, ’19 // PROFESSIONAL WRITING, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

My parents weren’t exactly thrilled when they learned that I’d be staying in a hostel for Champlain Abroad’s Northern Ireland tour. The first thing that came into their minds was probably unwashed sheets, unlocked doors, and people sneaking into the room late at night to steal my stuff.

Probably from that influence, I had no idea what to expect from my first stay in a hostel. I figured since our program director Stephen was staying there with his family, it most likely was somewhat safe and decent. 

staying in a hostel

Staying in a hostel is a new experience to many study abroad students.

I imagined all 53 of us staying in one big room full of bunk beds, some peacefully snoring and others using pillows to block out the sound. However, I learned that there were separate rooms that could house 3-10 people when room assignments were sent out. That was a bit of a relief, knowing that there was some organization (and doors!). I was roomed with six other girls who luckily, ended up being very quiet sleepers. My sensitive ears were grateful.

When we arrived at the hostel, my first thought was; “This looks a bit hokey.” There was a statue of a man dressed in red pointing at the hostel, and a picture of horrified-looking sheep on the sign. I did check this place out online a few days before we left and saw that it had good reviews, so I tried to keep my hoity-toity self optimistic.

The room I shared was small, no bigger than an average triple back at Champlain, or maybe even a large double. The ceiling was slanted with one foggy window smack-dab in the middle. At the end of each bed was a set of folded sheets and blankets. To my relief, they actually seemed freshly washed. Later on, the hostel owner came in with clean pillowcases for the pillows that waited for us against the radiator. The only downside was the mattress. It felt like it wanted to be memory foam, but you could probably break your tailbone if you sat down too hard.

game of pool

Ready for a game of pool?

Downstairs was the mess hall/gaming area, where there was a pink ping-pong table and a free pool table. For a while, it was just us girls being super competitive and silly at the same time. Most of us were terrible at ping-pong especially. Every time the paddle hit the ball, you had to duck and cover, praying it wouldn’t smack you in the forehead.

ping pong match

Ping-pong matches can get serious!

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Caves of Keash: Probably the Most Uncomfortable (and Best) Day Trip Ever

BY Rachael Elmy, ’19 // PROFESSIONAL WRITING, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

My alarm went off at 6am on a Saturday morning. Outside, everyone was still asleep, including the sun.

We agreed to meet outside the student residence by seven, whether or not everyone was there, to be able to catch an 8am train from Heuston Station in Dublin to Ballymote in county Sligo. By the time I got outside, my three friends were already walking past my building. I ran to join them. I was excited, but I had no idea what the day had planned for me.

There was no doubt that it was quite cold and wet, and I was worried that it would be so cold that I wouldn’t enjoy my experience. Despite going to Champlain College in Vermont, I actually hate the cold, and could easily live in 90 degree weather year-round if possible.  It didn’t help that on that four-hour train ride, everything we passed by was covered in snow! It wasn’t like Vermont snow, though. It looked more like someone lightly dusted some powdered sugar onto the fields and trees. It seemed tamer or more poetic than a Vermont winter, but that doesn’t deny the fact that it was cold!

As we got closer, there was less snow but more mist, sort of like someone was breathing onto a window. We hoped the moisture would bring a bit of warmth with it. Spoiler alert: We were wrong.

We called a cab once we got off the train. It was a small town, nothing like the busyness of Dublin, so I believe there was only one taxi service in the area. It was run by this sweet, skinny older man in a big white van (I know, that sounds sketchy, but don’t worry, we’re alive and well). We told him to take us to the pub closest to the Caves of Keash.

When we got off the cab, the pub was basically deserted. No cars were in the parking lot, and no lights were on inside. It was 11:30, and the pub did not open until noon. I could feel the cold begin to rise up from the pavement, through the rubber of my sneakers, and then settle into the soles of my feet. We told the driver that we would be okay with waiting there until staff arrived. He nodded, told us to pay him at the end of the day, and left.

The pub was in the middle of nowhere. It was across the road from a fenced-in field with some large hills behind it. The road itself stretched for miles in either direction. You could sit in the middle of it for a solid ten minutes and nothing would happen, except I wouldn’t suggest doing that because if a car did come, it basically came at the speed of light.

The Caves of Keash adventurers, (from left to right) , Rachael Elmy, Artemis Walsh, Molly Moseley and Sarah Bellefeuille.

The Champlain College Caves of Keash adventurers, (from left to right) , Rachael Elmy, Artemis Walsh, Molly Moseley and Sarah Bellefeuille.

While we waited for a half hour, we sang some really obnoxious songs from summer camp and my friend Sarah tried to make friends with the cats that lived around the pub. We looked like tourists who had been day-drinking, and we really hoped that no one saw us, because we looked kind of ridiculous.

The pub owner finally drove in about a minute before noon. We kind of awkwardly nodded to him as he unlocked the door and began to set up inside.

After about five or so minutes, we were let into this cozy little bar with a nice roaring fire, stone walls, and comfy chairs. My friend Molly ordered a Guinness, and the rest of us ordered tea, wanting to rid the cold from our bodies as soon as possible.

We asked the owner if he normally saw tourists heading to the caves. He told us yes, but normally during the summer. “The people who go during this time are…brave.”

We laughed, knowing “brave” was synonymous with “stupid” at this point.

We also met an older man, probably in his late fifties, with his mother, a woman in her late eighties. He talked our ears off. He was incredibly friendly, and even bought us all drinks, welcoming us to the West of Ireland. He told us a brief tale of folklore surrounding the caves. Apparently, one of the greatest high kings of Ireland, King Cormac Mac Art, was taken from his mother by wolves when he was an infant and raised in the caves. Now, do I believe that? Not particularly, but hey, I’m in Ireland. Using my imagination is a requirement.

