I was baffled this morning to look at my school planner and realize that I’ve been here in Ireland for a week now; it all passed in a blink. Maybe it’s that Orientation Weekend keeps you so constantly busy that time speeds by, or that being jet-lagged and drooling with eyes glazed over leaves gaps in your memory. Whatever the reason, I have no doubt my time here will continue to progress this rapidly, and I hope I’ll leave feeling like I made the most of it.
I arrived on the same Delta flight with about fifteen other Champlain College students the morning of Tuesday, January 6th. As someone who can never fall asleep on buses, planes, trains, etc., I had been awake for a full twenty-four hours by the time I was awarded my apartment key. Still, I would advise any future students studying here to resist the temptation to spend the day unconscious. Get out and learn your way around; take advantage of the walking tours offered by the Dublin staff those first two days, because there’s plenty of time to sleep later. I was able to get my bearings in spite of the exhaustion, which was extremely helpful later when I had to go pick up a few essentials and top up my phone.
On Thursday, Orientation began with the herding of seventy-three Champlain Abroad students through Dublin’s narrow sidewalks to the Academic Centre on Leeson Street. There, we spent time reviewing the Dublin Student Handbook, and working out certain activities we may want to look into during our time here. The Dublin staff and RA’s put a lot of work into making sure the Champlain experience is not lost simply because you are overseas. They either have or can help you locate all the resources you might need to create the study abroad experience you picture for yourself. I hadn’t realized how many opportunities exist here outside of academics: this week I’m volunteering for an organization called Fighting Words to mentor students in writing, there are trips to both a comedy and a karaoke night, and I’m already thinking of signing up for a few local 5k races. There’s so much more to being in Dublin than just snapping photos and hitting the pubs, you have the opportunity to become a part of this city.
Thursday night we went out to a fantastic dinner at a restaurant north of the River Liffey, called The Church—so named because it is, in fact, a refurbished church. The organ, spiral stairs and stained-glass windows are all still there. (Fun fact: the founder of Guinness Brewery was married here back when it was still St. Mary’s Church.) The dinner was a chance to meet and mingle with some of our professors for this semester, which I believe is an opportunity unique to Champlain.
Friday and Saturday we were provided with even more helpful information for our stay here, but we also had the opportunity to do some exploring. On Friday we Champlain students took over a few train cars and headed south to the coastal town of Bray. A relatively short hike up “Bray Head” was made treacherous by forceful winds, however most of the group braved the climb, and the view from the top was well worth it.
On Saturday the Dublin staff sent us forth on a scavenger hunt that took us all throughout the city. In groups of six or seven, we were tasked with taking a photo in front of any foreign embassy, finding the “stiletto in the ghetto” or taking a picture with the barman in Dublin’s smallest pub. It was a great chance to familiarize yourself with the city’s streets, and to meet local people. Most were amused when a couple of vaguely lost American students approached them to ask for a picture or directions to find some obscure statue.
Overall, the weekend couldn’t have been a more perfect way of getting acquainted with my home for the next few months. I’m all ready to dive into classes, volunteering and exploring, and I’m so excited for what is to come!
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring 2015
Champlain College Communications major
Class of 2016