Author Archives: Lilly Johnsson

About Lilly Johnsson

Assistant Director - Champlain Abroad Dublin

The adventures of solo travel

by Margot Nelson ’20 // Professional Writing, Champlain College

Study abroad is full of opportunities for different types of traveling. From group field trips to Northern Ireland and the West of Ireland that Champlain Dublin organizes to weekend trips around Europe with friends, it’s so easy to hop around and explore during your time abroad. However, there is another option for an exciting travel experience, which Rachel Paskavitz, a third-year Social Work student, experienced for the first time during her semester in Dublin.

Rachel Paskavitz, Social Work ’20 at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Photo credit: Margot Nelson

“I hadn’t realized how accessible solo traveling was until I sat down and realized it would be silly for me not to take advantage of the opportunities I have while I’m here.”

Rachel spent the weekend in Killarney, County Kerry, which is about a three-hour train ride from Dublin.

“I felt like traveling in Ireland would be a good first step into solo traveling. There was still so much for me to see here in Ireland, and Killarney was a great place to experience both a small town and the beauty of the outdoors. It was far enough out of my comfort zone that I was confident I could do it but wouldn’t get stressed or overwhelmed.”

The Killarney National Park. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

Planning is essential to any kind of travel, but when you’re on your own it can make the difference between a pleasant experience and a stressful one. Rachel recommends having at least your accommodation and transportation pre-booked, and to keep all your important information in one place.

“I was able to navigate the train system for the first time, so I was pretty proud of myself for doing that.” Rachel took the Irish Rail to Killarney and stayed in a hostel. “The Black Sheep Hostel was amazing! So cute, clean, comfortable, and friendly. 10/10 would definitely recommend!”

Set aside half a day at least to explore the town center of Killarney. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

Before going on your solo trip, Rachel also recommends making a list of activities and places you might want to visit but to avoid over-planning.

“Know what’s in the area but allow yourself free time to roam while you’re there,” she suggests. “In Killarney, definitely go to the National Park! It is literally right next to the town and you can walk right over to it. Explore as much as you can, and take a tour of Ross Castle in the park. It was really interesting and you can explore the whole castle instead of just seeing the outside. The town is also worth walking around, it’s really cute and small so you don’t need a lot of time to see it.”

Visit the Ross Castle in the Killarney National Park. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

So what are Rachel’s thoughts on her first solo trip?

“Being in full control of my time was really nice. Traveling with other people can be stressful sometimes because everyone wants different things, but I didn’t have to compromise! I was able to eat where I wanted and do what I wanted.”

You never know what you’ll find during your solo travels. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

Leave yourself enough time to explore wherever you decide to travel on your own! Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

“If you’re considering solo travel, just do it! Even if you feel nervous about it, when the time comes it’s so much more exciting than it is nerve-wracking. The best thing was the joy and excitement I felt over and over as I kept finding more beautiful things in the area as I explored, and the gratitude I felt for the opportunity to have that experience.”

Do you want to read more about independent travelling? Check out this gem of a blog post from Alumni Lindsay Maher. 

“I was leaving on a Thursday night, and the morning of, nerves settled into my stomach. Though I wasn’t leaving the country, the reality of embarking on this journey in a new area alone was sinking in. Needless worrying about whether or not I was going to forget or lose important items, then if I was going to truly enjoy going by myself.”

 

Visit champlain abroad to start your own study abroad adventure!

Continue reading

A Short Trip “Home”

By margot nelson, ’20 // professional writing, champlain college

I found some flowers at a local street market in the 18e arrondissement.

I went to visit my aunt a few weeks ago.

That’s not super unusual, people visit their aunts all the time. Except that usually when I want to see her, I have to take a 7-hour flight across the Atlantic, so being able to hop over for a weekend was brand new and so exciting.

My mom is French and my dad is American so I grew up speaking both languages, though we have always lived in the U.S. I attended French international schools in Boston and Philadelphia where I was surrounded by people like me with families across the globe. Even in my public high school, many of my friends had family far away: India, Croatia, Mexico… We were incredibly lucky to be able to travel to see our families whenever possible, and I feel so privileged and grateful to have grown up in such an international community of people who shared my experiences. That being said, part of me did envy my friends who could just go see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for the weekend or for holidays.

When I first found out I was accepted to the Champlain Dublin program, I knew I would be going to France. I called my aunt and planned to meet her as she got out of work on a Friday afternoon. It felt too casual to be standing there, in a cobblestone street in the 1st arrondissement of Paris (Ie arrondissement) with my backpack to meet up with her and get a pizza after a short, direct trip from Dublin. After 20 years of red-eye flights and impossible layovers everywhere from Heathrow to Amsterdam, it kind of felt like cheating. Like it was too easy.

