Tag Archives: Margot Nelson

Get Your Greens!

Margot Nelson, ‘20 // Professional Writing, Champlain College

Having never lived in a city before studying abroad in Dublin, I didn’t know what to expect. For the most part, I can definitely understand why people love city life: there’s always something to do, you can walk or take the bus pretty much everywhere, and there’s a lot of great curry and chip shops around. But there were still times this semester when I felt overwhelmed with city life. The noise, the smells, the constant hustle and bustle were new to me and it can definitely be a lot to take in if you’ve never experienced it before. Luckily, Dublin does a good job of maintaining some natural spaces within the city. If you ever need a breath of fresh air, a quick escape from the noise, or just a nice spot to sit and read a book outside, here are a few of my favorite green spaces in Dublin.

St. Stephen’s Green. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

St. Stephen’s Green. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

St. Stephen’s Green. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

This first stop is one that all Champlain Dublin students are familiar with because it’s 5 minutes from the Academic Center. St. Stephen’s Green is a historical park in the center of Dublin, right between Grafton and Leeson Street. It is home to seagulls, pigeons, swans, and ducks that live in the ponds. On sunny days, college students and business people alike gather in the park to stretch their legs or toss around a frisbee. I recommend going to Burritos & Blues, getting a burrito with your student discount (make sure to have your student ID!), and sitting in the park for lunch.

Iveagh Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

Iveagh Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

Iveagh Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

Another park close to the Academic Center is the Iveagh Gardens. Enclosed in brick walls and dotted with statues, the Iveagh Gardens is a lot quieter than St. Stephen’s Green. It’s the perfect place to sit and relax, or to wander along the gravel paths. See what you can find: a statue hidden in the ivy, a mystical archway, or a fairy door on a tree trunk (I still haven’t found it, but I’ve been told it’s there). If you’re in the Writing the City course, you will come here as a class for inspiration so it’s definitely worth it to poke around and explore.

National Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

National Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

National Botanic Gardens. Photo credit: Margot Nelson ’20

If you have more time to spare, I cannot recommend the National Botanic Gardens enough. It’s about a 30 minute bus ride away from where you’ll be living in Dublin, and the entrance is free. For the colder months, there are greenhouses packed with exotic flowers and trees. There’s a rose garden and a whole section of one of the greenhouses dedicated to foods from around the world. If the weather is nicer you can take a walk through the sprawling grounds. There are creeks and flower beds, groves of pines and rhododendrons, and interesting plants at every turn. I went there on one of the most beautiful sunny days of the semester, and it was so relaxing and enjoyable to stroll through the trees until I found a spot to read my book and have a picnic. There were a lot of people when I went, but it still felt like an oasis from the city. This is one of my absolute favorite spots in Dublin, and I highly suggest you spend an afternoon there. They even offer some inexpensive events and exhibitions if you’re interested in that!

Studying abroad in Dublin was my first time living in a big city, and it was such a valuable experience. I learned how to use the public transportation system, how to navigate the city without a map, and how to do things on my own. But I also learned that spending time in nature is very important to me, and that sometimes I just needed a walk through the park to clear my head. I know a lot of people are the same way, especially those of us who have never lived in a proper city. The great thing about Dublin is that whether you need a quick break between classes or a whole afternoon, there’s always somewhere you can go and get your nature fix.


Continue reading

The adventures of solo travel

by Margot Nelson ’20 // Professional Writing, Champlain College

Study abroad is full of opportunities for different types of traveling. From group field trips to Northern Ireland and the West of Ireland that Champlain Dublin organizes to weekend trips around Europe with friends, it’s so easy to hop around and explore during your time abroad. However, there is another option for an exciting travel experience, which Rachel Paskavitz, a third-year Social Work student, experienced for the first time during her semester in Dublin.

Rachel Paskavitz, Social Work ’20 at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Photo credit: Margot Nelson

“I hadn’t realized how accessible solo traveling was until I sat down and realized it would be silly for me not to take advantage of the opportunities I have while I’m here.”