Sligo scenery

Sligo scenery on our way to the Caves of Keash. Photo Credit: Rachael Elmy

By the time we left the pub, the weather was much more tolerable, but that didn’t make the climb up any easier. Continue reading

Have You Considered An International Internship Experience?

BY Kerry Cunningham, ’19 // Professional Writing, Champlain College

If possible, studying abroad during college is something everyone should try and do. Yes, Champlain is career-oriented, and it might make you nervous when they tell you to get an internship before graduating. If that’s your reason for not planning on studying abroad, fear not! Champlain Abroad offers an international internship experience! To reiterate Champlain’s website—not only does an internship offer an invaluable opportunity to build your professional skills and advance personal growth, it also offers a unique way to immerse your self further into, as well as encourages, understanding a different culture.

“Danielle Hazelton, Assistant Director, works with (from left to right) Aron Meinhardt (Producer), Michael Jacobs (Line Producer) and Jeremy Lee MacKenzie (Director/Writer) on short film Hidden Blueprints: The Story Of Mikey, expected to make its festival rounds later this year.”

But you don’t want to hear what Champlain’s website has to say. When asked about the process of applying for an internship abroad, Filmmaking major Danielle Hazelton ’19 said that there are a couple different steps you have to go through. First, you have to fill out your course schedule, including the internship course. “Once that’s on your schedule,” Danielle explained, “you’ll get an email asking you to prepare your application.

Part of that application is your resume and a cover letter. When you’re building those Irish resumes and cover letters, they’re different than the U.S. ones, so it’s highly recommended that you go to the Garden House to help get that taken care of.” Having a meeting with your career coach about interesting internships, interviewing methods, et cetera is a very important step in applying for internships or jobs anywhere. “You’ll usually hear back about a week or two before you head off to [wherever you’re studying], and they’ll let you know where you’ll be placed.” Internship placements are not guaranteed but the Dublin staff is doing their best to meet student requests. 

Danielle Hazelton ’19, on a hike in Bray during her study abroad semester in Ireland with Champlain Abroad Dublin.

Lots of students and people applying for internships are always worried about internships that don’t have them doing anything valuable, but Champlain does a good job at making sure your internship is worthwhile. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Danielle said. “I’m not treated like an intern or like someone who’s ‘Hey, go get me coffee.’ I’m treated like a member of the team, which is really great.”

Danielle is a production coordinator for a film and is given a lot of responsibility to help contribute ideas to the pre-production process, as well as getting to listen in on different meetings and discussing new ideas and concepts for the film itself. “During production, I’m going to be filming in Dublin, Wales, and Rome, so I’ll be going to three different places in Europe to be able to film.” Continue reading

Trip to visit Amazon Web Services

BY renaat verbruggen // adjunct faculty, CHAMPLAIN abroad dublin

On November 14th my CSI 320 Global IT & Ethics and CSI 385 Operating Systems Architecture classes went for a visit to Amazon Web Services (AWS) at their main Dublin office – One Burlington Plaza in South Dublin just near the Grand Canal. We were hosted by Alan Reddy, Operations Manager who has been with Amazon for four years after working as a programmer with a network engineering company.

Alan’s talk began by explaining the history, background and current structure of Amazon. The founder – Jeff Bezos – despite starting by selling books from his garage, always saw the company as a technology supplier and not a bookseller. Alan then gave an overview of the type of Services (more than 1500 now) provided by Amazon and how they allow companies such as Netflix to operate from the cloud and dynamically utilise extra capacity when needed. The list of services now is vast and also includes a specialised game development engine, secure authentication servers and dedicated platforms for the Internet of Things.

Champlain Abroad Dublin students ready to visit the office of Amazon Web Services

Champlain Abroad Dublin students ready to visit the office of Amazon Web Services

One interesting fact was that the Amazon web selling sites are also hosted on AWS but treated as any other paying customer. Importantly there is an Amazon Educational Programme which provides free experimental use of AWS for student projects. He also described the Amazon approach to graduate recruitment and more generally the types of background research that applicants should do before attending any interview with any company. Amazon currently employs 1700 people in Dublin and Cork and has released plans to hire 500 more over the coming years. They are moving into a completely new HQ in the coming months and in fact might be expanding further.

Finally after discussions about the use of AWS for the hosting of a start-up and its evolution to a
multi-site cloud-based system the afternoon concluded with a question and answer session. It was
fantastic to be allocated so much time and it was much appreciated. All this and a free lunch too!
While he had to be circumspect, Alan forecast that there would be some very interesting
announcements from Amazon at their annual get-together coming up in Las Vegas at the end of
November, when AWS “take over” the town. You can read more here: https://reinvent.awsevents.com/

Renaat Verbruggen, Adjunct Faculty, Champlain Abroad, Dublin.

 

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The Girl Who Comes in Lost But Leaves Being Found

BY SAMANTHA MCLAUGHLIN, ’19 // MARKETING, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Dear Iveagh Gardens,

Thank you for your silence,
Thank you for your grass,
Thank you for your trees,
Thank you for the peace that you bring to me.
Thank you for your birds,
And even for your bees,
I don’t know, why but for some reason this brings happiness.
Maybe it’s because, regardless of my thoughts,
I always leave with the feeling of glee.
So thank you for the escape,
Because without that,
I would lose a part of me.

With Appreciation,
The Girl Who Comes in Lost But Leaves Being Found

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