Outdoor markets are a great place to find fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, and cheeses.

We spent the weekend walking around, going to the local market for daffodils and fresh bread, visiting the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, going to see a show at the Théâtre Marigny, and enjoying the rare February sunshine. With no plans in mind, we wandered around Montmartre to get some crêpes for lunch, and lingered in front of every patisserie we saw. In the Jardin du Luxembourg, hundreds of people were spending their afternoon in the fresh air, pushing wooden boats in the fountain, reading books in the grass, and generally just having a nice time. We stopped to admire the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was just as spectacular as I remember it from the last time I was in Paris ten years ago. Then, we found the Marché Aux Fleurs where my aunt bought some narcissus bulbs and I debated smuggling some plants back to my dorm room in Dublin.

Shop front of the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris. Photo credit: Margot Nelson

Beautiful plants and bulbs ready to go at the Marché aux Fleurs.

It was such a relaxing weekend and all too soon, it was time to go home. I can’t quite explain how bizarre it felt to wake up in Paris on Monday morning and end up racing in a cab from the airport to get to class in Dublin on time in the afternoon. Bizarre, but good.

Being French and speaking the language has always been a huge part of my own sense of self, and it’s been amazing to be in Dublin and to take advantage of the proximity and affordability of travelling to France for a couple of days. During your time abroad, make sure to find out if you have family in Ireland or anywhere else in Europe. And if you do, reach out and try to go see them! Having those kinds of connections makes the world so much more approachable and will give even greater meaning to your time abroad.

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD!

Continue reading

Tales of a First Time Traveller

BY Erin Warner, ’20 // MANAGEMENT and Innovation, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Hadley Roy is a third year Marketing major and Psychology minor at Champlain College. Though having never traveled overseas, she was inspired to come to Dublin because Champlain provided her with an easily accessible opportunity to live abroad long term. Coming to terms with the unknown is a huge barrier many prospective abroad students face before making the decision to commit.  In past situations, Hadley has found herself incredibly flustered when struggling to communicate with a heavy accented individual. Foreign environments tended to pull her out of her comfort zone, making the decision to commit to the Dublin Abroad program difficult.

However, the ability to lean on the Champlain abroad community for support empowered her to remain optimistic about the experience. Having peers with a range of travel backgrounds provides any first-time traveler with both the wisdom and empathy needed to feel comfortable abroad. In addition, staff members such as Tony Langan, International Student Life Manager, and Lilly Johnsson, Assistant Director, have been noted to be extremely encouraging during the transition. Tony and Lilly have answered any and all questions about the city to help Hadley make safe and smart choices while abroad.

“The tight-knit Champlain community follows you to Dublin and you realize how kind and caring your fellow students are. Everyone looks out for each other and we have become a family here.” -Hadley Roy

A piece of advice Hadley would give to another prospective first-time traveler is to accept and embrace that the unknown is scary. Once you embrace the unknown, the excitement and awe of travel is right around the corner! A great way to tackle the unknown is to bring some items of comfort from home with you. A recommendation from the first-time traveler is to bring a pillowcase that smells like your family’s detergent or a box of Annie’s Mac & Cheese. Packing something that can keep you grounded during the lows of culture shock can make it easier to transition into an environment outside your comfort zone.

“Try as much as you can, be as bold as you can, and enjoy every second of it.” – Hadley Roy

After a few weeks of being abroad in Ireland, Hadley has learned to embrace the unknown. She has mastered the Dublin bus system, visited a series of castles, and danced Irish step in a local pub. This month, with the help of some friends a weekend trip has been planned to Copenhagen, Denmark. She is even daring enough to attempt a four-country Spring Break to Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and Bratislava. While first-time travelers may find the Dublin Abroad program daunting, a close-knit community, supportive faculty, and a little bravery can allow any student to flourish.

If you want to read more about how to break out of your comfort zone, check out this blog post from Rachael Elmy, ’19. She describes her trip to the caves of Keash as “probably the most uncomfortable (and best) day trip ever!”.

VISIT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD TO START YOUR STUDY ABROAD JOURNEY!

Continue reading

Record number of professional placements in Dublin

BY DR. Caroline elbay // ADJUNCT FACULTY & internship manager, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

The increasingly popular Study Abroad Internship experience course (SAP 390) offered by Champlain Abroad Dublin continues to grow from strength to strength with a record number of professional placements this semester.   Apart from offering myriad opportunities to expand your networks and gain actual workplace experience in your professional field, students are also empowered in terms of intercultural competency through their professional engagement – a vital and much-sought- after skill by employers in an increasingly globalized world – and one which sets you apart from others.  Our host organisations in Dublin are consistent in their evaluations and praise of our student interns whose ‘Can Do’ attitude and professional commitment remains exemplary.

