Tag Archives: Fall 2016

A time to reflect: EHS placement Dublin

BY blair thompson’18, psychology, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Working at Island Key’s Co-operative Childcare in the Docklands

Blair Thompson - Champlain Abroad DublinAs a psychology major, I’m part of Champlain College’s EHS division. Dublin’s EHS course for this semester of junior year entailed getting a placement as a volunteer in a workplace that relates to our soon-to-be bachelors degree. I started working every Wednesday at the Island Key’s co-operative childcare program. This program is part of a government organization for subsidized housing, for people and families of low income. Many of the people living there are actually immigrants from places like Lithuania and Poland, although many are still local Irish who have lived in the Docklands their whole life. The Docklands used to be a working class neighborhood where many manual laborers were employed working on the docks, hence the name of the district.

There was a period of industrialization that started replacing workers with machines which could get the job done faster. These workers became unemployed, thus turning the Docklands into a rather rough neighborhood, full of unemployed people who could no longer afford homes, and the school dropout rates rapidly increased. Any time I mentioned to an Irish person that I worked in the Docklands, I got the same uneasy reaction. I remember specifically one taxi driver telling me how it’s getting better now (due to these government organizations like affordable housing and childcare), but a few years back if you were an outsider walking down the street, “you’d find yourself naked before you even knew what happened”. The taxi driver was inferring by this that the people who lived there had a reputation for being really tough, and would steal literally everything from you, even your shoes….although the naked part was definitely an exaggeration.

I grew so much from working at my placement for the whole four months of my semester in Dublin. Let’s just start with the fact that it was an hour walk to work from the apartments, and an hour and a half walk from school. I had no choice but to take the dreaded and slightly feared public bus. I don’t know if anyone can relate, but back home in Connecticut any time I took the public bus it would end up turning into a fiasco. Whether it was going to different stops than I expected, resulting in me getting very very lost…in the rain. Or maybe anyone, male or female, can relate to some pretty creepy bus riders that try to start weird conversations and follow you off the bus. Let’s also not forget the grandpa-aged men asking for your phone number. So I was really stressed about how the heck I was going to make it to work every week. I many times would walk (note to future volunteers: never forget your umbrella), which

I actually really enjoyed because passing familiar faces and coffee shops after a while of the same routine became quite endearing and sweet. It was kind of a homey feeling, when I would pass business men and women living completely different lives, but still sharing a slice of our lives in common. After a while of recognizing one another, we would give each other a friendly nod, which is just one of those “it’s the little things” moments that makes me happy. Also as a side note, adopting some of the Irish ways while abroad can totally make one gain some weight, so that little time of exercise really pays off. Exercising also produces happy hormones, like dopamine, which is a nice way to de-stress.

So, after the first few work days I got in the routine of getting to work without getting lost. I even became confident enough to take the bus when I felt like it, which turned out to be a completely positive experience. Shockingly enough the bus routes turned out to really not be that complicated after all. If you can look at the bus route diagram while simultaneously finding those stops on your google maps, you’re good to go.
Now that half the battle of getting there was checked off the to-do list, It was time to finally start work. I was put in the classroom with the toddlers, where they can always use an extra hand. One minute you see them, the next they’re in corner…covering themselves with paint or something similarly inconvenient. About half of the toddlers first language was not english, even though they were just developing speech. This was interesting from a psychological perspective to observe how they found ways to work around the language barriers in order to communicate what they wanted or understand what we were saying to them. One really cute little boy in my classroom was from Romania and I watched him learn two languages at once. After being with the toddlers for a bit, I decided I wanted to try working with the older kids. I’ve worked as a pre-school teacher for younger ages before in previous jobs back in America, so wanted to try something new and get out of my comfort zone a little bit.

I started working from 1:30 in the afternoon, to 5:30, and i’m totally guilty of waking up right before then on those days. The kids were ages 6 to 9 and some parts of being a teacher in that classroom were actually more difficult than being with the toddlers. The kids and I spoke the same language, English…but it didn’t really feel that way at all. The Irish accent is so strong that sometimes I couldn’t even understand what they were saying, let alone the slang made things impossible. Slowly but surely I got used to the different words and phrases they used, and could finally understand them. They definitely thought I was an idiot from time to time when I couldn’t understand things they thought were so simple. I remember helping them with their homework and one little girl asking me how to spell something. I told her the American spelling but she was used to the British way, and she realized it was “wrong”. She definitely didn’t ask me for help on her homework for a while after that. Eventually she came around, but she had me prove my intelligence first! (P.s. A tip for any education majors coming over: they call a period “.” a full stop). Continue reading

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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Champlain Students Share their Dublin Internship Experiences

BY ZACH PAULSEN, PROFESSIONAL WRITING’17, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

There are many reasons to study abroad. At almost every turn it’s hard to find a downside. One of the most engaging opportunities offered to Champlain Abroad students is the range of international internship experiences.

