Category Archives: Global Citizen

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

A time to reflect: EHS placement Dublin

BY blair thompson’18, psychology, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Working at Island Key’s Co-operative Childcare in the Docklands

Blair Thompson - Champlain Abroad DublinAs a psychology major, I’m part of Champlain College’s EHS division. Dublin’s EHS course for this semester of junior year entailed getting a placement as a volunteer in a workplace that relates to our soon-to-be bachelors degree. I started working every Wednesday at the Island Key’s co-operative childcare program. This program is part of a government organization for subsidized housing, for people and families of low income. Many of the people living there are actually immigrants from places like Lithuania and Poland, although many are still local Irish who have lived in the Docklands their whole life. The Docklands used to be a working class neighborhood where many manual laborers were employed working on the docks, hence the name of the district.

There was a period of industrialization that started replacing workers with machines which could get the job done faster. These workers became unemployed, thus turning the Docklands into a rather rough neighborhood, full of unemployed people who could no longer afford homes, and the school dropout rates rapidly increased. Any time I mentioned to an Irish person that I worked in the Docklands, I got the same uneasy reaction. I remember specifically one taxi driver telling me how it’s getting better now (due to these government organizations like affordable housing and childcare), but a few years back if you were an outsider walking down the street, “you’d find yourself naked before you even knew what happened”. The taxi driver was inferring by this that the people who lived there had a reputation for being really tough, and would steal literally everything from you, even your shoes….although the naked part was definitely an exaggeration.

I grew so much from working at my placement for the whole four months of my semester in Dublin. Let’s just start with the fact that it was an hour walk to work from the apartments, and an hour and a half walk from school. I had no choice but to take the dreaded and slightly feared public bus. I don’t know if anyone can relate, but back home in Connecticut any time I took the public bus it would end up turning into a fiasco. Whether it was going to different stops than I expected, resulting in me getting very very lost…in the rain. Or maybe anyone, male or female, can relate to some pretty creepy bus riders that try to start weird conversations and follow you off the bus. Let’s also not forget the grandpa-aged men asking for your phone number. So I was really stressed about how the heck I was going to make it to work every week. I many times would walk (note to future volunteers: never forget your umbrella), which

I actually really enjoyed because passing familiar faces and coffee shops after a while of the same routine became quite endearing and sweet. It was kind of a homey feeling, when I would pass business men and women living completely different lives, but still sharing a slice of our lives in common. After a while of recognizing one another, we would give each other a friendly nod, which is just one of those “it’s the little things” moments that makes me happy. Also as a side note, adopting some of the Irish ways while abroad can totally make one gain some weight, so that little time of exercise really pays off. Exercising also produces happy hormones, like dopamine, which is a nice way to de-stress.

So, after the first few work days I got in the routine of getting to work without getting lost. I even became confident enough to take the bus when I felt like it, which turned out to be a completely positive experience. Shockingly enough the bus routes turned out to really not be that complicated after all. If you can look at the bus route diagram while simultaneously finding those stops on your google maps, you’re good to go.
Now that half the battle of getting there was checked off the to-do list, It was time to finally start work. I was put in the classroom with the toddlers, where they can always use an extra hand. One minute you see them, the next they’re in corner…covering themselves with paint or something similarly inconvenient. About half of the toddlers first language was not english, even though they were just developing speech. This was interesting from a psychological perspective to observe how they found ways to work around the language barriers in order to communicate what they wanted or understand what we were saying to them. One really cute little boy in my classroom was from Romania and I watched him learn two languages at once. After being with the toddlers for a bit, I decided I wanted to try working with the older kids. I’ve worked as a pre-school teacher for younger ages before in previous jobs back in America, so wanted to try something new and get out of my comfort zone a little bit.

