My Second First Time in Ireland

BY FAITH Frith, ’18 // Professional writing, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Anyone who knows me knows that this isn’t my first trip to Dublin. I came six years ago before I started my freshman year of high school. During that nineteen-day experience, I developed a love for Europe and its culture. This love burned so brightly that I was ready to come back long before I returned to the States.

Relaxing in St. Stephen's Green

Me and my friends in St. Stephen’s Green during my high school tour to Ireland.

When it came time to discuss travel abroad plans with my academic adviser in Champlain College, I began making a list of all the countries I wanted to visit but would also be comfortable living in. Now, my adviser is pretty well-known for pushing his advisees out of their comfort zone, and originally, he tried to talk me out of coming to Dublin as he believed it maybe wasn’t going to be challenging enough for me. I’d already been there so I already had some level of comfort. But I successfully argued to go.

There is something beautifully different about studying abroad in a country versus coming on a summer high school tour. My first trip to Ireland was lovely, but it wasn’t my trip. I didn’t get to decide where to go or what I was going to do. I was just along for the ride. And yeah, that was fun but this trip is sooooo much better and sooooo much more than that.

Bray Head

Champlain College students in Bray, Co. Wicklow during the student orientation for the Champlain Abroad Dublin program, Fall’17.

This is my trip. Yeah, I’m taking classes but ultimately, I get to do what I want when I want. And that kind of freedom is necessary to immerse yourself in a culture. I didn’t have that level of freedom the first go-round.

Interesting signs at Dublin Airport

I flew to Dublin by myself, got through customs by myself, and made it to the meeting place by myself. Instead of hopping on a coach bus and driving straight to a tourist hotspot, I got in a taxi and headed to my apartment.

I really love that this time around I have a place to call “home.” It’s a bit off the beaten path which is perfect for me. I love city environments, but I also like having some place quiet and chill to lay my head.

Living in Dublin for the past month has been the blissful honeymoon with adulthood that I didn’t know existed. I don’t have a food plan which means I have to fend for myself. Back in Burlington, I found myself constantly eating out and thought that I might slip into familiar spending habits here. Thankfully that’s not the case. I go grocery shopping weekly and make my own meals. It’s definitely not as bad as I thought it would be.

I get to come and go as I please (when I’m not required to be in class of course). This gives me time to sit and relax in St.Stephen’s Green. I vividly remember my first trip to the Green. I was ecstatic because it was the first place in Ireland where I could actually be in the Crayola crayon green grass. I happily skipped onto a patch of grass and collapsed in near snow angel form with patriotic Mickey. Now I spend hours at a time sitting on a park bench and writing whatever flows while I’m there.

 

On the train to Bray during student orientation

So what I’m getting at is that you shouldn’t let an old, pre-college trip stop you from spending a semester abroad in a somewhat familiar place. You’ve grown as individual, and the city that you’re returning to has changed as well. Dublin is a bustling city so full of life. I didn’t give it its due credit my first time here. I was a city girl whose mind had not yet fully opened.

Now that I’m back, I can see how it’s not that much different than Philly. It has the ridiculous inner-city traffic, the crowds of people commuting from one place to another, and a thriving sense of city pride.

And you might just have a similar revelation when you study abroad.

 

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Champlain Cyber Security Students volunteered at the Zero Day Con in Dublin

3 study abroad students from Champlain College’s Computer Networking and Cyber security program spent a full Tuesday in early March as volunteers at the Zero Day Conference held at the Dublin Convention Centre. The conference aimed at giving giving strategic guidance on the opportunities and challenges facing CIOs, CISOs and senior IT executives today. Zero Day featured keynote speakers and panels offering unique insights on cybersecurity, blockchain technology, IoT security, EU GDPR and cognitive computing. The Irish organisers from cyber security firm SmartTech were very happy with our students on the day.

