Author Archives: Lilly Johnsson

About Lilly Johnsson

Assistant Director - Champlain Abroad Dublin

Tony’s Tunes: Favourite Irish Songs – Fall Edition

It’s the end of summer which means darker days, colder nights and being more snug in general. For me the Autumn/Fall season means sitting inside, lots of tea, reflection, warm fires and going outside only to stand beside something warm! The changing of the seasons slows everything down from the long warm summer days and […]

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Kohle Feely ’21 on his internship with a Start Up in Dublin

While studying with Champlain Abroad in Dublin, I interned with Unify Ordering. Unify connects restaurants and other food services with suppliers through both their app and website. They digitalise suppliers’ product list with item details, in order to avoid the confusion and incorrect order quantities that have often occurred within the food industry. As an […]

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Third Year International Business student Haley Smoody reflects on her Study Abroad experience during Covid-19

I have dreamed of traveling around the world since I was a young girl. I had a little globe toy that taught you about cultures and languages that I absolutely loved to play with. My family did not travel much when I was younger and I didn’t see the ocean until I was 16 years […]

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A ‘Swede’ Proposal at the Cliffs of Moher

Duncan Persons, ’19 // Communication

Ah, study abroad. How I miss the days of venturing off to class, and being constantly amazed by the beauty of my surroundings. Out of the 11 countries and countless cities I’ve visited, Dublin is a metropolitan like no other. Its culture, its people, even its smell is something that cannot be found anywhere else, and will never dissipate from my memory.

Crossing the Carrick-A-Rede Bridge with Study Abroad friends. Photo Credit: Logan Hall Potvin, ’19 https://hallpotvinphoto.com/

I studied abroad with Champlain Abroad Dublin during my Spring 2018 semester. And while I did encounter challenges, my experience abroad is a cornerstone to my success and happiness today post-grad. But not in the way that you’d think…

Little did I know when I boarded my flight to Dublin, I’d later be asked to photograph an opportunity of a lifetime. Sounds crazy, right? Let me tell you how I ended up in Sweden after graduating from Champlain.

a visit to the Cliffs of moher with a twist

Flashback to almost two years ago, I was planning my Spring Break with my best friend Kassy who was visiting from my hometown in Upstate New York. Coming from the Adirondacks, we’re an outdoorsy breed and love nature and photographic scenery, so seeing the natural beauty Ireland had to offer was a must.

You know those memes of a graph where we think “success” is a constant or exponential line upwards? Yeah, I found out that’s not how it works. There are twists and turns and highs and lows. The same could be said for planning your trips, wherever you travel.

Kassy suggested we take a day trip out Cork, which can be found in the southern region of Ireland. When we arrived at our hostel, we saw a discounted opportunity for us to see the Cliffs of Moher out west. Now, at Champlain Abroad Dublin there is a voluntary opportunity to visit the West of Ireland as a group, and almost every student RSVPs. You tour some significant Irish landmarks — the Cliffs of Moher, the town of Galway, and one of the Aran Islands. So I wasn’t too thrilled about the idea of seeing the Cliffs twice since I had already paid for the group trip later in the month. Kassy rebutted, pointing out that weather is a huge factor  you get a gorgeous day, most times you will endure some kind of weather; heavy fog and intense rain being likely. I was ever-so-blessed to have intense wind and hail the first time I visited.

When we arrived at the cliffs, Kassy and I went up towards the castle. A man and I made eye contact, and I could sense the slightest hesitation in him. He lunged forward, pulled back, and then approached me asking if I would take a photo of him and his girlfriend. 

As we all fought the icy wind and hail, the man tried to convince his girlfriend to take a quick pic. As he hands me his phone, he says “I’m about to propose.”

What did I say? “Yeah, right”. I was thinking, “We all have runny noses from the wind blasting in our face, so romantic. This guy is not gonna propose.” Five seconds later, he’s down on one knee and asking his girlfriend to spend the rest of his life with him.

Cliffs of Moher Proposal. Erik and Lina sharing a special moment. Photo Credit: Duncan Persons, ’19.

Instinctually, I whipped out my camera and started shooting candids. I wanted to capture the moment perfectly but I was battling the elements of the earth, trying to record his proposal on his phone, and shoot photos all at the same time. After the woman said yes, we all rejoiced. Kassy and I congratulated them, and I offered to send them the photos I took. We exchanged contact info, and I sent the photos off in an email a few days later. 

wedding invitation FROM SWEDEN

Cut to Saint Patrick’s day, I went to the parade with a few friends, and Kassy had arrived back home in New York. I received a response from the man, reading, “We both want to say thank you for being the best person I could have randomly picked. The photos are great, and we are very grateful for the way you helped us capture the moment. We’ve already thought we would very much like to give you something as a token of our appreciation, and an invitation to our wedding is the least we could do!