Rachel spent the weekend in Killarney, County Kerry, which is about a three-hour train ride from Dublin.

“I felt like traveling in Ireland would be a good first step into solo traveling. There was still so much for me to see here in Ireland, and Killarney was a great place to experience both a small town and the beauty of the outdoors. It was far enough out of my comfort zone that I was confident I could do it but wouldn’t get stressed or overwhelmed.”

The Killarney National Park. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

Planning is essential to any kind of travel, but when you’re on your own it can make the difference between a pleasant experience and a stressful one. Rachel recommends having at least your accommodation and transportation pre-booked, and to keep all your important information in one place.

“I was able to navigate the train system for the first time, so I was pretty proud of myself for doing that.” Rachel took the Irish Rail to Killarney and stayed in a hostel. “The Black Sheep Hostel was amazing! So cute, clean, comfortable, and friendly. 10/10 would definitely recommend!”

Set aside half a day at least to explore the town center of Killarney. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

Before going on your solo trip, Rachel also recommends making a list of activities and places you might want to visit but to avoid over-planning.

“Know what’s in the area but allow yourself free time to roam while you’re there,” she suggests. “In Killarney, definitely go to the National Park! It is literally right next to the town and you can walk right over to it. Explore as much as you can, and take a tour of Ross Castle in the park. It was really interesting and you can explore the whole castle instead of just seeing the outside. The town is also worth walking around, it’s really cute and small so you don’t need a lot of time to see it.”

Visit the Ross Castle in the Killarney National Park. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

So what are Rachel’s thoughts on her first solo trip?

“Being in full control of my time was really nice. Traveling with other people can be stressful sometimes because everyone wants different things, but I didn’t have to compromise! I was able to eat where I wanted and do what I wanted.”

You never know what you’ll find during your solo travels. Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

Leave yourself enough time to explore wherever you decide to travel on your own! Photo credit: Rachel Paskavitz

“If you’re considering solo travel, just do it! Even if you feel nervous about it, when the time comes it’s so much more exciting than it is nerve-wracking. The best thing was the joy and excitement I felt over and over as I kept finding more beautiful things in the area as I explored, and the gratitude I felt for the opportunity to have that experience.”

Do you want to read more about independent travelling? Check out this gem of a blog post from Alumni Lindsay Maher. 

“I was leaving on a Thursday night, and the morning of, nerves settled into my stomach. Though I wasn’t leaving the country, the reality of embarking on this journey in a new area alone was sinking in. Needless worrying about whether or not I was going to forget or lose important items, then if I was going to truly enjoy going by myself.”

 

Visit champlain abroad to start your own study abroad adventure!

Continue reading

A Short Trip “Home”

By margot nelson, ’20 // professional writing, champlain college

I found some flowers at a local street market in the 18e arrondissement.

I went to visit my aunt a few weeks ago.

That’s not super unusual, people visit their aunts all the time. Except that usually when I want to see her, I have to take a 7-hour flight across the Atlantic, so being able to hop over for a weekend was brand new and so exciting.

My mom is French and my dad is American so I grew up speaking both languages, though we have always lived in the U.S. I attended French international schools in Boston and Philadelphia where I was surrounded by people like me with families across the globe. Even in my public high school, many of my friends had family far away: India, Croatia, Mexico… We were incredibly lucky to be able to travel to see our families whenever possible, and I feel so privileged and grateful to have grown up in such an international community of people who shared my experiences. That being said, part of me did envy my friends who could just go see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for the weekend or for holidays.

When I first found out I was accepted to the Champlain Dublin program, I knew I would be going to France. I called my aunt and planned to meet her as she got out of work on a Friday afternoon. It felt too casual to be standing there, in a cobblestone street in the 1st arrondissement of Paris (Ie arrondissement) with my backpack to meet up with her and get a pizza after a short, direct trip from Dublin. After 20 years of red-eye flights and impossible layovers everywhere from Heathrow to Amsterdam, it kind of felt like cheating. Like it was too easy.

Outdoor markets are a great place to find fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, and cheeses.

