Creating New Connections in the Classroom

By: Julianna Pratt, ’16 // Early Childhood and Elementary Education

One difference about my academic experience in Dublin is the opportunities that we get to explore and immerse within our classes. This semester definitely tops my college experience in terms of academic classes. The teachers in the Champlain Abroad Dublin program are all nothing short of amazing.  So far in each of my classes, learning has taken place outside the classroom and they have really applied what we are learning to the city around us.

Monday mornings at 9:30 AM, probably one of the hardest time slots to fill after long weekends, but Dr. Darren Kelly definitely keeps us up and involved. In Community Advocacy and Inquiry (EHS 300), we talk about the different communities within Dublin and what makes them how they are. We’ve taking a couple of different tours throughout Dublin, learning the history of different areas and examining elements that change certain community whether it be social status, level of crime, or political history. Through this class, each individual student also has a placement on top of the course. Each of our placements are in a different part of Dublin and at the end of the semester we will come together and compare what we have learned about our communities that we’ve been involved in for the past semester. My placement is at St. James National Primary School, just a short distance from where I live. Only three weeks in, I have already begun to get immersed in the community and understand what makes this community the way it is. Also throughout the semester we get the opportunity to visit everyone’s placements and we’ve already gotten the chance to do some community service with the Aisling Project, helping them build tables and chairs for their after school program to support the children in their community. The experiences awarded through this class will help me to become a better educator and to further understand the communities in which we all come from.

Inside the Marble Arch Caves in Northern Ireland!

Inside the Marble Arch Caves in Northern Ireland!

My next class is Earth Science. In this class, we have a lot of hands on learning experiences. Just in the past couple of weeks, we got to go on a field trip to the Marble Arch Caves in Northern Ireland to look at caves and learn about the process of how caves are formed. Also in our lab period we’ve gone out to sights such as the Glasnevin Cemetery to do case studies on the weathering of certain rocks and also to the Geology Museum at Trinity College to get a closer look at the different rocks and processes that we are talking about in class. Both Stephen Robinson and Ciaran Pollard really want us to get a better understanding of how geology affects us and our planet.



Early Irish History has enlightened me on how Ireland got its start. Kelli Maoileoin is an expert in the field of archeology and brings an interesting perspective to the class. We get to learn a lot about her firsthand experience at a lot of the dig sights across Ireland and getting to see what she learned about the early Irish settlers. Also in a couple of weeks we will get the opportunity to explore the Hill of Tara in the Boyne Valley, an opportunity I am very excited for.

Selfie in front of the National Library of Ireland with my Writing in the City class. Photo Credit: Stephen McMahon

Selfie in front of the National Library of Ireland with my Writing in the City class.
Photo Credit: Stephen McMahon

Writing in the City. What a class. I don’t think I’ve loved going to a class more than I’ve enjoyed attending class with Stephen McMahon. I’ve become so immersed in Dublin because of this class. We haven’t gone a single class yet without an expedition across Dublin. We get go to all of the gems of Dublin and really get a feel for what this city has to offer. Coming into this class, I was very wary due to the fact that I am not a writer, but through this class I have become more confident in my writing ability and feel like I am getting the most out of my experience in Dublin every time I attend this class. We’ve visited the Iveagh Gardens (my new favorite oasis in the city), St. Stephen’s Green, the National Library to see the Yeats exhibit as well as a striking photography display by Gerry Andrews, and much more. This class still continues to surprise me about what it has to offer.

My final class is Cultural Immersion through the Fine Arts; in this class Jacinta Kendrick has taken us to almost all of the major museums as well as the 1,000 year walk tracing the architectural changes as well as the cultural fluctuations in the past thousand years in Dublin. This class has afforded me the opportunity to go to museums and see exhibits that I would have otherwise not known about. Getting out and exploring Dublin is a major part of this class.

The professors here have a strong belief in learning through exploration and doing; and I agree. As an education major, I can appreciate this. Why stay in the classroom when there are thousands of years of history, art, science, and literature surrounding you in Ireland?