Initially, I declined the offer. I was flattered and told them I appreciated their kind gesture, but it was unnecessary and overcompensating. However that changed in November, when I received the ‘Save the Date’ in my college mailbox back in Burlington. They had somehow found my college’s address in order to send me an official invitation. After thinking it through very carefully for months, I decided that I would book a flight to Sweden.

I left for JFK airport, and arrived in Luleå about 11am. After a few delays and cancellations, I made it to the wedding just in time for Lina’s mom to pick me up at the airport. When I arrived, it felt so good to be there. The wedding took place at Eric’s grandfather’s cabin, and the couple exchanged their vows down by the lake behind the house. While the ordained minister was speaking in Swedish during the ceremony, I sat in my chair thinking, “Wow, what an incredible story. I flew all the way to Sweden by myself to rejoice in such a special occasion for both of their families.” Every person that I met that day greeted me and made me feel so welcome to be there.

Summer wedding in Luleå. Photo Credit: Duncan Persons, ’19.

At their reception, I was to speak in front of everyone and share my perspective on our story, the way we encountered each other, and how fate is a funny thing. It made me think that if each event leading up to my trip to the Cliffs of Moher happened one second later, none of this would’ve happened.

global FRIENDSHIPS and lifelong memories

This trip was, by far, the most special trip I’ve ever taken. It was a complete risk on my half and their half, but it ended up being a fairytale ceremony. The amount of love in my heart that I have for Eric and Lina is never-ending, and I hope to see them at my wedding some day. 

Duncan Persons together with Lina and Erik at their summer wedding in Luleå, Sweden.

STUDY ABROAD ADVICE

Studying abroad can be intimidating, and it is perfectly okay to be nervous and excited at the same time. One piece of advice I wish someone gave me before I left home would be to keep an open mind. And I don’t mean “keep an open mind only to the positive and planned things that come your way.” When we welcome an unexpected turn of events into our lives, we are open to the greatest change. Keep in mind that something greater could be just ahead of you; Kassy and I wanted to kiss the Blarney Stone in Cork. But instead, we saw Eric kiss Lina after he proposed. Now, I don’t know about you, but I think I ended up getting the better end of the stick. Embrace the mistakes you’re about to make, learn from them, and go make some more.

My other piece of advice is to make this trip your own. A semester abroad is about YOU, and what you want to see, do, and who you want to become. Pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone is the only way we learn, and studying abroad is intended to do exactly that. Whether it’s traveling to different countries to immerse yourself in the culture, trying new foods, or meeting new people, these are all stepping stones that will help build your story and create some amazing memories. The best part is that you have a dedicated staff who are willing to give you ideas, help plan your trip, and push you to grow into the person you will become. I know without the Dublin staff, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I’m eternally grateful for the support I’ve received during and after my travels. 

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Tony’s Tunes: A Study Abroad Student’s Guide to Music in Ireland – Love edition

Welcome to the second edition to Tony‘s Tunes. This month, as it is the month of Love, I am focusing on Irish songs based around all things love. Here are some of my favourite songs that deal with love, hurt, relationships and everything else you can imagine.

Tony Langan is from Dromiskin, County Louth, about 40 miles north of Dublin. He has been involved in the study abroad world for the past 7 years, joining Champlain Abroad Dublin for the Spring 2018 semester as the Student Life Manager. Tony enjoys a good live gig, a nice pint of Guinness and showing people the hidden sights and sounds of Dublin!

 

1. The Waterboys – Bang on the Ear

The Waterboys are a legendary Scottish/Irish band that have been around for years. This particular song is about the singer, Mike Scott, recounting various different relationships he has had over the years. Beautiful lyrics, melody and storytelling.

2. Glen Hansard – Bird of Sorrow

Glen Hansard is probably my favourite singer from Ireland, if not anywhere in the world. I must have seen him perform over 20 times and counting, and this is certainly not the last time he will show up in one of these lists. This song starts slow and ends in an amazing burst of passion and shows off his incredible voice. The song is apparently written as a love letter to his mother and talks about how he will be there for her during tough times. This live version is amazing and well worth watching as well as listening too!

3. The Pogues – Rainy night in Soho

If you are unaware of The Pogues and the songwriting genius of Shane MacGowan, the leader singer, you are about to enter into a rabbit hole of amazing music. The Pogues started out as an Irish punk band in London many years ago and became famous for their on stage energy, Irish folk ballads and Shane MacGowans haunting and beautiful lyrics. This song speaks of an Irish man abroad, in Soho, and recounts meeting a lover. It is simply amazing and one of Ireland’s most famous love songs. The song ends with the loving words…”You’re the measure of my dreams”

 

4. Thin Lizzy – Dancing in the Moonlight

Thin Lizzy are widely known as one of Ireland’s greatest rock exports and there have been recent complaints by bands such as Metallica as to why Thin Lizzy are not in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame yet. Dancing in the Moonlight brings the listener on a journey of a young couple going on a date, and the consequences that follow.