Zero Day Con Dublin

From Left to Right, Parker Desborough, Emily Shelton and Christopher Pickett. Champlain Cyber Security students volunteering at the Zero Day Conference in Dublin, March 2017.

 

Please see below comments from the three students.

The Zero Day Conference was a fantastic chance to see what well known computer security companies think the future will be like. The conference showed that increased automation does not have to be a bad thing for employees, a viewpoint sorely needed as artificial intelligence becomes more of a reality.” – Parker Desborough’18

It was really rewarding to be a part of Dublin’s first security conference and experience the industry from a business perspective. These kinds of opportunities are invaluable to students for networking and I really appreciated getting to participate in this event!” – Emily Shelton’18

 “Zero Day Con was a top-notch experience. The ‘who’s who’ of technology companies in Ireland were in attendance, and the organizers were very happy to welcome Champlain students as volunteers. A quote from one of the panelists has been in my head ever since: “It will cost you to implement good security practices, but it will eventually cost you more if you don’t.”  – Christopher Picket’18

You should also check out this blog post about our students volunteering at the European Cyber Threat Summit last year.

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Teaching Frost and Plath to Irish students

BY KATHRYN GESSER, SECONDARY TEACHER EDUCATION’18, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Kathryn Gesser'18, Education, Champlain College

This semester I was one of ten Champlain Abroad students enrolled in the Community Advocacy and Inquiry class (EHS 300) provided by Champlain Dublin’s curriculum. Part of the requirements for the class was to complete a semester-long placement in a community facility. Some students volunteered at after school programs or other youth-centered organizations. As a Secondary Education major, I was placed in Mount Temple Comprehensive school in Clontarf, Dublin (where U2 went to school) to teach three classes and help facilitate a Literary Magazine editing team of students. Though it was a requirement for both the class and my major to complete these hours of student teaching, I was able to end the semester with a feeling of not only an academic gain and added experience, but a personal accomplishment as well.

 

Mount Temple Comprehensive SchoolAfter speaking with the head of the English department at Mount Temple, I was placed with the responsibility of teaching American Poetry – Robert Frost and Sylvia Plath – to Irish students. Being two of my favorite authors, I was initially excited to hear I would be teaching their work, while at the same time, intimidated by the challenge. I was sure that, being American, these students would have high expectations of me to know all about these American poets. The task came with the added notion of their knowledge being imperative to passing the English portion of their national Certificate Exams which all but dictated what colleges they’d be accepted into. The concept of these exams was brand new to me upon my joining the Mount Temple community. I must have spent an entire weekend in Starbucks going over lesson plans and analyzing poetry.

On my first day, I was introduced to many of the teachers in the English and Language Arts department. They gave me a true Irish Welcome, which I’ve learned by now includes many smiles, an offer of Tea, food or sweets of some sort, and a “You’re very welcome here!” The students, to my happy surprise, were just as warm and welcoming. They were genuinely interested in where I was from as soon as they heard my accent. I told them about myself and what we’d be doing for the next few weeks together, looking over poets, getting them ready for their exams at the end of the school year.

In the following weeks after that first day, I began to look forward to my early Wednesday mornings at Mount Temple. It was even a relief to me when the weekend came, not only because it was a small break from my own classes, but because I knew I’d once again be able to sit in one of the many amazing Dublin cafes and plan the lesson for the coming week. I thought to myself several times, ‘Can I really be having so much fun doing this? Isn’t this supposed to be my actual job someday?’ I was presented with a new perspective on what it could actually feel like to live each day in my career field of choice.

Mount Temple Comprehensive SchoolAfter looking back at my time in Clontarf, I am now also able to look forward on my future with less wincing and churning in my stomach at the sheer inevitability and closeness of next year’s graduation date. I have a better idea, thanks to my experience at Mount Temple, of what I’d like to do as a next step: continue my schooling and work with students who wish to be writers, in a college setting. This was a conclusion I may not have come to as easily, or at least not have had so much fun coming to it, had I not decided to study abroad in Dublin this semester. It made the trip over the ocean worthwhile, and I would recommend the class to any future study abroad students who are looking for a way to get fully immersed in the surrounding community of Dublin.

