Category Archives: Advice

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 old. My first time on a transatlantic flight was the summer of 2019, heading to China for an international internship experience through the Freeman Foundation Grant at Champlain College.

I’m really lucky not to have only one, but two abroad opportunities in my college career so far. When I arrived in Ireland in early January of 2020, I had a list of countries I wanted to see since I would be living in Europe for four months. I booked trips to Milan, London, Berlin, Budapest, Amsterdam, Prague, Mallorca, and Vienna. I also immediately made friends from all around the globe in our living accommodation, and we quickly became a little family.

Exploring with friends

My whole world was turned upside down on March 12th. I woke up to a call from our Student Life Manager telling me not to get on my flight to Amsterdam that night. After I hung up I noticed three emails, one from Champlain’s home campus in Vermont, and two from our Champlain Abroad Dublin Program Director. I immediately started crying.  The emails didn’t say it, but I knew we were being sent home. I called both my parents, and explained to them through the tears that I wasn’t going on my spring break, and that I would probably be booking a flight home that same day. I started looking at my list of trips with a broken heart – I had only made it to Milan. I started canceling flights, hostel accommodations, and requesting refunds. I had spiraled into a panic adding up the cost of everything I was not able to do.  I had a trip to Mallorca, Spain booked for the first week of May which would mark my last week in Europe; I kept it booked hoping I would be able to travel then.

We were called to a Spring 2020 group meeting that day where Champlain Abroad staff announced we were going home. It was one of the most emotionally tense rooms I have ever been in. The following weekend was probably one of my best weekends in Dublin. I said yes to everything, and I spent my last hours with my international friends.

Rainbow in Dublin, seen from Champlain College’s Academic Centre.

Upon my arrival home to the US, I was still very sad and angry at the universe. Adjusting to home after being abroad is always difficult, and this time was no exception. It was then that I decided I had no more tears left to cry about my experience, so I made a list. I listed out every accomplishment I had made during my study abroad time:

  • Interned at ParkPnP, an Irish Tech Company
  • Adjusted to Irish professors 
  • Learned how to live with SEVEN people, and still get along
  • Got my nose pierced
  • Became apart of my local Dublin community, The Liberties
  • Cooked my heart out, and loved every minute of it
  • Attended an International Women’s Day event at the Facebook European headquarters
  • Walked everywhere, and made a mental map of Dublin
  • Made life-long friends from all around the world
  • Went on an amazing trips to Northern Ireland and Milan
  • Went to all of Tony’s 5 euro dinners and other Student Life Events (they were all great)
  • Left of piece of me in Dublin 
Enjoying a night out in Dublin with friends
International Women’s Day event at the Facebook HQ

Making this list has really helped me appreciate everything I got the opportunity to do. It wasn’t until I started my remote classes that I really got into a routine that allowed me to start looking forward. There are lots of blessings in disguise that come with working from home. I started working out to get myself back on track, and I have never felt better. I am the oldest of five children, and it is the longest period of time we have all been home together in a very long time. We have already made lots of great family isolation memories. As far as school goes, we still work with the same Irish professors we had before; it’s just a different platform. This has allowed me to have more time to reflect on the material we are learning because there are a lot fewer distractions (like watching How I Met Your Mother with your roommates WHILE you do your work). I feel like I have connected more with my professors now too because we are all working to engage with the online platform since we aren’t in Dublin anymore plus we are all going through this global pandemic together. 

There are some big life lessons that I have learned from being abroad during a global pandemic. (Most of these are cliches that I realized are so true)

Life doesn’t just happen to you. I have tried my best to find the positives of life in isolation. It gives you a great excuse to get those things done that you will “get to eventually.”

Patience is a virtue. We all are waiting around at home, we all are experiencing grief, we all are adjusting, and each of us is going to handle that differently. Being patient with change, people, and ourselves comes in handy right now.

Change can be a beautiful thing. I have experienced so much change since January, and I am a better person because of it. I moved to a foreign country, I made new friends, I adjusted to new teaching styles, I worked in an Irish workplace, I made myself a new home abroad, I had to cancel my travel plans, and I had to move home unexpectedly.

All those things mean that I now have an even bigger motivation to make my way back to Europe, and it has pushed me to realize that I want to keep traveling for the rest of my life. It also has given me even more tolerance for change and difference. My semester abroad didn’t go as planned, but I will still hold it close to my heart. 

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. 

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

FYI: Five Things No One Tells You About Studying Abroad in Dublin

Living in the Liberties. Photo Credit: Miranda Rodriguez ’21 // Champlain College

Miranda Rodriguez, ‘21 // creative media, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Studying abroad is great way to get in touch with your sense of adventure, to gain some independence, to meet new people, and to experience an entirely new way of life. Whether you’re leaving next semester or your semester abroad is still just an idea, here are five things I didn’t know about studying abroad in Dublin till I got here. 

  1. Don’t be intimidated by your new neighbors

Locals in Dublin are some of the nicest people you’ll meet. Speaking to new people can be intimidating, but especially in Ireland the locals are absolutely down to hang out with you. Don’t stress out about it too much; talking to locals is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a totally new culture as quickly as possible.

2. Cash is more important than you’d think

Especially since buying local is the best way to maximize spending money for groceries, having cash on hand rather than just bringing a card will be way more helpful when you’re running errands. Smaller street vendors are more likely to only take cash, so make sure you always have a few extra bucks on your person just in case.