 

5. U2 – The Sweetest Thing

One of my favourite U2 songs. Catchy music and nice lyrics. Bono wrote his song as an apology to his wife Ali as he forgot her birthday. This is also a special music video as it was recorded just around the corner from Champlain College’s Academic Centre in Dublin. All our alumni should easily recognise Fitzwilliam street in the background.

Don’t forget to check out the first edition of my favourite Irish Music and remember you can also find Tony’s Tunes as a playlist on Spotify.

See you next month for our Paddy’s Day special where we will celebrate songs about the Irish diaspora. Wishing you a great Valentines day from Dublin!!

 

To keep up with Champlain Abroad’s programs this semester and beyond, be sure to follow @ChamplainAbroad on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

Tony’s Tunes: A study abroad student’s guide to music in Ireland

Tony Langan Photo by: Logan Hall-Potvin, ’19. (hallpotvinphoto.com)

Tony Langan is from Dromiskin, County Louth, about 40 miles north of Dublin. He has been involved in the study abroad world for the past 7 years, joining Champlain Abroad Dublin for the Spring 2018 semester as the Student Life Manager. Tony enjoys a good live gig, a nice pint of Guinness and showing people the hidden sights and sounds of Dublin!

Below you’ll find a list of some local Irish songs that Tony is listening to at the moment! All these artist’s are Irish, young and there is a very good chance you can catch them live during your study abroad semester in Dublin.

 

 

Fontaines D.C – Liberty Belle

You will hear loads about Fontaines D.C. in the future, if you have not already. They are a young rock/punk band and their debut album, Dogrel, has won countless awards for best album last year. Also as the name suggests Liberty Belle is about the Liberties area where the band studied music at BIMM.

Lankum – Cold Old Fire

Lankum are an amazing traditional Irish music band from Dublin who link modern music with old sounds. This song is about the gentrification of Dublin and looking for it’s ‘beating heart’. They also have an amazing new album out called ‘The Livelong day’ which is well worth checking out.

Junior Brother – You make a fine picture

It took me a long time to get into the unique sound of Junior Brother but once I did I was hooked. Like Lankum this is a folk sound but his unique voice is amazing. This song is from his EP and he also has a terrific new album called pull the wrong rope.

Kojaque – Love and Braggadocio

Kojaque is an amazing rapper from the North side of Dublin. His first album was nominated for album of the year in Ireland. This song is from that album, Deli Daydreams. I love the smooth jazz sounds with hip hop over it.

A Lazarus Soul – Black and Amber

Like most Irish folk songs they are catchy and deal with a difficult subject matter. This song is no different. A Lazarus Soul are a 3 piece from Dublin who write songs about their city and life. Amazing band.

There are SO many more new bands to discuss, never mind the absolute wealth of beautiful music from years gone by. I will be doing a lot more of these so keep an eye out. You can also find Tony’s Tunes as a playlist on Spotify.

To keep up with Champlain Abroad’s programs this semester and beyond, be sure to follow @ChamplainAbroad on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

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Emily Mazzara on her international internship with Books Ireland

By: Emily Mazzara, ’21 // Professional Writing

As part of study abroad with Champlain College, one of the many opportunities you can take advantage of is working an international internship. In the year of 2019 alone, 25 students applied, interviewed, and finessed their way into internships with companies and organisations in Dublin. It’s a huge opportunity that will not only look good on a job application later down the line, but will also teach you many valuable skills. I’ve been asked to share my experiences on what an international internship in Dublin might entail, how it differs from American internships, and some of the projects I have gotten up to.

Where am I working? 

My internship this semester is at Books Ireland, a literary review and news magazine. Books Ireland focuses on publishing all the up-to-date news on Irish published, written, and interest books. The piece of the magazine that makes it unique is the comprehensive list of Irish published and written books called First Flush

Cover of the Books Ireland November/December 2019 issue

What have I been working on? 

I have gotten to participate in and work on a myriad of different projects since I started working for Books Ireland in September. I would list them all here because they have each impacted my experience in a different way, but I’ll stick to the highlights. For the November/December issue of the magazine I had my hand in three different articles. I got to contribute to the first flush by writing short 30 word descriptions of the books that came in from publishers. I wrote an 800 word piece on the fiftieth anniversary of the bookshop and publisher Veritas Bookshop. The piece focused on how the company has changed and evolved over the years. I got to go in and interview the head of marketing for the publishing part of the company in order to write the piece. The last major project I got to work on was writing the copy and doing the design for a book catalogue for Wordwell and Eastwood publishing. Wordwell is the parent company of Books Ireland so I was brought on to do the project for them. 

 

What is the most frustrating part so far?