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4 of my favorite book shops in Dublin

BY KATHRYN GESSER, SECONDARY TEACHER EDUCATION’18, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

1. The Gutter Bookshop

Named after the famous Oscar Wild Quote, “We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.” The Gutter Bookshop is an independently owned haven of new books and old classics. There’s a bookshelf for every genre, including children’s stories and Irish history texts. If you can’t find what you’re looking for here, the owner has no problem ordering your next read for you.

Location: Crow’s Lane, Temple Bar

The Gutter Book Shop in Dublin The Gutter Book Shop in Dublin The Gutter Book Shop in Dublin The Gutter Book Shop in Dublin

2. The Winding Stair

This quaint bookstore is tucked away near Dublin’s City Center. Here, you’ll find many new as well as used books which makes this a great place to find your favorite books. After buying, feel free to stick around and order off the fixed menu available everyday or for a pot of tea. Sit by the window and people-watch, or lose yourself in one of the thousands of titles available.

Location: 40 Ormond Quay Lower, North City

The Winding Stair Book Shop Dublin The Winding Stair Book Shop Dublin The Winding Stair Book Shop Dublin The Winding Stair Book Shop Dublin

3. Secret Book and Record Store

Not only will you find classic, fiction, and poetry books here, but a wide arrangement of music as well. Records, cassettes, and CDs for low prices are also available here. Tucked underground and through a hallway of music and art posters, it feels like you’re entering another world when you walk into this book and record store.

Location: 5 Wicklow St, Dublin 2

The Secret Book and Record Store in Dublin The Secret Book and Record Store in Dublin The Secret Book and Record Store in Dublin The Secret Book and Record Store in Dublin

4. Books Upstairs

Books Upstairs is on of Dublin’s most unique bookstores. Browse around two floors of books from all genres and authors. Then, enjoy your book along with a hot beverage and tasty baked goods on the top floor where a cafe awaits.

Location: 17 D’Olier Street, Dublin 2

Books Upstairs Dublin Books Upstairs Dublin Books Upstairs Dublin

If you’re feeling a little peckish after the book shop visits and looking for somewhere to eat, check out this blog post on the “Taste of Dublin” by Casey Reagan’15 for some ideas on where to go.

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Irish Slang for Champlain Abroad Students

BY KATHRYN GESSER, SECONDARY TEACHER EDUCATION’18, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Champlain Abroad students have been in Dublin for almost a month now. The time is moving quickly, and while becoming familiarized with the zigzagging streets and vibrant nightlife of the city, it can be difficult to grasp the more subtle, covertly charming aspects of life in Ireland, especially found in casual Irish conversation.  Thanks to the help of Champlain Abroad Dublin alumni, a list of such common slang terms has been compiled which one is likely to hear in any Dublin bar, cafe, or street corner.

 

Small Talk:

 

The Black Stuff – Guinness

Image result for guinness

It’s one of the things Dublin is best known for.

 

Class – Cool

Image result for leo dicaprio gatsby meme

Just a classier way to say it.

 

Craic – Fun

Image result for house party

So don’t get freaked if someone asks you where the craic is. You’re not in America anymore.

 

Eejit – Idiot

Image result for eejit

 

The Fear – The regret one feels after a night of heavy drinking.

Image result for i regret everything

 

Garda – Police

Image result for irish police

Still getting used to the idea of Irish Police not carrying guns like American police.

 

Gas – Hilarious

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The 4-Step Student Guide to Dublin Bus

BY MEGHAN NEELY, PROFESSIONAL WRITING’18, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Dublin is a big city.

