Tag Archives: Dylan Helstien

Champlain Abroad Dublin Alumni: Where Are They Now? Rachel Paz Edition

By: dylan helstien, ’17 // Professional writing

Since Champlain College opened its abroad campus in Dublin, in 2008, over 700 students 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.

Background:

Rachel Paz Champlain College Alum

Rachel Paz, Champlain College, Marketing’14

My name is Rachel Paz and I am part of the Champlain College Class of 2014 and originally from New Jersey. I’ve always wanted to travel and explore other parts of the world, which was a major factor for me when choosing a college. At Champlain I studied marketing with the hopes of going into advertising.

After spending the Fall of 2012 studying abroad in Dublin I decided I wanted to move abroad and live in Europe for a few years to work in digital and social media. Since graduating two years ago I have started a one-year intensive masters program at the Hult International Business School. Hult has five campuses located all around the world and currently I’m at their Boston campus.

A part of my Master of International Marketing program allows students to travel to the other campuses, so I will be going to London in May and graduating there in August. Going to school with so many international students at Hult and going back to Europe has only inspired me more to move there and pursue my career in social media.

Connect with Rachel! Twitter: @Rachel_Paz14 & Instagram: @rach_paz14.

Q: What did studying abroad mean to you when you now have had a few years to reflect.

Blog - Julia, Rachel and Victoria in Ballintoy

Julia Smith, Rachel Paz and Victoria Richards in Carrick-A-Rede, Northern Ireland during their Champlain Abroad semester in Ireland, Fall 2012. Photo credit: Lilly Johnsson

A: Studying abroad meant everything to me, it was one of the main components I was looking for when choosing a college and Champlain had the best program of all the schools I was looking at. My time abroad really opened my eyes to new cultures and experiences. I was fascinated by how different everything was from what I was used to in America.

Q: What lessons did you learn while abroad?

A: I think the biggest lesson I learned was being independent and self-sufficient. It was really nice to realize I didn’t need to rely on my parents to do things for me anymore.

Q: If you could, what would you now say to yourself, just about to get on that plane to Ireland?

A: One thing I would tell myself is not to be so nervous before getting on the plane. I was really scared and wasn’t sure if I would be able to handle being abroad alone without the support of my family. After a few days though I realized I wouldn’t have any issues adjusting to life in Dublin because people there are so friendly and welcoming.

Q: How do you feel you grew while in Dublin?

A: I think I really grew up and matured during my time in Dublin. I had to learn how to figure things out for myself and not rely on my parents to do everything for me. Especially when it came to travelling in other countries, dealing with language barriers, and being able to navigate around foreign cities. Even when things went wrong or my friends and I would get lost we wouldn’t panic, we’d just figure it out. Continue reading

Preparing to study abroad in Dublin

By: dylan helstien, ’17 // Professional writing

When I applied to study abroad in Dublin I wasn’t too worried about being accepted. I had good grades and a good reputation. I was more worried about what classes I would get, seeing as I didn’t have much leeway in my required credits I needed to graduate on time. Once I was accepted I received a package with all the necessary information to help me prepare for my semester abroad. I read the entire hand book they gave me, I was excited and wanted to know everything. The guide book gave me recommendations on what to bring, what to expect, and all the rules/ safety regulations.

It’s worth putting some time into preparing to study abroad before you hop on that flight.

I was preparing to study abroad for both Fall and Spring semesters, which is a real option for many different majors. While I was mentally preparing for two semesters I was only physically able to prepare for my upcoming Fall semester, which meant all summer I was planning and prepping. I love planning, which I know isn’t for everyone but if you can try it will definitely help you out in the future. For example, I had my flight to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest booked about 2-3 months in advance. I ended up saving a lot of money by planning ahead and it’s the perfect thing to do to keep yourself busy while you wait for your adventure to start. I almost planned my entire three week trip that would be between semesters over the summer. Soon I was researching every European country and deciding which ones I wanted to visit and when.