8 Dublin students took advantage of this chance during the Spring 2016 semester, and the application process is part of your regular study abroad application. You need to work together with Champlain Abroad staff and be able to provide them with an updated resume as well as taking part in pre-interviews with the Dublin staff. Some students may even need to meet a potential host over Skype pre-arrival. Champlain staff will seek out suitable host organisations and companies on your behalf.

Champlain Abroad Dublin - Internship class Fall 2016

Champlain Abroad Dublin – Internship class Fall 2016. From Left: Laura Anderson, Jeffrey Zeleny, Bianca Roa, Jeremy Partyka, David Fiddler, Tyler Bedard, Meghan Neely, Justin Covey.

Take it from me, though, you need to be fairly proactive and focused when it comes to helping the Burlington and Dublin staff. I would have had an internship as well, had I not failed to see a few crucial emails over the summer. As long as you pay attention and make regular check-ins, the process will go smoothly.

Having said that, I am going to highlight the particular internships of some of my Champlain Dublin compatriots, Bianca Roa and Laura Anderson. Continue reading

My internship opened my eyes

 BY MEGHAn Neely, PROFESSIONAL WRITING’17, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Meghan Neely Champlain Abroad Dublin Fall 2016When I signed up for an internship through Champlain Abroad Dublin, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. All I knew was that with whatever placement I was given, I would have a lot to learn. My experience interning abroad in a foreign city was guaranteed to be unlike any other position I had held in the States, and that prospect alone was about as exciting as it was terrifying. Still, I wanted to try.

Two weeks before my arrival in August, I learned that my placement would be with the Irish Council for International Students (ICOS). It seemed like an odd fit at first, placing a Professional Writing major in a nonprofit setting that didn’t exactly seem to do a lot of writing; but I wasn’t about to back out of the opportunity. After all, ICOS is there to help people, and if they were going to teach me how help other international students like myself through my writing, who was I to say no?

It’s been four months now, and I can’t even begin to express what working for ICOS has done for me. A seeming mismatch at first, I now realize that this organization was the best possible fit my writing and for myself. We needed each other, and as the semester is drawing to a close I feel happy to say that I’ve grown in ways I hadn’t previously imagined possible. I was right when I said that I would have a lot to learn, but I never could have imagined just what it was that that notion implied.

ICOS office building in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

ICOS office building in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

I feel as though I have done absolutely everything an intern could hope for. Coffee-and-copy-runs? Absolutely out of the question. ICOS had me involved from day one. I prepared orientation packets and met Irish Aid Fellowship students from countries like Vietnam, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. I designed brochures, infographics, and website content. I sat in on board meetings and helped to plan functions. The most important jobs of all, though? Those were the communication based one. Continue reading

Exploring Iceland the student way

Exploring Iceland the student way

Champlain College student Greer Yoder gives Iceland two thumbs up

BY ZACH PAULSEN, PROFESSIONAL WRITING’17, champlain college

Planning Planning planning

Earlier in the month of November was our fall break. In lieu of Thanksgiving Break, students studying with Champlain Abroad Dublin in the fall semester are given a ten day long break during which to explore Europe, and you’d have been-pressed to find anybody who wasn’t. Personally, a group of four friends – fellow students Greer Yoder, Maggie Sergeff, Max Brisben and Reuben Kernan – and I explored Iceland for four days, and in doing so we learned a lot about what it takes to make trips on a larger scale like this work.

This has not been my first European trip. Earlier this year I visited England to see a friend, and before this year I had been to Europe on several occasions, but I cannot stress enough how easy it is to get complacent and assume that trips are all going to be flawless fairy tales that build themselves. This is one instance where I was admittedly caught off guard.

In my heart of hearts, I think I understood that Iceland was an extremely isolated place, and I would have to put in a lot of work, and play it smart, but I let my past three months in Europe get the better of me, and I went in without truly expecting any sort of issues to arise.

Needless to say, things weren’t as easy as I had expected, but we worked through it and in the end I came out with one of the best vacations of my life and a place that is 100% on my must-visit-again list.

Flights, wheels, a place to sleep and food to eat

Champlain Abroad student Max Brisben geared up and ready to go

Champlain Abroad student Max Brisben geared up and ready to go

The trip started out pretty well from the get-go. We arrived with ample time to the Dublin Airport, and spent a good hour before our flight relaxing and mentally preparing for the trip we were about to embark on. However, relaxing as it may have been, this is where we encountered our first issue.

When travelling to Iceland via Wow Air, expect policies to be different. Whereas Irish airlines Ryanair and Aer Lingus, and many American airlines, such as Delta or United are much less stringent when it comes to what constitutes a carry-on and a personal item, Icelandic airline, Wow Air is very strict in enforcing bag sizes. Make sure that even if you know your bags could fit in an overhead compartment or under a seat, they also fit within Wow Air’s measurements, because otherwise you will get hit with a baggage fee.