I started working from 1:30 in the afternoon, to 5:30, and i’m totally guilty of waking up right before then on those days. The kids were ages 6 to 9 and some parts of being a teacher in that classroom were actually more difficult than being with the toddlers. The kids and I spoke the same language, English…but it didn’t really feel that way at all. The Irish accent is so strong that sometimes I couldn’t even understand what they were saying, let alone the slang made things impossible. Slowly but surely I got used to the different words and phrases they used, and could finally understand them. They definitely thought I was an idiot from time to time when I couldn’t understand things they thought were so simple. I remember helping them with their homework and one little girl asking me how to spell something. I told her the American spelling but she was used to the British way, and she realized it was “wrong”. She definitely didn’t ask me for help on her homework for a while after that. Eventually she came around, but she had me prove my intelligence first! (P.s. A tip for any education majors coming over: they call a period “.” a full stop). Continue reading

Traveling Alone: From Nervous Novice to Poised Professional

By: Amanda Hollywood, ’17 // Public Relations

It’s coming down to the last few weeks of our semester abroad, meaning we’re all frantically trying to squeeze in as much traveling as we can and check a few more things off our bucket lists before finals hit. It’s an interesting time because by now we’ve all gotten pretty close and are accustomed to always having someone around. At the same time, with funds and time running out, we all have certain ‘Must Do’s in mind for ourselves- and those goals don’t always align with our friend’s. That is how I found myself booking a weekend on my own to the Dingle peninsula, the most western point in Ireland.

My roommates had all planned to go to Barcelona together, but I found myself less than eager to join them. I’m not a fan of hot weather- I call Burlington and Dublin home, after all!- I don’t speak Spanish, and I can’t spend more than five minutes in the sun without being burnt to a crisp. On the other hand, Dingle seemed to be calling my name, having grown up on the stories of the time my dad had spent there when he was my age. It was really hard to decide to go on my own rather than sticking with my friends, but I only had the money for about one more trip and I knew I had to see Dingle if I wanted to leave Ireland with no regrets.

So in true American fashion I set off for the West early on Friday morning, my roommates having already flown out to Barcelona the night before. It’s no easy task getting to Dingle: it took two trains and a bus, totaling about five hours travel, and I was worried about navigating so much transportation on my own. I booked my hostel before I started figuring out how to actually get there, and thank goodness I did or I might’ve backed out. It can be intimidating, navigating train stations and bus routes on your own, especially with no phone to easily look up any information needed on the spot. But the hostel was booked so I had to get there no matter what, and with some careful planning and navigation, I did.

The journey was totally worth it, by the way

The journey was totally worth it, by the way

I had stayed in hostels before on the Western Ireland trip which I was really thankful for, but even so, this was a new experience. I was in a mixed gender room with six beds, and I had been trying to reassure myself that just because it was labeled mixed and had six beds didn’t necessarily mean that six men and women would be there during my stay. However, when I walked into the room, it became quickly obvious that I was indeed getting the last bunk in a room full of men and women. That made me pretty nervous at first, and to make myself feel a little better, I ended up keeping my bag up on my bed with me when I slept at night. My hostel was definitely plenty secure, and I never felt that I was in any danger or a sketchy situation, but even so I was on my own and had to look out for myself. Little things like not leaving your phone out charging somewhere unattended or counting your money out in the open are just little actions that can help you feel more secure and guarded when you’re on your own. Continue reading

Dublin became my home away from home

By: dylan helstien, ’17 // Professional writing

For my entire junior year at Champlain College I was able to study in Dublin with Champlain Abroad. There were three weeks between semesters, which I spent backpacking through Italy. When I arrived back in Dublin I had the unique opportunity to see Dublin in a whole new light, different from those who arrive in Dublin the first weekend of orientation and even those who come back after spending a weekend in another European city.

Spending three weeks in a different foreign country, one where the spoken language isn’t English, showed me the real Dublin. The one I easily looked over my first semester. It’s similar to forgetting how great your hometown is. That is, until you leave it. See, when you live somewhere long enough, you become so accustomed to a routine you don’t even notice it’s a routine anymore. When you leave that routine it’s only when you come back to that routine that you realize how much you missed it.

Run in the Dark

Running a charity race through the streets of Dublin with your Champlain Abroad friends.

That’s what happened with Dublin and I. Dublin became my home away from home away from home, seeing as Burlington is my other home away from home. My actual home being Southern California.

I didn’t realize what I was missing until I actually missed it. The funny thing is everyone wanted to know how Italy was, and while, yes, it was amazing, I wanted to talk to everyone about Dublin. So let me tell you all about it.