Rose Marshall (PWRT ’20) Champlain College intern with ShoutOut in Dublin.

Rose Marshall is currently interning with ‘Shout Out’, an education-based charity that focuses on LGBTQ+ advocacy, understanding and acceptance.  Rose explains how they: “mainly put on workshops for schools around the country together with workshops for teachers, social workers, and parents, mostly individuals who work with kids, though, they will sometimes be invited to work with different companies and their workers. 

So what happens at these workshops?

“These workshops go over the different identities in the LGBTQIA+ acronym, talk about how the students feel about their school’s level of acceptance of the community, and go over possible scenarios that can occur when it comes to people coming out or being LGBTQIA+”.

As well as facilitating workshops with ‘Shout Out’, Rose – a professional writing major – is also overseeing much of the organisation’s social media platforms and using her writing skills to communicate via Facebook and Twitter posts, writing press releases, and following up with schools after workshops.  In terms of professional development, Rose states that:

“Being in a new country and having to write for an organization that works closely with schools has really tested my ability to create pieces that will come across to those who receive it in the correct way.”

Alex Herter (PWRT ’20), Champlain College intern with Fighting Words

Similarly, the importance of effective communication and writing skills plays no small part at ‘Fighting Words’ where Alex Herter’s skills are being put to full use.  Established by renowned Irish author, Roddy Doyle, ‘Fighting Words’ is a creative writing center that works to foster the power of storytelling and creativity with children, teens, and adults alike.

 Alex explains: “When I take on the role of Writing Tutor during primary school workshops, I work with a group of secondary school boys on the “Book Project, helping them prepare an anthology of their own short stories, and I work with a volunteer to lead a Saturday session of Write Club that melds the game of Dungeons and Dragons with exercises that focus on the craft of storytelling.”

While ‘Fighting Words’ provided some initial training, according to Alex  “I have learned through doing at Fighting Words”.

On the subject of cultural differences between the Irish and American workplace, Alex states “I feel that in an American setting, I might not have been given this much responsibility this quickly. While I appreciate that the American work culture provides tremendous support to its workers, I feel that my independence and the trust that my supervisors have in me allows me to grow in confidence, skills, and abilities.” – a exemplary reflection of an organisation who tirelessly promote ‘The Write to Right’.

 

VISIT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD TO START YOUR STUDY ABROAD JOURNEY!

Continue reading

Trip to visit Amazon Web Services

BY Dr. Renaat Verbruggen // adjunct faculty, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Last semester I took my Global IT Ethics (CSI 320) and Computer Architecture (CSI 370) classes for a field visit to Amazon Web Services (AWS) at their new Dublin office – the Shannon Building in South Dublin just near the Grand Canal.

Champlain College students on their way to visit the Amazon Web Services HQ in Dublin

Matt Pye, Operations Manager with Amazon Web Services, hosted us. Matt’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. Matt then gave an overview of the type of Services (more than 1500 now) provided by AWS 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. 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 AWS Educational Programme which provides free experimental use of AWS for student projects. He also described in-depth 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. AWS currently employs 1700 people in Dublin and Cork and has released plans to hire 500 more over the coming years.

We were introduced to Bruce Shackleton from who is a manager in the Security division who spoke about AWS security and even answered GDPR questions. Finally we  had 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, Matt 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.

VISIT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD TO START YOUR IRISH STUDY ABROAD JOURNEY!

Continue reading

A semester of stronger relationships and new perspectives

BY Stephanie hauer, ’20 // PROFESSIONAL WRITING, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

When I boarded my flight to Dublin, one of the things that worried me most was being away from my family for four months.  I had no idea that my time abroad would help me build new and exciting connections with my family in ways I had never dreamed of.

I knew for a long time that I wanted to study abroad in Ireland.  My grandmother grew up in County Antrim, and her stories of home had enchanted me my whole life.  So when I entered my junior year of college with a plane ticket in hand, I was ecstatic to be accomplishing this long-held dream.  I was also nervous about being in a new place away from my family and close friends. I touched down at 4 in the morning, smiling but a little bit scared, and watched the sunrise blossom over this beautiful city that would quickly become my home.

Dublin instantly wrapped me up in a big, welcoming hug.  Everyone I encountered was kind and generous. The thick accents slightly obfuscated friendly greetings and offers to help.  I settled in and started exploring, emboldened by the charming atmosphere around me.