 

The very first time I set eyes on Iceland

The very first time I set eyes on Iceland

Having put this behind us, we stepped on to our plane and waited the longest two and a half hours of our lives until we touched down in Iceland. From the very beginning it was like we were in a different world. As I like to describe it, it was like a glacial Hawaii. Even with the rainy and cloudy weather, the landscape felt exotic and enticing.

One thing I recommend wholeheartedly comes with two different halves of advice. One: rent a car. If you are 20 you can rent a small sedan (a saloon in European terminology) from the rental company Sixt, and if you are 22 or over you can begin to rent bigger sedans, and 25 and up you can rent vans. It’s all doable. We rented an Opel Corsa to accommodate all five of us, and while it was a tight fit, we were able to make it work, and it allowed us to see so much more than we would have otherwise. In effect, the whole of the southwest coast was open to us and I cannot stress enough how much more amazing our trip was because of this. It is well worth the price, without a doubt.

And two: familiarize yourself with car rental policies, and be prepared to shell out a couple extra euro for various forms of insurance and a navigation system. Almost anywhere in the southwest coast can be reached by paved roads, but anywhere else will be gravel, so gravel insurance is an absolute must.

And the navigation system proved to be invaluable for us. It is solely responsible for our safe arrival to our Airbnb, and unless you have an existing knowledge of the Icelandic language, it is what would get you safely there too.

Our Airbnb cabin on Meðalfellsvatn

Our Airbnb cabin on Meðalfellsvatn

We rented a lakeside cabin as our accommodation, and opted to stay in the more remote – and I mean very remote – lake of Meðalfellsvatn. It’s about 45 minutes outside of the capital, and biggest city, Reykjavik, and is where many Icelanders have their summer homes, so needless to say during the winter season, it got a little bit spooky being the only people around for miles.

The house was incredible, though. And staying outside of Reykjavik is well worth it, as it becomes much more affordable. The house was our hub and the first day was spent going and getting dinner in the city. Tempting as it is, we could not do this often. Eating out in Iceland is outrageously expensive, so we also used this time to go grocery shopping. Cooking your own food is absolutely the way to go when travelling here.

Another warning about Icelandic cuisine: do not eat whale, no matter what people say, as it contributes to illegal and immoral whaling practices that still take place off of Iceland’s shores. The Icelandic government has even devoted a website to steering tourists away from restaurants that serve whale. Shark, too, is a shadier meal to eat. You’re not going to find shark fin soup, but shark dishes are another thing best avoided.

Given the little amount of daylight during the winter months, after this brief excursion we returned to the house for the night. Continue reading

Champlain students volunteered at the Cyber Threat Summit

9 students of Champlain College‘s Computer & Digital Forensics and Computer Networking & Cyber security programs volunteered at the Cyber Threat Summit early in September. The conference was a sell out and was held in the Mansion House in the Dublin city centre. The organizers are now also offering an “Omnibus Virtual Event” where the broadcast will be free to attend. If you are interested, you can find more details on the Cyber Threat Summit’s website.

The Champlain students helped  out with general tasks during the conference in exchange of sitting in on talks and presentations as well as joining networking events with conference attendees.

cyber-summit-volunteers-fall-2016

Champlain College students volunteering at the Cyber Threat Summit in Dublin. From left: Tyler Peyton, Jordan Leibow, Sean Roe, Megan Hallowell, Mitchell Green, Kelsey Hannemann, Michael Cook, Michael Roberts, Samuel Malone

Check out more photos from the Summit in this photo album:

CyberThreatTaskForceSummit-1

 

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Champlain Students taking part in Creative Minds Hackathon

BY Zach Paulsen, PROFESSIONAL WRITING’17

Kelsey Hannemann (Criminal Justice’18) , Michael Roberts (Digital Forensics’18), and Tyler Bedard (Graphic Design’18) all study abroad students from Champlain College were taking part in the Creative Minds Hackathon, hosted jointly by the DCU Ryan Academy and the U.S. Embassy in Ireland. The goal of the 72-hour creative boot camp was to put hundreds of students’ and professionals’ brains together to help work towards a solution for refugee inclusion, integration and self reliance.

Hackathon 2016

Photo album from the Creative Minds Hackathon 2016, courtesy of U.S. Embassy Dublin.

“It was a pretty big draw because it is a major issue in Ireland,” Roberts says of the role that this years theme played in attracting participants. “We’re all working towards projects to help refugees, and helping asylum seekers find who they are in Ireland, and maybe find housing; find ways they can participate in the community.”

The theme itself certainly wasn’t the sole draw to this event however.

Creative Minds Hackathon

Champlain participant Kelsey Hannemann and part of her team members during the Creative Minds Hackathon

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to reach out to more people and network and that kind of thing,” Hannemann stated, in regards to her personal reason for taking part.

