Tag Archives: Amanda Hollywood

An Open Letter to Dublin

By: Amanda Hollywood, ’17 // Public Relations

Dear Dublin,

sick mondo

When I had a fever I had to lay in my dark room with a damp towel over my forehead.

Whenever I would complain about how stubborn one of my siblings was being, my dad would always counter with a story from his childhood about my granny. When he was young it would be his job in the morning to make her a cup of coffee as he made his own breakfast, and one time, somehow, he accidentally set his toast on fire in the toaster and had to put it out with a fire extinguisher. When my granny came downstairs, she scolded him for not having her coffee ready, even while seeing him clearly in the aftermath of an actual fire. No matter how my dad explained, she wasn’t hearing it. She just wanted her coffee. The farther back in my family you go, it seems, the more and more stubborn we get. After coming to Ireland, I know without a doubt it’s the Irish in us. That’s where you come in, Dublin.

You didn’t care that I was here to have the time of my life. You didn’t care that I had invested thousands into this trip. You didn’t care that I had very different goals set, coming abroad. There were lessons you had for me to learn, and I was going to learn them, one way or another. Namely, by getting really, really sick. About 45% of my time here was spent being somehow sick. I spent more time sick here in Ireland than I’ve spent sick in the past five years, easily. I spent many days and nights staring at the ceiling and reasoning with the universe: Don’t you understand I’m supposed to be having the time of my life right now? Don’t you understand I have plans? But you were stubborn, Dublin. And you taught me to be stubborn, too.

happy mondo

The first thing I did when I got better was hop on a plane to the Happiest Place on Earth

You stubbornly made me become independent. I had no one to rely on but myself. There’s no mommy out here to nurse you back to health- you have to do it yourself. No one is obligated to take care of you, or otherwise care at all. Not to say no one cared, but you taught me self care. Self reliance. And now, self confidence that I can take care of myself. If I hadn’t spent weeks stubbornly fighting my way to good health, I never would have had the independence needed to take two trains and a bus all the way to Dingle and spend the weekend there alone. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to navigate the Paris metro system on my own.

And with the stubbornness of a group of doomed rebels rising up on Easter morning, and the stubbornness of the harps now plastered on any and everything Irish but which earlier had nearly gone extinct, I got better. I kept going to the doctor, and I kept taking my medicine, and I kept resting until I got better. And I was not derailed. I stubbornly did everything I set out to do, and did it in half the time everyone else had. Dublin, you taught me to be stubborn- and to persevere.

super happy mondo

One of my best days in Ireland was when I did the Howth cliff walk. I was afraid I would be too weak after being so sick, but I had the time of my life!

It wasn’t easy, but even so, I’m thankful for the lessons you so kindly forced down my throat, Dublin. I can practically hear your ‘I told you so’s nipping at my heels as I prepare to depart. Ireland really is a Mother. So, thank you, Dublin. It’s a little begrudging, in the same way you would hate admitting it when your mom is Absolutely Right, but there is no denying I have been changed for the better. You’re sending home a completely different person- a more stubborn, self-confident person- and I hope you’re prepared to take the blame for that!

Goodbye Dublin. I think I can take it from here.

Yours Always,

Amanda

 

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Daring David: Adventurer, Entrepreneur, and Champlain Abroad Alum

By: Amanda Hollywood, ’17 // Public Relations

Since Champlain College opened its abroad campus in Dublin, in 2008, over 700 students have studied with Champlain Abroad in Ireland for a semester.  We decided to track some of them down for interviews about their experience in Dublin, and the impact that study abroad has had on their lives.

David D’Angelo

David D’Angelo is a Champlain College alumni who also studied with Champlain Abroad in Dublin

David J. D’Angelo is a Champlain College alumni from the graduating class of 2012 who has been involved in entrepreneurial projects with companies including Somu Energy, Nanosynth Materials & Sensors, Data Mural, Intellectual Asset Partners, International Rescue Committee, United Nations, US State Department, US Homeland Security, Social Enterprise Greenhouse and Catholic Charities Migration & Refugee Services. Currently he resides in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is the founder of Somu Energy as well as the Entrepreneur in Residence at Intellectual Asset Partners. However, six years ago in the fall of 2010, he was just a third year Criminal Justice major from Ludlow, Massachusetts, arriving in Dublin for his first true abroad experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing David to get some insight on how studying abroad launched him into the successful life he leads today.

