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.