There’s a lot to do and see, and while most things are within walking Dublin Busdistance of Champlain Abroad’s Academic Center and student apartments, you might not always have the time or the energy to get places on your own two legs. Lucky for you, Dublin has some of the best public transportation systems in Ireland. And perhaps the most notable mode of travel among them is Dublin Bus.
Now, I know city buses don’t always have the best reputation. They tend to be crowded, sweaty tin cans that are never on time. And while these factors hold somewhat true for Dublin Bus and countless other bus services around the world, it’s not exactly an opportunity you can pass up. The buses are a way of life here in Dublin, and if you know how to get around everything else will just be a minor inconvenience. So, what exactly do you need to know?

 

1. Your Student Leap Card is Your Friend Student Leap Card

If you’re planning to travel via Dublin Bus, then one of the best investments you can make is a student Leap Card. These nifty little pieces of plastic will allow you to tap-on at any Dublin Bus stop with preloaded cash, freeing you from the hassle of calculating fare and counting exact change. What’s better is that you can also download the Leap Top-Up app to your smartphone, allowing you to add money to your card wherever you are. With a Leap Card, you can never be caught short. Continue reading

Dublin Welcomes Champlain Abroad Students – Spring 2017

by Kathryn Gesser, secondary teacher education’18, Champlain College

Champlain Abroad students arrived in Dublin two weeks ago and the city has already infected them with its beauty and Irish charm. A few students took the time to share what they’ve learned so far on what will become their semester-long adventure as well as what they’re looking forward to most about living in Ireland. 

Peter Breitwieser’18 Major: Accounting

 

“The most important thing I’ve learned so far is what it takes to become a ‘Dubliner’. Being immersed is very important. I’m really looking forward to traveling. I want to see everything, both outside and inside the city.”

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Denzak

Brian Denzak’18 Major: Management of Creative Media

 

“I liked learning about how, if you want to meet Irish people and make Irish friends, you really have to be persistent and get out of your comfort zone. I’m also really excited to live in a big city and to be able to travel and get assimilated into a new culture.”

 

 

 

 

Natasha Sebestyen

Natasha Sebestyen’18 Major: Early Childhood Elementary Education, minor in Psychology

 

“I’ve learned it’s good to go out and go exploring. Regardless of where you go, you’ll always find something, and we talked a bit on the first day about finding your own ‘hidden gem’ of Ireland. I’m really looking forward to that, though I’m not even sure what mine’s going to be yet. I’m also looking forward to going out and becoming more comfortable with the city. As they say, Dublin is the ‘gateway to Europe’ and I’m really excited to travel around best I can.”

 

 

 

Jack Thomas

Jack Thomas’18 Major: Finance

 

“I’ve been learning a lot about how to make the most out of the time I have here in Ireland and how important time management is going to be for me. I’m looking forward most to branching out and experiencing the city. I want to do some new things I’ve never done before.”

 

 

 

 

Jackson Seifert

Jackson Seifert’ 18 Major: Marketing, minor in Finance

 

“I’ve learned so far that I really need to focus on making the most out of my time here. I’m here to be here, not to be on the internet. I want to experience the culture and get out of my comfort zone, which was something that got drilled down on during orientation. I can’t wait to travel around Europe. I also come from a really small town so this is huge to me and very exciting.”

 

 

 

 

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A time to reflect: EHS placement Dublin

BY blair thompson’18, psychology, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Working at Island Key’s Co-operative Childcare in the Docklands

Blair Thompson - Champlain Abroad DublinAs a psychology major, I’m part of Champlain College’s EHS division. Dublin’s EHS course for this semester of junior year entailed getting a placement as a volunteer in a workplace that relates to our soon-to-be bachelors degree. I started working every Wednesday at the Island Key’s co-operative childcare program. This program is part of a government organization for subsidized housing, for people and families of low income. Many of the people living there are actually immigrants from places like Lithuania and Poland, although many are still local Irish who have lived in the Docklands their whole life. The Docklands used to be a working class neighborhood where many manual laborers were employed working on the docks, hence the name of the district.

