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
By Rachael Elmy, ’19 // Professional Writing, Champlain College
A trip outside the classroom is always exciting, especially in a city like Dublin! Nicole Rourke’s 9.00am Writing in the City class is no stranger to these little trips. Many of us had just gotten back from Spring Break and were in no mood to sit down and listen to a lecture. We still wanted to get up and explore, and of course, Writing in the City let us do that. Even though it wasn’t a huge outing, it was still pretty cool.
We took a trip to the Little Museum of Dublin, about a ten minute walk from Champlain Abroad’s Academic Center through St. Stephen’s Green. The museum certainly was little. It used to be a Georgian house, but now, it is filled with artifacts donated by the people of Dublin. These artifacts included items from the 1916 Rising to U2 memorabilia.
The great thing was, I could touch almost all of this, especially in the self-guided part of the tour. I’m one of those people who will touch things even if there is a big fat sign saying I shouldn’t. I loved the fact that I could sit in a big spherical chair inside the U2 room or play with an old typewriter in a mock journalism office. You could even sit at a small student’s desk and color if you wanted.
The first part of the tour had a guide, and you did the second part on your own (this would be the part with the big spherical chair and coloring). When we arrived, we wandered through this room full of some of the wildest fashion I had ever seen, all created by Irish designers. Some of us played a game of who would wear what (apparently, I would wear a skirt with pink and green patching) and others just read about the designers on the walls. I personally appreciated this part because I love fashion and I wondered why fashion history overlooked these designers. They were so talented!
After admiring the clothes, our tour began. The guide took us on a visual journey of Dublin through the decades, from around the early 1900s until now. It didn’t feel like a lecture or a history lesson. He was telling us about the saga of Dublin. Even the self-guided parts presented side stories in the overall epic that is Ireland. Dublin is basically on this one continuous journey that started all the way back in 1916, and its story isn’t finished yet. In many ways, Ireland is a lot like the United States. We both had a fairly recent independence, we both have what we consider Founding Fathers and Mothers, and we are both proud of our national identities, down to the littlest detail.
We asked Chelsea Blount, ’19, Psychology major at Champlain College, to tell us a little about her experience taking the Media Psychology (PSY 360) course last semester. The course is newly added to the Champlain Abroad Dublin’s course listings and is taught by Lauren Christophers, a Media Psychologist with the University College Dublin’s School of Psychology. Please see below for a full biography.
Have you ever watched a television show, a movie, read a book, or even listened to a song and suddenly you are one with the media? Identification and transportation are just two of the theories we learned, as to how and why this happens. Curious about how and why you emotionally respond to the media you engage with? We learned that as well. Mirror neurons have a role in that answer along with James Lange Theory (Emotions occur after arousal), Cannon Bard Theory (Arousal and emotion occur simultaneously), and Schachter Singer Theory (Both physiological arousal and a cognitive label determine the emotion experienced).
You may be unfamiliar with these theories but you will feel comfortable with them by the end of the course. Media is a constantly evolving sphere and the psychology behind it is also constantly evolving with it.
There are some fundamental theories to be learned but the class will adjust and evolve with social issues and hot topics of the day. We discussed the effects of media along with the role and importance of minority or marginalized groups in media. For example, women, members of the LGBTQA+ community, people of the Black community, the Latin community, and the Asian community. We discussed sensory overload, clickbait, alternative facts, and even fake news. You learn so much in this class it is difficult to put into a little blurb. You will take many classes in your lifetime…this should be one of them. Continue reading
BY ELLEN OPPENHEIM, ’19 // PROFESSIONAL WRITING, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE
Every Monday morning I hear a group of six to nine-year-olds yelling something like this to the lazy security guard across the street. It’s there own concoction of words that create a personal password to open the magical door that grants them access to a wonderland where they write their very own published stories. It sounds like every child’s fantasy, something that kids can dream about while boring themselves to death in math class or spelling, but it comes to life at Dublin’s very own Fighting Words.
Fighting Words is a nonprofit organization that brings school groups in to write their very own personal stories. Here the students gather together, and develop a story as a group, and then create their own endings and illustrations on their own. It sounds cliche, but it’s as magical an experience for the volunteers as it is the students.
