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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
Before I made my way across the pond, Netflix and I were attached at the hip. Seriously. I snuggled up next to my laptop after work and watched shows into the wee hours of the morning. If we’re being honest, Netflix and I still make time for each other- somewhere nestled between classes, making dinner and going to Champlain Abroad Dublin events.
Like many students, Orange is the New Black is at the top of my ‘Recently Watched’ list and there’s one episode in particular that still sticks in my mind. Without getting into too much detail, the show’s main character, Piper, reminisces on a phrase her grandmother used to say to her growing up.
“Go out and eat the world, Piper”
I think I may have taken this ideal quite literally.
Mocha and scone from Foam Cafe. Coffee is definitely a weakness!
My semester with Champlain Abroad Dublin is rapidly coming to an end. It has gone by way too fast and I’ve had such a fantastic experience. I have learned so much and being in Ireland has allowed me to see amazing things, both on the island and in the whole of Europe. I’ve been so lucky.
One thing I’m also very happy about is a set of souvenirs that I’ve picked along the way during my time here. Even better, these things aren’t something to try to fit into my already-full suitcase! Over the course of my semester abroad, there are a few select Irish words and phrases that my friends and I will definitely be adding to our vocabulary.
I’ve got so much fecking work to do for finals.
This one is really interesting. It bears a similar usage to a similarly spelled curse word, yet does not share the strong negative connotation. In fact, it’s a fairly neutral/mild word. One professor even told me it’s the kind of word his sister uses in front of her young children.
Having a socially appropriate way to add emphasis to a word or sentence, in the way people often do with feck’s counterpart, is not only fascinating, it’s also fairly handy. Maybe not for everyday use, but feck will definitely be kept in my repertoire of Irish words to use in the future. Continue reading
Why are you packing four jackets? Also, the amount of shoes is a tad excessive. As you pack frantically at the last minute, and your heart is racing, sit down and take a deep breath. You don’t know this yet, but this is going to be the best four months of your life.
Things you don’t know:
-You’ll walk about 30 minutes to get to school. At first this will be kind of annoying, but eventually will become some of the most valuable minutes of your day. It will be the time to declutter and re-organize your brain.
Liza Fowler – Champlain College International Business’15 -Study abroad student in Dublin with Champlain Abroad Spring’15 – Photo credit: Joe Frank
Only a few short month ago, you probably arrived in Dublin with a mind full of possibilities—a vision of what the upcoming semester with Champlain Abroad would be like. Now all of that has transformed itself into fond memories, most of them probably far from what you pictured.
By now you know the history of the streets you walk and the landmarks you pass on a daily basis. You have a favorite pub, and a least favorite intersection. You probably notice small changes, like a new billboard or bit of graffiti on your walk to school. You’ve picked up on subtle differences in language the Irish use. You give the tourists directions. The Dublin buses still completely baffle you, but it’s alright because you’ve found all of the best shortcuts to get where you need on foot.
By now you’ve visited some of the city’s best hidden gems.
The Gardens of Remembrance
This is Ian Oliver’s first semester teaching at Champlain College Dublin. He is in charge of the first installment of a new local course version discussed by blogger Ben Pitt a few weeks ago called Creative Dublin and running under ART 380: ADVANCED ART HISTORY.
Ian Oliver – Adjunct Faculty at Champlain Abroad Dublin