Bedard echoed with a similar sentiment: “we can always go to Northern Ireland again, but that’s a one-time thing.”

The event itself took place on 14th through the 16th of October, and was structured in a way that facilitated teamwork and networking the entire way. The first day of the Hackathon was spent acquainting with team members and fleshing out ideas for projects going forward.

“It was pretty much getting to meet your team and seeing where everybody’s previous skills, majors, careers, whatever, would be able to help, so you could be able to do a multiple-week project over a weekend,” Hannemann said of the workflow of Friday night. Continue reading

The Story of Dublin

By: Meghan Neely, Professional Writing’18

 

I’ve been telling stories for as long as I’ve been able to talk. Narrative is the air I breathe. It’s the core of my existence and it’s how I connect with the world around me. It’s how I form relationships and it’s what helps me to make sense of who I am. It’s my passion, this love of story, which defines me as a writer. Like any kind of love, though, it can be confusing sometimes.

meghan-neely-profile

Meghan Neely, studying in Dublin with Champlain Abroad in the Fall of 2016

There are a lot of days when my writing and I don’t speak to each other. Days when I tear up pages and sit on the edge of my bed wondering whether or not I made the right choice. I could have picked a more stable major, something in technology or business. A course of study with a logical, proven pattern and an annual salary. But here I am. I chose writing, and I chose Champlain. This September marked the beginning of year three, and I clung to my writing like a dog with a car tire and let it carry me overseas.

Patrick Kavanagh

Statue of Irish Poet and Novelist Patrick Kavanagh

When I first stepped off the plane in Dublin, my stomach was in ropes. I had no idea what to expect from this strange, new city looming over me. I knew that, within weeks, it might make or break me as both a college student and as a writer. I felt like the struggling indie musician setting foot in New York City for the first time, guitar on my back and heart on my sleeve. Anything was possible, but could really I make it big? Would Dublin really be the city for me?

It’s been a long time now since my arrival in Ireland, and while I have many more weeks of growing ahead of me, I’m starting to think Dublin and I will be in love for a long time to come. This is the city of writers, after all.

maxwell-brisben-poetry-reading-at-the-flying-south

Champlain College student Maxwell Brisben, Creative Media’18, performing at the Flying South Open Mic night in Dublin.

Its street corners bleed inspiration from deep seated veins pumping literary history and new talent. Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, James Joyce — their faces reside in stone and museums across the city. Dozens of poetry events fill the night air with emotion from cafes along the River Liffey. No matter how far I travel, the writers are always there, watching and reminding me that yes, it can be done. You can make a living this way.

Every morning I wake up in Dublin is a morning I wake up a little more inspired, a little more confident. When I board the city bus for my internship, I know that there’s a career ahead of me, that what I can do is important. There’s never once a dull moment in this city, and I find myself shredding the pages of my notebook less and less. I’m writing more, reading more, and I owe it all to Dublin’s authors, old and new.

 

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Buckle up and come along on the Zach Paulsen Study Abroad Experience

BY Zach Paulsen, PROFESSIONAL WRITING’17

Hey everybody. Looks like I’m your digital Study Abroad Tour Guide for the semester. ‘Cause you know what they say, if you don’t write for a study abroad blog at least once in your life, you’re not living.

To all you youngsters eagerly awaiting the Spring so you too can go abroad, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to have you live vicariously through me. And to all you worried/anxious/jealous parents out there, I suppose there’s room to let you live vicariously through me too.

While we wait, seeing as I have had a month to take it all in and be a tourist in my own right, I should brief you on a few noteworthy things I’ve experienced thus far:

    • A handful of us stumbled upon the Pigeon Whisperer in St. Stephen’s Green.
    • I have hiked around the town of Howth.
    • We have experienced Gaelic Sports (I am very bad at Hurling).
    • We have gone on a trip to the West of Ireland to visit the Cliffs of Moher, the town of Doolin, the island of Inis Oirr, and the town of Galway. Oh, and we got to meet sheepdog puppies
    celtic-cross

    Celtic Cross at Corcomroe Abbey

    shipwreck

    Champlain Abroad student Laura Anderson atop an Inis Oirr shipwreck.

    Well, the time has come, so buckle up, newfound friends o’ mine. It’s time to delve into the patented Zach Paulsen Study Abroad Experience™.

    A brief little background about me: I made the trip to Dublin via a twelve hour plane ride from Seattle, where I’m from. Being from the West Coast, I’m not exactly used to living in a very history-oriented culture. In fact, even when I came to New England, it took me a while to appreciate the fact that I was eating at restaurants that were established before 1970.

    Ireland, obviously, is older still but the island’s rich history is infused in the modern culture in ways that are much deeper than what we experience back in the States. Continue reading

    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