Q: What made you decide to go to Dublin? Did the trip live up to that expectation?

A: Early on in my undergraduate years, I felt challenged by the identity discovery process. I was pursuing a major that didn’t feel like the right fit. I was still figuring out who I was and who I aspired to be. And, at the time,  I felt like a major change, like studying abroad, might propel me into discovering more about myself and the direction I wanted to take my academics and career. This was a chance to connect the dots. It was a chance to throw myself against the vulnerability of being in a new place, in order to understand more about myself. It was an opportunity to adventure and explore and find my purpose.

A few close friends had already decided to commit to a semester abroad in Dublin. They were the ones who motivated me to seek out the experience in the first place. Without their push, I doubt I would have ever stepped foot into Ireland. And, thank god I did.

Guinness Storehouse

David D’Angelo visiting the Guinness Storehouse with friends during his study abroad semester in Dublin.

Going to Dublin was the best decision I ever made. It helped me feel comfortable when faced with the unfamiliar which later gave me the confidence to do things such as study in Thailand and launch a social venture in Nepal. Dublin was the first step of international exposure that I took, and it has since fueled my desire to see more of the world.

 

Q: What were some of your apprehensions or ‘Big Unknowns’ before you came abroad?

A: Looking back, I certainly had my apprehensions. I questioned whether I would be ready for the change. I questioned if the change was worth leaving my comfortable routine. There were people in my life that questioned the value of the experience I would have in Dublin. They would confront me and say “but why can’t you do that here in the United States?”. At the time, I couldn’t confidently convey the value, because I had never experienced it for myself. I trusted my intuition, and trusting my intuition ended up paying off in meaningful ways. You never know what it is going to be like until you get there. Now, I make sure that I always go into a new experience with optimism and trust that things are going to work out. And, usually they do. 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

Making Music: The Academic Experience I Never Expected

By: Amanda Hollywood, ’17 // Public Relations

Let’s be honest for a minute: when it comes to the process of preparing for a semester in Dublin, our courses are likely not in the top ten things on our mind. Amidst all the charms of being in a new foreign city, meeting new friends, and figuring out all our travel adventures, it’s easy to feel like our academics might end up taking the backburner. It can sometimes be rumored that study abroad is like a vacation: yes you’re taking classes, but those are in the background compared to the rest of your experience. However, in my time here I have learned that this is definitely NOT the case!

When I was signing up for my Champlain Abroad Dublin classes all the course descriptions sounded interesting enough, a little plain, and besides filling credit requirements I didn’t put a huge amount of thought into what I joined. The Cultural Immersion Through Music course, for example, sounded like a pretty calm lecture where we’d listen to a lot of Irish music recordings and do some readings. I thought, ‘Well, I like music…,’ checked off the box, and didn’t think much more of it until I got the textbook requirements sheet for my classes, months later. Under this class it simply said: “No textbook required, but students must have 30 euro to purchase a tin whistle and hand drum.” All I could think was, what have I gotten myself into!

Fast forward a handful of weeks and I’m stretching dried goat skin over a wooden frame I hand-painted to build my very own bodhrán, a traditional Irish hand drum. This class, like all my courses here in Dublin, has completely blown me away with how interesting and hands-on it is. I’m not just listening to music: I’m singing it, I’m playing it on a huge variety of instruments, I’m taking field trips to watch it be performed, I’m analyzing its lyrics both in English and in Irish- it truly lives up to the course title, cultural immersion through music.

Cultural Immersion Through Music

Champlain Abroad Dublin students crafting their own Bodhrán, a traditional Irish hand drum in the Cultural Immersion through Music class

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