This isn’t one of those things that I do because it looks good on a resume. Sure, it started as that, but what it morphed into, is this insanely beautiful experience where I get to immerse myself in the culture of Dublin, see the key differences between the youth of America and Ireland, and observe in amazement at how talented children really are, as long as you know how to pull those ideas out of them. Sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get the children to realize their potential, to show them that there is more to creativity than what they saw online that morning, but the experience is something that is unrivaled by anything else.
In a quiet nook of Northern Dublin, the majestic Fighting Words center lives. The program is beautifully organized, starting with kids gathering in the meeting area to get name tags and get their “about the author” pictures taken. They are then greeted by the volunteer who is in charge of the “magic door” for the day. This person is responsible for helping the kids come up with a password that will turn the magic door around (it’s a bookshelf that rotates, the kids are always trying to debunk it but we try our best). Once they develop the password, which is three original words that the students pick, like “Purple, Ice Cream, Donuts,” they have to gather at the window (so they don’t see said volunteer unhinge the rotating bookshelf) and yell to the “security guard” across the street to open the door. 90% of the time the kids are absolutely amazed. They then take their seats in the beautiful writing center, which is filled with bookshelves overflowing with literature and an art studio where the kids can draw. There they are greeted by their storyteller for the day. As if the kids didn’t have enough motivation to take home their own book as it is, they are introduced to the evil editor Mr. Mahonkey.
Mr. Monhonkey never speaks to the kids, because he thinks they are just a bunch of “babies” that can’t write stories. He speaks to them from behind a wall, and tells them that he doesn’t think that they can do it, tells them that they smell bad and that he would NEVER publish a story written by a bunch of secondary schoolers. Negative reinforcement at its finest. The kids roar with outrage that anyone could ever have the audacity to tell them that they cant do something. It always sparks something in them, a divine interest in proving the grown-ups wrong. After that, it’s up to the storyteller to guide them through the creative process. Sorting through the children who are starving for attention, pulling muscles in their arms because they raise their hands with such ferocity with sparking ideas and the quiet kids who are too embarrassed to share their ideas. There’s the art of getting the shy kids to share, yet when they do, they always seem to dazzle the class with their unique and quiet ideas. In the corner, a volunteer illustrated puts there words into stunning pictures, making the kids see there creations come to life.
The idea that these kids come up with are absolutely stunning. It takes a good thirty minutes to steer them away from writing about their favorite Pokemon or YouTube stars (seriously, what is with the youth today and wanting to be youtube stars?) but after that painful time, they dust off the cobwebs of the original parts of their brains and come up with things that adults wouldn’t be able to dream of. The other day, as a group, we wrote a story about Jack the three-legged ghost cow. Jack had a best friend who was a Pig with a ghost tail, and together they were teaming up to build a robotic leg for Jack so that he could be a four-legged ghost cow. Ironically, Jack the Ghosts cows biggest fear was flying, and he’s a ghost! It’s a brilliant idea, with conflict, dialogue, intriguing characters and it’s their very own. As volunteers we act as guides, helping them cross their t’s and dot their i’s. After an hour of contracting the first half of the story, we split up into small groups of two or three, and we help them either finish the story, illustrate the story on their own, or write their own ideas down. It doesn’t matter what they do, as long as they are creative, and now that we have spent an hour exercising those creative muscles, they are aching to make something of their own.
It’s an insanely rewarding experience, watching these kids come in with a sense of wonder, and leaving with the confidence and awe that they just created something. There VERY OWN book.
Throughout the process there are questions of “will we see Mr. Makonkey,” “do you think he will publish our book,” “Mr. Makonkey seems like the worst,” and the occasional, “why do you have a funny American accent.” They are in a complete state of excitement and wonder as we chug along through the two-hour process, but as we go along you see the confidence building in there own original ideas and thoughts. The sheer pleasure of proving an editor wrong. It breaks them out of their shell and makes them realize their potential. Gone are the cliches of YouTubers, and Pokemon, what is left is a brilliant three-legged ghost cow on his way to getting a new leg. Continue reading
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.