3. Eating local and eating healthy is way easier outside of the States

As stated in the previous reason, the best way to maximize your spending abroad is to visit local vendors. Especially here in Ireland, though, all of the food in local butcher shops and produce stores are totally organic. Buying a pound of meat and some vegetables to last you the week won’t cost you more than ten euro here, and if you get creative there’s no end to what dishes you can make.

4. Travelling to mainland Europe is not very expensive (if you play your cards right!)

Paying attention to peak and off-season times to travel is of course part of the equation, but ultimately websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights can help you in booking a real cheap trip to places in mainland Europe for a weekend getaway or even for longer breaks in the semester.

5. It might sound cliche, but you’ll have the time of your life.

No amount of hype by Champlain Abroad alumni could’ve prepared me for the amount of fun I’ve had in only my first two weeks here. Dublin is an incredible and magical place, filled with things to do and history to discover. If you let yourself, you’ll definitely have the absolute best time.

Up The Dubs! Don’t be intimidated by your new neighbors. Photo Credit: Miranda Rodriguez ’21 // Champlain College

Regardless of where you end up, studying abroad is going to change your life in the best way. The first two weeks you spend abroad is when you’ll be learning the most about the place you’re in, the people in your neighborhood, and the life you’ll lead for the remainder of the semester. 

 

Connect with Miranda over Instagram and Twitter at @inlustris__ to watch her semester in Dublin!

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


Continue reading

Get Your Greens!

Margot Nelson, ‘20 // Professional Writing, Champlain College

Having never lived in a city before studying abroad in Dublin, I didn’t know what to expect. For the most part, I can definitely understand why people love city life: there’s always something to do, you can walk or take the bus pretty much everywhere, and there’s a lot of great curry and chip shops around. But there were still times this semester when I felt overwhelmed with city life. The noise, the smells, the constant hustle and bustle were new to me and it can definitely be a lot to take in if you’ve never experienced it before. Luckily, Dublin does a good job of maintaining some natural spaces within the city. If you ever need a breath of fresh air, a quick escape from the noise, or just a nice spot to sit and read a book outside, here are a few of my favorite green spaces in Dublin.

St. Stephen’s Green. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

St. Stephen’s Green. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

St. Stephen’s Green. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

This first stop is one that all Champlain Dublin students are familiar with because it’s 5 minutes from the Academic Center. St. Stephen’s Green is a historical park in the center of Dublin, right between Grafton and Leeson Street. It is home to seagulls, pigeons, swans, and ducks that live in the ponds. On sunny days, college students and business people alike gather in the park to stretch their legs or toss around a frisbee. I recommend going to Burritos & Blues, getting a burrito with your student discount (make sure to have your student ID!), and sitting in the park for lunch.

Iveagh Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

Iveagh Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

Iveagh Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

Another park close to the Academic Center is the Iveagh Gardens. Enclosed in brick walls and dotted with statues, the Iveagh Gardens is a lot quieter than St. Stephen’s Green. It’s the perfect place to sit and relax, or to wander along the gravel paths. See what you can find: a statue hidden in the ivy, a mystical archway, or a fairy door on a tree trunk (I still haven’t found it, but I’ve been told it’s there). If you’re in the Writing the City course, you will come here as a class for inspiration so it’s definitely worth it to poke around and explore.

National Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

National Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

National Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

If you have more time to spare, I cannot recommend the National Botanic Gardens enough. It’s about a 30 minute bus ride away from where you’ll be living in Dublin, and the entrance is free. For the colder months, there are greenhouses packed with exotic flowers and trees. There’s a rose garden and a whole section of one of the greenhouses dedicated to foods from around the world. If the weather is nicer you can take a walk through the sprawling grounds. There are creeks and flower beds, groves of pines and rhododendrons, and interesting plants at every turn. I went there on one of the most beautiful sunny days of the semester, and it was so relaxing and enjoyable to stroll through the trees until I found a spot to read my book and have a picnic. There were a lot of people when I went, but it still felt like an oasis from the city. This is one of my absolute favorite spots in Dublin, and I highly suggest you spend an afternoon there. They even offer some inexpensive events and exhibitions if you’re interested in that!

Studying abroad in Dublin was my first time living in a big city, and it was such a valuable experience. I learned how to use the public transportation system, how to navigate the city without a map, and how to do things on my own. But I also learned that spending time in nature is very important to me, and that sometimes I just needed a walk through the park to clear my head. I know a lot of people are the same way, especially those of us who have never lived in a proper city. The great thing about Dublin is that whether you need a quick break between classes or a whole afternoon, there’s always somewhere you can go and get your nature fix.


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

The Girl Who Comes in Lost But Leaves Being Found

BY SAMANTHA MCLAUGHLIN, ’19 // MARKETING, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Dear Iveagh Gardens,

Thank you for your silence,
Thank you for your grass,
Thank you for your trees,
Thank you for the peace that you bring to me.
Thank you for your birds,
And even for your bees,
I don’t know, why but for some reason this brings happiness.
Maybe it’s because, regardless of my thoughts,
I always leave with the feeling of glee.
So thank you for the escape,
Because without that,
I would lose a part of me.

With Appreciation,
The Girl Who Comes in Lost But Leaves Being Found

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD!

Continue reading

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