I have been incredibly lucky and haven’t had very many if any frustrating things happen. I think the biggest frustration I have come across is that I have not been able to attend all of the events that my internship has invited me too. Classes and other things have been keeping me quite busy outside of my allotted internship days. I just wish I had the ability to attend and see everything they have on offer.

 

What’s the biggest difference between and Irish internship and an American one?

The biggest difference that I have noticed is the workload. In an average American internship you will be placed on one or two projects for a three to four month period and that would be all you would do in that time. Here, things get turned over pretty fast, so I have had to speed through a few projects that I wished I had more time to work on. The other big difference is in how the higher-ups interact with the interns. Everyone is much more casual about both their speaking manner and how they ask their employees to do tasks. They will never be as bossy as you can see American bosses be. They are more likely to ask you kindly if you wouldn’t mind doing something “if you have the time” than they ever would be to directly ask you for something to be done. They will also be vague in their directions. The bosses expect you to be able to handle a certain level of work coming into the internship and will not spell things out for you every time. 

 

What have I learned about my career from my internship that I didn’t know before starting?

I have learned a lot of valuable information and skills from my internship so far this semester. The one thing I learned that stood out the most is how to market a book in a crowded market. Wordwell produces beautifully crafted and written books on Irish history, but Irish history is a very crowded market in Ireland. There are many competing publishers how create books in the same genre but with a higher budget. What I have learned through this is how to find and make contact with the niche audience that will be the main buyers of the book you are producing. 

 

Final Thoughts:

I have done nothing but enjoy myself during this internship. I cannot recommend doing an Irish internship enough. Not only will you have the chance to meet some really cool people and make some amazing contacts, you will also have the chance to learn something about how your future industry runs halfway around the world. 

 

To keep up with Champlain Abroad’s programs this semester and beyond, be sure to follow @ChamplainAbroad on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

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Reflections at the Halfway Point: Studying Abroad in Dublin

BY PATRICK DAVIN ’21 // PROFESSIONAL WRITING, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

I have now been living in Dublin for roughly two months. In these two months I have learned and grown as a person so much. It’s mind boggling how much you can change in such a short amount of time. While change can be scary, it’s necessary and good. 

Before study abroad

Everyone has ideas of what living abroad will be like, but you never truly know until it happens. I knew that I would be living with a few friends. I knew that I would have to really work at budgeting (a task harder than you think), and I knew that I would be facing a totally new culture. But I did not know how I would adjust. And, of course, the anxiety that comes with finally becoming fully independent was welling up inside my mind. I had never truly shopped for myself and prepared meals. Don’t get me wrong, I can cook food that’ll knock your socks off, but I had never really done that every day. When I’m home in the summer I work at a job that gives me meals. When I’m back at Champlain, I have IDX in all of its glory (or infamy, depending on your view). 

I was anxious about shopping and cooking. I was anxious about going to places by myself. I was also anxious about being away from my family. How would I know where to go? How would I get there? How will I fill up my free time? What if I don’t like any of the food? What happens when I meet new people? Will I be awkward and anxious, or cool and calm? Anxieties abounded, but luckily they melted away after I arrived. 

The Halfway Point

In the beginning, I would use Google Maps to make sure I was walking the correct way  to school. But now I confidently stroll, headphones in, to school without an issue. I could do it with my eyes closed. Shopping and cooking by yourself  isn’t so scary after all. In fact, it’s kind of fun. I’ve also made some great friends here. Like I said, my original anxieties have melted away. While I miss my family, I’m excited to see them soon when they visit for fall break. I’m confident now. I don’t mind going to the store or the park or school alone. And in regards to my free time, it’s filled up with potluck dinners, Lord of the Rings marathons (drinking game included), clubs, pubs, lots of homework (of course), traveling to other countries, and much, much more. 

How Game of Thrones should have ended. On tour in Northern Ireland you get to visit the village of Ballintoy, where many scenes in the series where filmed.

Speaking of traveling to other countries, that was my main goal while abroad. I wanted to visit as many places as I could.  I visited Barcelona over a four day weekend. It was phenomenal, but a bit nerve wracking navigating another strange city. I have trips planned for Milan in Italy and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I’m counting down the days until both! I’ve also explored a great chunk of Ireland, but there’s still much more to see here. I plan on exploring it with my family when they arrive soon.

Barcelona stretching out before me.

While life is filled with many what ifs and anxieties, you have to keep moving forward. Every second is filled with a possible learning moment. Seize any opportunity that comes your way, and always face a challenge head on. I’ve grown a lot while I’ve been here for two short months, but I know I have more growth coming.  I’m looking forward to exploring what else this great world has to offer, while continuing to learn and grow at the same time. 

To keep up with Champlain Abroad’s programs this semester and beyond, be sure to follow @ChamplainAbroad on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram

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