As much as I enjoyed being in the city, I was also eager to explore beyond its borders.  My goal was to visit the homelands of my grandparents and relatives. This adventure would take me to Northern Ireland, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, and Scotland.  Europe was now on my doorstep, and I periodically packed my bags with excitement.

My first ancestral trip was with Champlain to Northern Ireland.  I had grown up hearing stories of Giant’s Causeway, the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, and Ballintoy, so I was beyond excited to see those places included in the itinerary.  But the best part was that our route would drive us right through my grandmother’s home town of Armoy. While we were on the bus, our driver let me know when we were approaching, and I looked out the window with starry eyes at the streets my grandma had walked along herself.  Armoy was charming. It was small and cozy and sweet.

Stephanie Hauer from Champlain College crossing the Carrick A Rede Rope bridge in Northern Ireland.

The surrounding countryside reminded me of the landscapes that I drive through when I head up to school in Vermont, and I felt connected to my grandmother in a whole new way. Now, whenever I go to Champlain, I will remember this moment and feel closer to my grandma, even though she lives 700 miles away from me.

My parents came to visit during fall break, and we did a whirlwind tour of Europe to visit more of the home countries.  Our first stop was Warsaw, Poland. My mom’s father was descended from Polish people. He passed away in 2015, so I was looking forward to learning more about the country his family came from.  Warsaw was wonderful, and I felt so at home there. The food was incredible; I’m a very picky eater, but pierogi make me happy.

The cornerstone of our time in the city was the wall at the Warsaw Uprising Museum.  They have a memorial wall with the names of all the insurgents who fought against German occupation of the city in World War II. We found a relative of mine, who I later found out is my half great uncle, on the wall as a private first class.  I’d never even heard of the Warsaw Uprising, but this was a great introduction to it because it was an opportunity to learn about history and heritage at the same time.

Stephanie Hauer from Champlain College in Warszawa

Next, we took the train to Berlin to meet my family for dinner.  I only expected my uncle, aunt, and cousin. When we arrived at their apartment, I walked in to find almost a dozen people in the living room.  My aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family members were all gathered to welcome us. They had varying degrees of proficiency in English, but they balanced out their limited vocabularies with enthusiasm and laughter.  It was incredible to meet all of these people I didn’t know before. We could reference mutual family members like my grandpa and my uncle, and they all knew who I meant. It was very healing to share memories of them, and to hear new stories, since both of them have passed away.  It was amazing to be a part of the network of Hauers from across the globe.

Our final stop for this trip was Switzerland.  We spent a day in Lucerne and were blessed with amazing weather (even though the predictions all said rain and fog).  We crossed Lake Lucerne and crested Mount Rigi-Kulm. It was breathtakingly beautiful, and I was in awe of the city. My dad’s mother used to vacation here, so it was extra special to walk her footsteps on a vacation of our own.  My parents and I also visited Aarau, the town where my grandma was raised. We even found the section of shops in the center of the city where she used to work.

Stephanie Hauer from Champlain College on tour in Switzerland with her parents.

Fall break ended, and my parents returned to America, but I wasn’t alone for long.  My sister came to visit me, and we took a weekend trip to Scotland. We scoured the city of Glasgow until we found a plaque dedicated to another relative of ours, James McGill.  Glasgow was a beautiful city, as was Edinburgh, and the people there were very kind. The Scottish part of our heritage is somewhat diluted, as it is from a few generations back, so I don’t know as much about it as my other nationalities.  This weekend with my sister was a great opportunity to learn more.

Stephanie Hauer from Champlain College exploring Scotland with her sister.

My semester abroad not only helped me connect with my extended family, but also with my immediate family.  It has been a long time since I’ve been on vacation with my parents, and being able to spend a week of leisure with them was a lovely bonding experience.  When my sister visited Dublin, I got to show her around the area and teach her all of the things I had been learning throughout the semester. I also forged new friendships with my flatmates, classmates, and even my professors.  I met many new people, encountered new perspectives, and immersed in a different way of life for a while.

My time in Dublin taught me a lot about my relationships with others, and about my own self and identity. I am so grateful for the chance to make so many connections in such beautiful places, and I will return to America soon having grown and developed in new and exciting ways.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD!

Continue reading

Internships Abroad Expand Students’ Horizons, Both Personal and Professional

BY margot nelson, ’20 // PROFESSIONAL WRITING, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

It’s no secret that students at Champlain get internships, sometimes starting as soon as sophomore year. Internships and field placements are a great way to expand your professional network, get some hands-on experience in your industry, and build an impressive resume. Getting an internship abroad offers an invaluable opportunity, allowing students to become global professionals before they even graduate.

