Author Archives: Lilly Johnsson

About Lilly Johnsson

Assistant Director - Champlain Abroad Dublin

You Can’t See The Rainbow If You Don’t Look Up

BY Samantha McLaughlin, ’19 // marketing, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Before I came to Dublin I was on Church Street in Burlington talking to a friend. I was telling him about my travels for the up and coming semester, and as soon as I said “Dublin”, I heard a woman with a thick Irish accent say “Oh, I’m from Dublin!”. This Immediately sparked my attention, and I started asking her the basics. Where to go? What is it like? What should I do? She said to me Dublin reminded her a lot of Burlington, it may be bigger but not by much.

I guess I had my mind set on a scene from Game of Thrones, you know, looking out a window at  a small cottage into fields of never ending green. small houses with beautiful doors, nothing bigger than two story houses, farmland, castles and men that convene at the local pub after a long day’s work. Basically “P.S. I Love You” but maybe a little less romantic. Something so different from where I live in the United States. There  on Church Street, I just didn’t believe, or maybe just didn’t listen, to this woman about a place she has spent all her life. O’Boy,  should I have listened, because I was in for a shock when I arrived. But I quickly realized that woman I previously met was right. Dublin from the outside was just like Burlington. Sizewise it’s like Boston, even in looks it’s similar. I didn’t feel out of my comfort zone because I could easily guide myself around town without getting lost. Nothing felt uncomfortable because of this. I surprisingly started recognizing people that I’ve just seen from walking around. Speaking of walking, everything is walkable just like Burlington, plus buy and support local is huge just like Burlington.

And because everything felt recognizable, I initially felt robbed of my abroad experience. Am I pushing myself outside my comfort zone enough? I struggled with the fact that I was too comfortable, the sense that everything seemed too familiar. Had I chosen the right study abroad location ?

We are now nearly two months into the semester and I may have judged Dublin too soon. You know the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, it is true. I judged the looks of Dublin before I even got the chance to fully meet it. Despite my feeling of  “this is the end”, life did go on and orientation had started. There’s no way around it orientation can be a drag, though a necessity, but the information that is needed or required isn’t always the most interesting in obtaining. However for me, orientation helped unlock the treasures this abroad experience is going to give. Only if, I could release that robbed feeling, if I could stop judging this cover and actually crack the city for all that is has to offer. All expectation I had, had to be pushed to the ground and replaced with reality. Once I threw expectations out the door and with the help of Stephen’s ( Stephen is the Director of Champlain Dublin, he makes sure everything is running smoothly, honestly he does a little bit of everything, even accounting!) words and with the aid of my first night out to Harcourt Street (the street with all the clubs and bars, making for a crazy night filled with lots of fun), I realized then that I was uncomfortable being alone in a place that I was so comfortable being.

I have a lot of self-exploration to do and Dublin is going to help me with that. I realized that I’m not as independent as I thought, I saw this when I wasn’t comfortable talking to people unless I had a fellow study abroad mate with me every step of the way. I had a fear of being alone or being seen alone, I feel that in American society today, being alone is deemed as weird or unfavorable. You know that feeling, if someone is alone we think it’s because no one wants to be with them. Though here being alone almost looks elegant. There is a certain confidence that is portrayed on a woman in a restaurant indulging in a book or people watching as she digs into her meal. I came to Dublin with no close friends, so to me that felt like alone. I’m not truly alone because I have Champlain Abroad, which  offers the support from a small but truly special staff and people with faces that I recognize but don’t truly know yet! It’s me and Dublin now and I’ve realized I am stuck in the American mindset and I don’t know how to publicly be comfortable alone. But like I said, the help of student orientation and my study abroad program, I’ve cracked out of this shell and I see the light.

 

I’m ready to start my journey of self exploration through the culture, people and the land of Ireland and whatever else I hope to find that it offers. I think I will do this by exploring the Irish Film Institution opening, Dublin Culture night, Fighting Words volunteering experience, the Bluefire Street festival, trips to the cafe alone to journal, nights out in the pub, exploring Dublin’s National college of Art and Design and honestly anything that sparks my interest. Four months isn’t a lot of time and I’m planning to dig deep into the soul of Dublin, extracting everything she has to offer and customizing it on a personal level. I hope to gain that elegance and bring it back with me. Here goes nothing… Continue reading

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

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

 

Class – Cool

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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