There was a period of industrialization that started replacing workers with machines which could get the job done faster. These workers became unemployed, thus turning the Docklands into a rather rough neighborhood, full of unemployed people who could no longer afford homes, and the school dropout rates rapidly increased. Any time I mentioned to an Irish person that I worked in the Docklands, I got the same uneasy reaction. I remember specifically one taxi driver telling me how it’s getting better now (due to these government organizations like affordable housing and childcare), but a few years back if you were an outsider walking down the street, “you’d find yourself naked before you even knew what happened”. The taxi driver was inferring by this that the people who lived there had a reputation for being really tough, and would steal literally everything from you, even your shoes….although the naked part was definitely an exaggeration.

I grew so much from working at my placement for the whole four months of my semester in Dublin. Let’s just start with the fact that it was an hour walk to work from the apartments, and an hour and a half walk from school. I had no choice but to take the dreaded and slightly feared public bus. I don’t know if anyone can relate, but back home in Connecticut any time I took the public bus it would end up turning into a fiasco. Whether it was going to different stops than I expected, resulting in me getting very very lost…in the rain. Or maybe anyone, male or female, can relate to some pretty creepy bus riders that try to start weird conversations and follow you off the bus. Let’s also not forget the grandpa-aged men asking for your phone number. So I was really stressed about how the heck I was going to make it to work every week. I many times would walk (note to future volunteers: never forget your umbrella), which

I actually really enjoyed because passing familiar faces and coffee shops after a while of the same routine became quite endearing and sweet. It was kind of a homey feeling, when I would pass business men and women living completely different lives, but still sharing a slice of our lives in common. After a while of recognizing one another, we would give each other a friendly nod, which is just one of those “it’s the little things” moments that makes me happy. Also as a side note, adopting some of the Irish ways while abroad can totally make one gain some weight, so that little time of exercise really pays off. Exercising also produces happy hormones, like dopamine, which is a nice way to de-stress.

So, after the first few work days I got in the routine of getting to work without getting lost. I even became confident enough to take the bus when I felt like it, which turned out to be a completely positive experience. Shockingly enough the bus routes turned out to really not be that complicated after all. If you can look at the bus route diagram while simultaneously finding those stops on your google maps, you’re good to go.
Now that half the battle of getting there was checked off the to-do list, It was time to finally start work. I was put in the classroom with the toddlers, where they can always use an extra hand. One minute you see them, the next they’re in corner…covering themselves with paint or something similarly inconvenient. About half of the toddlers first language was not english, even though they were just developing speech. This was interesting from a psychological perspective to observe how they found ways to work around the language barriers in order to communicate what they wanted or understand what we were saying to them. One really cute little boy in my classroom was from Romania and I watched him learn two languages at once. After being with the toddlers for a bit, I decided I wanted to try working with the older kids. I’ve worked as a pre-school teacher for younger ages before in previous jobs back in America, so wanted to try something new and get out of my comfort zone a little bit.

I started working from 1:30 in the afternoon, to 5:30, and i’m totally guilty of waking up right before then on those days. The kids were ages 6 to 9 and some parts of being a teacher in that classroom were actually more difficult than being with the toddlers. The kids and I spoke the same language, English…but it didn’t really feel that way at all. The Irish accent is so strong that sometimes I couldn’t even understand what they were saying, let alone the slang made things impossible. Slowly but surely I got used to the different words and phrases they used, and could finally understand them. They definitely thought I was an idiot from time to time when I couldn’t understand things they thought were so simple. I remember helping them with their homework and one little girl asking me how to spell something. I told her the American spelling but she was used to the British way, and she realized it was “wrong”. She definitely didn’t ask me for help on her homework for a while after that. Eventually she came around, but she had me prove my intelligence first! (P.s. A tip for any education majors coming over: they call a period “.” a full stop). Continue reading