Photo credit: Nicko Clinton

When Nicko Clinton, Graphic Design ’20, got to Dublin, he was more excited than nervous for his internships at Park PnP and Krust, an online parking reservation company and a catering wholesale and bakery café, respectively.

“So far, I am in charge of creating marketing prospects for both companies, and designing promotional materials for Krust, including the graphics on their menus,” explains Nicko. “During my time here, I want to try more fine arts graphics for Krust in order to develop my art skills. I hope to build up my portfolio.”

As part of any internship abroad, students must take the Study Abroad Internship course, taught in Dublin by Dr. Darren Kelly.

“I’ve learned a lot about Irish etiquette that helps me communicate with my internship hosts,” says Nicko about the course.

“We learn about how we can present ourselves in the most professional ways to prove that we are going to succeed,” adds Malena Groves, Filmmaking ’20, who is also taking the course. “We talk about intercultural intelligence because we are trying to integrate into a culture we aren’t familiar with. It’s great because it helps us understand how we can improve in our internships and our futures.”

Photo credit: Lena Groves

Lena is interning at the Dublin City Intercultural Language Service creating a documentary to share the stories of migrants living in Ireland and learning English. She is also helping these students learn English from an American perspective through a mobile filmmaking class focused on creativity and storytelling.

“At first I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure how the students would take to me,” she says. “Someone just coming in with a camera can be really intimidating, so I came in a few times before filming just to get to know the students and introduce myself. This helped them feel more at ease and more comfortable sharing their stories.”

One of the most important parts of her internship, to Lena, is the community.

“I hope to create some really nice friendships with the students,” she says. “By getting to know my students and learn bits and pieces from all their cultures, I can communicate their stories and make them accessible to everyone in order to show the great impact that migrants can have on a society.”

By doing an internship abroad, you’re not only becoming a global professional with a diverse, international network, but you’re also giving yourself the chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make friends and connections you might not have had otherwise.

Does an internship abroad sound like the right choice for you? Applications are due by February 15 for all those interested in interning in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020. Click here to get started!

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD!

 

Continue reading

Break out of your comfort zone and join a MeetUp

Hi, my name is Meghan Donovan and I’m a third year Computer Information Technology major at Champlain College. I have had the incredible opportunity to study abroad in Dublin, Ireland this semester, and I have been having such a fantastic time. Studying abroad means something different for everyone. I wanted to not only explore Europe, but to immerse myself in Dublin’s rich community. This was an extremely intimidating thought. How was I supposed to attend events as if I was a local when I am definitely not a local? This thought crippled me for my first two months in Dublin, and come November, I realized I had to overcome this fear in order to start doing the things I wanted to do.

Her+Data

Meghan Donovan in the mountains of County Mayo during Champlain College’s West of Ireland Tour.

So, I pulled up my MeetUp app and began searching for events. Fortunately, MeetUps are extremely popular in Dublin so there are a wide variety of events for everyone’s interest. I found the group Her+Data, a group designed for women in data technology to meet and share ideas and network. They were having an event at the Google Docks in Dublin, so I took a leap of faith and signed up, not really sure what I was in for.

I was nervous at first, but at the same time extremely excited to finally break out of my comfort zone. I found my way to Google, and checked in. I had never been inside of a Google office building before, and its modern architecture reminded me that this side of the city was a part I had never experienced before.

 

Meet-up setting at the Google HQ office in Dublin

I arrived to the meeting to find data industry professionals and students evenly mixed throughout the group. I even made a friend within the first few minutes. We were given free food (always a plus) and a half hour to network. Then, we all sat down and listened to three women speak about their projects and experience in the tech industry. Afterwards, I even got to meet one of the speakers, who was Director of Analytics for Eir (Ireland’s major telecommunications company) Overall, this MeetUp was successful because I got to meet industry professionals, visit the Google offices, and meet other data students that are living in Dublin!

Studying abroad is what you make of it

I believe that studying abroad is what you make it. For me, traveling through Europe is a big part, but I also want to feel as though I am a part of the city I live in. Volunteering in the community, as well as participating in a MeetUp has made me feel that I am absorbing into Dublin’s rich culture and community. While my time abroad may be ending soon, I am glad that I have been able to attend so many different events that have made me feel like Dublin is home. So for those who are preparing to study abroad, make a list of what you want out of your semester in Dublin. If you want to immerse yourself in Dublin’s community, I highly recommend getting yourself out there and breaking out of your comfort zone… I promise it will only do you good.

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD!

Continue reading

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. 

Continue reading

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. […]

Continue reading