By the time my flight to Dublin was a month away I had almost all my trips planned and all I had left to do was make sure my passport was renewed, let my bank know I was leaving, and pack. I actually think that packing was the hardest part. I lived off campus and had to pack up my whole apartment, or at least all of my belongings, not my roommates. Packing dishes, sheets, and anything that wasn’t clothes was easy because I didn’t need to think about it. I just put it in a box and called it a day. My clothes were another story. Having to pack enough clothes for two semesters in a suitcase was a challenge and from what I’ve heard packing for one semester isn’t much easier. Here’s a rule of thumb, pack two of everything. Two long sleeves, two short sleeves, two tank tops, two pairs of jeans and so on. 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

All Things Irish Sports

By: dylan helstien, ’17 // Professional writing

Hurling ball and Hurley

Hurley stick and sliotar – part of the Irish sport of Hurling

Hurling, is one of the three famous Gaelic or Irish sports. If you asked me about it before coming to Ireland I would have no idea about Gaelic Football, Handball or Hurling. Only now I know Hurling is one of the most interesting and fun to watch sport out there. Imagine the aggression of lacrosse with the agility of rugby and speed of baseball all played out on a soccer field with the point system of football (there are two goals, one with three points and the other worth one point). Each player has their own hurley, a hockey type stick, but instead of being played on the ground like hockey, the sliotar (leather ball), is hit with the hurley towards teammates in hopes that they will catch it with their bare hands before running it up the field or passing it on. The sport is full contact and the only padding they have is the recently added helmets to protect them from the hurleys, which are handled like baseball bats. Sounds terrifying if you ask me.

Champlain Abroad Dublin was kind enough to introduce us to this sport by giving us the opportunity for first hand experience through the coaches of the Dublin company Experience Gaelic Games. We began with learning the rules of the game (there aren’t many rules) before being thrust into a game ourselves. Of course, we were only playing against each other so it wasn’t the most thrilling game as we struggled to get the ball off the ground, but nonetheless, it was exhilarating.

Champlain students experiencing Irish sports in Dublin

We were also taught how to play Gaelic football, which is basically rugby but with a soccer ball, before being able to play a game between ourselves. Having played soccer for most of my life I would have guessed I would like Gaelic football more than hurling but with recent experience playing volleyball I kept trying to set and spike the ball, go figure. Although it was a great experience I think I’ll stick to watching the sport. Something that would actually come to fruition as Champlain Dublin staff worked out a deal on tickets to a game at Croke Park.

Everyone who was interested in going to the game met up in city center before making the short trek to the stadium. The closer we got to the stadium the more exciting it all became as street vendors selling merchandise became more frequent and the roar of the crowd grew louder. Once we found our seats it was easy to jump right into the game. There was two games, the first game was hurling and the second was Gaelic football both of which were between County Dublin and County Cork. Of course, we wanted County Dublin to win as any true Dub would. The stadium was full of Dublin fans decorated in the Dublin colors of blue and navy. There was always a good laugh when a diehard fan would start yelling profanities in true Irish nature at whichever player they believed wasn’t doing their best. It was even more funny when we turned around to see the diehard fan was a young teenage boy.

Croke Park Dublin

Champlain Abroad students attending a Gaelic Football match in Croke Park, Dublin.

The first game was really fast as each half of the game is thirty-five minutes long and they don’t stop the clock for anything other than halftime, something I really appreciated. American sports stop the clock every 10 seconds, meaning one game can last up to 6 hours. Not only did the time go fast because they didn’t stop the clock but the ball is constantly moving with the players elbowing, tripping, and shoving their way to victory. How could you not watch? There’s something about watching players rip each other apart to win a game all in good fun. It’s also fascinating to see them hit the ground like a freight train only to bounce back up and run for the ball. I couldn’t help but compare them to every soccer player who gets a boo boo. The players reminded me of one of my Irish professors who told me that the Irish are resilient. Continue reading