Category Archives: Advice

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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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


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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.


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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!

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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!

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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.

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD!

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