Cobblestone Dublin

Cobblestone Streets in Dublin. Photo Credit: Dylan Helstien

Dublin is quirky and I missed it so much. The sound of horse hooves on cobblestone are a permanent subtle soundtrack and are a welcome reminder that you are no longer on American pavement. Just as crossing any street becomes a game of Frogger, seeing as no Dubliner actually waits for the crosswalk to turn green, which at first was intimidating but soon becomes a right of passage. Continue reading

P. S. I'll Miss You

Until we meet again, Dublin, I’ll be longing to return. But the memories, shaped over one hundred and seventeen days spent in the company of you and your European neighbors, will be savored for eternity. So thank you, first, for giving me only so much time.
I’ve always been aware of making each moment count; but with only so many moments allotted for me this time around, I was busier and am more satisfied with what I’ve done. Thinking back to the first few weeks of studying with Champlain Abroad Dublin, I’m often surprised to recount a trip to Cork with new friends, a jump into the Irish Sea, dinner in a refurbished church, and a ride through Phoenix Park, feeding deer. Small moments in class, and larger weekend journeys, have been fitted into every corner of my mind and collectively have formed an experience that I never realized could be so full. There is no room for me to regret not having done something. Are there things I’d still like to see? Of course. Doesn’t that just mean I’ll have to come back for you, Dublin?

Champlain Abroad Dublin students at Ballintoy Harbour in Northern Ireland

Champlain Abroad students at Ballintoy Harbor in Northern Ireland

You gave me the chance to create new, meaningful relationships, for which I will always be grateful. I joined this program knowing that I was the only student outside of Champlain College to attend this semester. A slight panic seized me the closer that my time to leave came. To me, it felt like freshman year of college, having to find my place. But I found that I blended into the group effortlessly, everyone welcoming me with open arms. Still, friends here have said that they forget I won’t be with them at school next semester. I’ve only known my forty three peers for four months, but you could tell me that I’ve known them for five years and I would believe you more. Champlain Abroad Dublin boasts a small and intimate group, and I’m proud to call myself an honorary Champlain-er. I’ve felt torn between worlds, missing my friends at Emerson while loving my new friendships. Next semester, I’ll be torn in the opposite way… But now, I have the chance to visit Burlington. And I will have times to relay to friends in Boston, while strengthening the friendships I’ve established here. Continue reading

5 Ways Studying Abroad Changed My Life

As I am writing this, I am approaching finals week and my last week studying abroad in Dublin with Champlain Abroad, which is, as cliché as it sounds, a bittersweet feeling. I miss my family and my boyfriend back home in the US, but at the same time, I know I will miss Dublin and the life I have come to know here when I am back home.

I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my experiences over the past few weeks and I always seem to circle back to ways in which I am not the same person that I was when I arrived 4 months ago. Here are just 5 of the many ways studying abroad in Dublin has changed me.

Ready to study abroad in Dublin with Champlain Abroad

Amanda Girard, Professional Writing Major, ready to leave for a semester in Dublin with Champlain Abroad.

1.) Growing More Independent By Living on My Own
Before coming to Dublin, I had only lived either with my parents or in Champlain College’s campus housing in Burlington, Vermont. I had never had the experience of living with roommates in an apartment, and certainly not living in the middle of a city. To be honest, I was nervous to see if I could succeed in living on my own but now that I’m at the end of my semester, I’m realizing that it wasn’t so hard. Living in Champlain Abroad Dublin’s urban, independent student apartments was a great middle ground between living at home and living on my own in an apartment, mostly because we had a great cleaning staff who cleaned our apartment every week. I also had two great roommates, Emmalee and Michelle, who made living together totally stress-free, which always helps. Going back home, knowing that I have accomplished living on my own in another country, gives me a huge confidence boost that I can live on my own in the US when I return. Continue reading

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Studying Abroad in Dublin

Oh, how the end of a semester has inexplicably come once again! It’s hard to believe that this is my last blog post for Champlain Abroad Dublin or that I head back home in less than two weeks. It seems like just yesterday  I was asking everyone I knew what to pack or expect. No matter how many different people you ask or how much you prepare, there’s still things you’ll never know until you’re across the pond and experience them yourself.

Champlain Abroad Dublin Campus Building

Sarah Steward, Communications Major, studying abroad in Dublin with Champlain Abroad Dublin.