We spent the weekend walking around, going to the local market for daffodils and fresh bread, visiting the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore, going to see a show at the Théâtre Marigny, and enjoying the rare February sunshine. With no plans in mind, we wandered around Montmartre to get some crêpes for lunch, and lingered in front of every patisserie we saw. In the Jardin du Luxembourg, hundreds of people were spending their afternoon in the fresh air, pushing wooden boats in the fountain, reading books in the grass, and generally just having a nice time. We stopped to admire the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was just as spectacular as I remember it from the last time I was in Paris ten years ago. Then, we found the Marché Aux Fleurs where my aunt bought some narcissus bulbs and I debated smuggling some plants back to my dorm room in Dublin.

Shop front of the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore in Paris. Photo credit: Margot Nelson

Beautiful plants and bulbs ready to go at the Marché aux Fleurs.

It was such a relaxing weekend and all too soon, it was time to go home. I can’t quite explain how bizarre it felt to wake up in Paris on Monday morning and end up racing in a cab from the airport to get to class in Dublin on time in the afternoon. Bizarre, but good.

Being French and speaking the language has always been a huge part of my own sense of self, and it’s been amazing to be in Dublin and to take advantage of the proximity and affordability of travelling to France for a couple of days. During your time abroad, make sure to find out if you have family in Ireland or anywhere else in Europe. And if you do, reach out and try to go see them! Having those kinds of connections makes the world so much more approachable and will give even greater meaning to your time abroad.

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD!

Continue reading

Internships Abroad Expand Students’ Horizons, Both Personal and Professional

BY margot nelson, ’20 // PROFESSIONAL WRITING, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

It’s no secret that students at Champlain get internships, sometimes starting as soon as sophomore year. Internships and field placements are a great way to expand your professional network, get some hands-on experience in your industry, and build an impressive resume. Getting an internship abroad offers an invaluable opportunity, allowing students to become global professionals before they even graduate.

Photo credit: Nicko Clinton

When Nicko Clinton, Graphic Design ’20, got to Dublin, he was more excited than nervous for his internships at Park PnP and Krust, an online parking reservation company and a catering wholesale and bakery café, respectively.

“So far, I am in charge of creating marketing prospects for both companies, and designing promotional materials for Krust, including the graphics on their menus,” explains Nicko. “During my time here, I want to try more fine arts graphics for Krust in order to develop my art skills. I hope to build up my portfolio.”

As part of any internship abroad, students must take the Study Abroad Internship course, taught in Dublin by Dr. Darren Kelly.

“I’ve learned a lot about Irish etiquette that helps me communicate with my internship hosts,” says Nicko about the course.

“We learn about how we can present ourselves in the most professional ways to prove that we are going to succeed,” adds Malena Groves, Filmmaking ’20, who is also taking the course. “We talk about intercultural intelligence because we are trying to integrate into a culture we aren’t familiar with. It’s great because it helps us understand how we can improve in our internships and our futures.”

Photo credit: Lena Groves

Lena is interning at the Dublin City Intercultural Language Service creating a documentary to share the stories of migrants living in Ireland and learning English. She is also helping these students learn English from an American perspective through a mobile filmmaking class focused on creativity and storytelling.

“At first I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure how the students would take to me,” she says. “Someone just coming in with a camera can be really intimidating, so I came in a few times before filming just to get to know the students and introduce myself. This helped them feel more at ease and more comfortable sharing their stories.”

One of the most important parts of her internship, to Lena, is the community.

“I hope to create some really nice friendships with the students,” she says. “By getting to know my students and learn bits and pieces from all their cultures, I can communicate their stories and make them accessible to everyone in order to show the great impact that migrants can have on a society.”

By doing an internship abroad, you’re not only becoming a global professional with a diverse, international network, but you’re also giving yourself the chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make friends and connections you might not have had otherwise.

Does an internship abroad sound like the right choice for you? Applications are due by February 15 for all those interested in interning in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020. Click here to get started!

 

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT CHAMPLAIN ABROAD!

 

Continue reading