Category Archives: Tours and Excursions

Champlain Abroad students visit Amazon Web Services

blog-csi-320-2016On November 16th the Global IT & Ethics class (CSI 320) class went to visit Amazon Web Services (AWS) on the canal at Grand Parade in Dublin. We were hosted by Matthew Pye, Operations Manager and two of his colleague engineers one specialising in security and the other in game development in the cloud. Matthew’s talk began by explaining the history, background and current structure of Amazon. The founder – Jeff Bezos -despite starting by selling books from his garage, always saw the company as a technology supplier and not a bookseller. Matt then gave an overview of the type of Services provided by Amazon and how they allow companies such as Netflix to operate from the cloud and dynamically utilise extra capacity when needed. The list of services now is vast and also includes a specialised game development engine, secure authentication servers and dedicated platforms for the Internet of Things.

They also provide free experimental use of AWS for student projects. He also described the Amazon approach to graduate recruitment and more generally the types of background research that applicants should do before attending any interview. Amazon currently employs 1700 people in Dublin and Cork and has released plans to hire 500 more over the coming years. Finally after discussions about ways to prevent Distributed Denial of Service attacks the afternoon concluded with a question and answer session. It was fantastic to be allocated so much time and it was much appreciated. All this and free pizza too! As an aside the meeting took place on the 7th floor of the old Nationwide Building Society offices which was the previous home of their CEO Michael Fingleton and now contains pool tables and fantastic views across the City – changing times indeed.

Renaat Verbruggen
Adjunct Faculty
Champlain College Dublin

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Meet Ireland through Sports, Culture & Comedy

BY Ciarán O’rourke – Head resident & activities coordinator

To say the Champlain Abroad Dublin Fall 2016 students have been busy would be a complete understatement. They are somehow balancing classes, assignments, and field-trips, with weekends trips across Europe, while engaging in a range of activities in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Already this semester they’ve experienced strange new sports, toured the rugged west coast, and enjoyed nights of karaoke, culture, and comedy, and the best part is they’re still only getting started.

Here are some of the highlights so far:

The Great Champlain Dublin Scavenger Hunt

Although it seems quite a while back now, we still have to mention the traditional scavenger hunt taking place during our student orientation every semester. The Fall 2016 group didn’t disapoint us, and dove into the city and met people with charm and excitement collecting points with their new study abroad buddies.

The Great Champlain Dublin Scavenger Hunt The Great Champlain Dublin Scavenger Hunt The Great Champlain Dublin Scavenger Hunt The Great Champlain Dublin Scavenger HuntThe Great Champlain Dublin Scavenger Hunt

Experience Gaelic Games

With two students interning with Experience Gaelic Games this semesters, Champlain Dublin’s visit was more homely than ever, in the local community, sports and culture center. Our interns demonstrated their newly learned knowledge of the native Irish sports of Gaelic Football and Hurling, alongside the local Irish player-coaches, teaching the other Champlain Dublin students the rules and skills before taking to the field and playing a match.

All-Ireland Gaelic Football Final

Students learned the games just in time for the following day’s biggest game of the year in the Irish sporting calendar, the All-Ireland Football Final. The country shuts down and the pubs swelled for the afternoon, as all eyes in the nation were fixed to a screen. Our students got behind their adopted home team cheering side by side with the local Dubliners, but as the final whistle blew at the end of overtime both teams had drawn level on points, our students were left feeling more than a little confused. Unlike anything they were accustomed to in the U.S., they learned that they had experienced a rare occurrence in Gaelic Football and the game would have to be replayed all over again in two weeks later. Thankfully their wait was rewarded on October 1st as Dublin were crowned the All-Ireland winners in the end, and by the end of the replay, they had become experts in the rules over the two game, well almost. Continue reading