In the blink of an eye, I went from being an apprehensive American student to feeling like a true Dub.  Here’s a list of things I wish I knew before studying abroad in Dublin:

1. You will walk quite a way to school…and you will break a sweat

Champlain College students  know that in Burlington, Vermont  getting anywhere on campus takes 5 minutes or less. Here in the Emerald Isle, that’s not the case. In the beginning of the semester, you’ll feel like your 30-minute commute is daunting, never-ending and extremely sweaty. For some reason, every student starts to break a sweat somewhere between Kevin Street and Leeson Street Lower. While none of us can explain this phenomenon, we all agree that our commute allows us to pass so many beautiful buildings, fellow commuters, and delicious coffee shops by simply going to class. (There’s always something interesting to look at!) When you reach Champlain Abroad Dublin’s academic center, you are greeted by an authentic Georgian door. I don’t know; something about it makes me feel like I’m at home rather than at school. In fact, that’s something that isn’t shared enough- the academic center is home! Continue reading

Urban Expression – Innovative Cultural Immersion

Imagine walking into your first day of class, in a new country and your professor tells you that in just 14 quick weeks you’ll be putting on an event in Dublin. That’s exactly what happened to me and my fellow classmates. Fast forward to the end of November and we can now reflect on that same task and proudly say, “we did it!”

This semester, Champlain Abroad Dublin‘s Creative Dublin class was given the daunting- yet delightful- challenge of putting together an arts event from start to finish. This project was undoubtedly, one of the most in-depth and hands-on projects any of us have ever done at Champlain College thus far. During one of our first classes we split into two groups. Each group talked about what their ideal event would look like. Then, we came together as one and discussed how to combine all of our ideas into one seamless event. After that, we hit the ground running.

Urban Expression

We decided we wanted slam poetry, music and an art gallery. To effectively achieve this, we came up with the idea of Urban Expression;  a one-night event that highlighted the paths we have taken to get to where we are today. Through photography, visual art, slam poetry and music our aim was to show that each individual is on a unique journey. We made sure the event was free and filled with  both American and Irish artists and fellow Champlain students. We even managed to snag one of Dublin’s biggest graffiti artists to do a live piece. Continue reading

Exploring Ireland's History

One of the classes that I have been taking during my semester abroad with Champlain Abroad Dublin is called Early Irish History, taught by archaeologist Naill Colfer. We’ve been exploring Ireland’s past all semester and recently took a trip to the Irish National Heritage Park in Wexford. Here we actually got the chance to see reconstructions of many of the things we’ve discussed in class!

The first thing we got to see on the tour was a Mesolithic house, used when people first came to Ireland, around 8000 BC, and lived as hunters and gatherers. Later on, the people adopted the practice of farming during the Neolithic era. We got to see examples of these sorts of houses as well and a reconstruction of a tomb from the time. When I visited the Burren in the west of Ireland I got to see an actual tomb from this period too!

Neolithic tomb at the Irish National Heritage Park

Poulnabrone dolmen is a portal tomb in the Burren, County Clare, Ireland

Continue reading

Cultural Immersion through Volunteerism

Dublin is a city brimming with opportunity; and upholding Champlain Abroad’s motto to explore, immerse, and engage has proven easy and rewarding. Within one month of arriving, I was making my way to class without a worry about how to get there, being asked for directions, and claiming little corners of the city as my own. There is a familiarity to this place, and the feel of locality has made itself immortal. It goes beyond the trad sessions in pubs and classroom or group excursions; it reaches into volunteerism, as well.

I haven’t volunteered steadily anywhere since high school, but Champlain Abroad makes the chance to do so more than available and the staff are wonderful in helping students find the place for them. And there are a host of places that Champlain has worked with in the past, but there is also room to research organizations in the area! From the beginning, when looking at the list of programs Champlain suggested on the post-acceptance application, I was interested in spending a couple of hours a week at Fighting Words—and it couldn’t have been a better decision on my part to sign up.
So far, I have volunteered at three Fighting Words sessions, already looking forward to the others that lie in store for me. Co-founded by Irish author Roddy Doyle and Seán Love, Fighting Words offers free creative writing tutoring and workshops to children and young adults. They often host events in the center as well as around Ireland, and have specific times set up each day for primary and secondary school students to come in and write. On Monday afternoons, high school students from literally all over the country come for two hours, and as volunteers we sit with a group and act as a set of eyes and ears that isn’t a teacher or other authority figure.

fighting words Continue reading