Champlain College visit the film set of The Vikings

Here’s how Ireland works.  It’s all about who you know.  I happened to be introduced to a fellow Canadian named Jeff Woolnough at a US Embassy Christmas party, and of course we spoke of hockey and Canadian poVikingslitics.  It turned out that Jeff was in Ireland as Director of the TV series The Vikings, currently being filmed at Ashford Studios in County Wicklow, about 30 miles south of Dublin.  With Champlain College having a Filmmaking program, I asked if he could arrange for us to visit the set for an afternoon. ‘Not a problem’, he said, ‘we’ll take care of you’.
So, this week myself, Ian Oliver (Champlain Dublin faculty teaching our Creative Dublin course), and six students made the trek to the studio and spent a delightful few hours watching several scenes being filmed getting a tour of the various sets.  We’re not allowed to reveal anything about what we saw, nor could we take photos, but suffice to say this is a very impressive and massive production.  We saw the indoor sets, outdoor sets including a Viking village and large pool for filming boat scenes, the costume, special effects, and prosthetic departments.  We chatted to the director, cinematographer as well as production assistants to get a view of how such a complicated TV series get made.
Huge thanks to Director Jeff Woolnough and Production Assistant Andrew Burke for facilitating our visit and being such fantastic hosts.
-Dr. Stephen Robinson
Director
Champlain Abroad Dublin

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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

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A Weekend Trip to Northern Ireland

Champlain Abroad Dublin recently took a weekend trip to Northern Ireland for some unforgettable adventures. Friday was an early start, at 8 in the morning, but though everyone was a little tired, they were also excited to hit the road and head up north!

Our first stop was in the city of Belfast for a Political Black Taxi Tour of the city. Ciarán O’Rourke’s Northern Irish History class already had a background on the Troubles in Northern Ireland and I personally knew a little bit about the history of these events, but the Taxi Tours gave us such a new perspective. It’s one thing to hear about the Troubles in class, but it’s quite another thing to actually be in Northern Ireland and experience the area. It amazes me that 15 years ago, we wouldn’t even have gotten the opportunity to take this trip at all because of the conditions in Northern Ireland.

The taxi drivers told us a lot about the area and the history surrounding the Troubles. Some of the most interesting things that they showed us were the various murals honoring those who died in the Troubles located all around Belfast on the sides of houses. Here are just some of the many examples of art:
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My First Month with Champlain Abroad Dublin

Hello! My name is Amanda and I’m a third year Professional Writing major at Champlain College, currently studying with Champlain Abroad Dublin.

Apartments for Champlain Abroad Dublin students

Student apartments for the Champlain Abroad Dublin group.

It’s been about a month now since I arrived at my student apartment from the Dublin International Airport and, yes, it’s also been a month since I have left the familiarity of the US for the first time. While there are some brands and chains here that I recognize from home, like Burger King, Special K, and even Starbucks and their pumpkin spice lattés, there are many new things that I have never seen before. Spar, Tesco, and Lidl have become frequent stops for grocery shopping and the green crosses of pharmacies can be seen on most main streets. Café Sol is perfect for a quick bite for lunch and Penney’s is the best place for affordable clothes.

But, of course, I have learned more in the past month than where to do my shopping for the semester.

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The Castles of Ireland

One of the things I was most excited about doing in my semester abroad in Dublin was taking in as much Irish/European history as I could. There is just such a magic in the subject here that delves so much farther back than anything the US has to offer. In particular, one of the key features I wanted to explore at length while here was castles.

From where we stepped off the bus

From where we stepped off the bus

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A Day in Belfast

This weekend Champlain Abroad Dublin took a 2-day trip to Northern Ireland. We left early Friday morning and arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland in just a few hours. On our drive up, Dublin staff gave us a mini history lesson about Northern Ireland and its’ tumultuous past. We learned that The Troubles; a violent part of Northern Ireland’s history began in the 1960s because the Catholics felt the Protestants were discriminating against them because of their choice of religion. Not only that, but there were strong feelings on both sides on whether Northern Ireland should stay a part of the United Kingdom or return to being part of Ireland. On both sides there were Loyalists (those loyal to the British) and then there were Unionists (those fighting to keep Ireland whole). Soon, both sides erupted in anger and began protesting and consequently violent uprisings and attacks soon followed on both sides. Later in the 1970s, both sides began bombing the other and soon an infamous event known as “Bloody Sunday” occurred. (Which you may know from a U2 song) All of this history is packed into the city that is Belfast and not only were we able to learn about it, we actually had the chance to witness some of the areas of the city where this history took place.

International Wall in Belfast

The International Wall in Belfast

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Fire, Brimstone and Spectacular Views

On Sunday a group of Champlain Abroad Dublin students hopped on a bus and traveled outside of Dublin City to the foot of Montepelier Hill. Ciaran, our Head Resident and Activities Coordinator, led the short hike to the peak and the infamous Hellfire Club, an abandoned hunting lodge said to have been host to wild parties […]

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