Tag Archives: Spring 2016

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

Artists at Work: an Urban Expo

By: Sarah Wilkinson, ’17 // Professional Writing

Clouds were spitting rain on us and the air smelled of warm cheese from the renovated pizza bus resting on flat tires along the back wall. Smoke from clove cigarettes drifted through the air, coiling around the art on the walls that were dizzy with color and pattern. My classmates and I walked frenzied circles across the concrete floor, sticky with yesterday’s spilled pints, checking items off our to-do list.

  • Graffiti artists contacted and confirmed
  • Interviews with the press done
  • Musicians setting up their equipment for sound check
  • Back wall painted black and sectioned off with tape
  • Canvases set up by the windows
  • Spirits high and smiles on

We’d been preparing for this night of live graffiti art and musical performance for the past nine weeks as part of our Creative Dublin class. The whole idea was to get all twelve of us involved in the creative scene around Dublin, a city that sprawls up, down, and out, holding artistic treasures and secrets everywhere you look. After all those weeks of planning and sending emails and wondering, “Can we actually pull this off??” we were in our first-choice venue, the Bernard Shaw, and we were pulling it off.

Artists at work - waiting for folks

Sarah Wilkinson (Professional Writing’17), Cynthia Anderson (Professional Writing’17) and Callie Browning (International Business’17) ready at the ticket desk

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, however. For all the obstacles we had to jump (and fall) over, we still managed to have a solid lineup of artists and musicians, the latter with the help of Dublin City Buskers, an organization advocating for the rights of street performers. Our event’s Facebook page was the place to be in the cyber world, and hours before the event we had over 1,000 people committed to coming and some 4,000 people interested. We were expecting either no one, or for everyone and their second cousin’s in-laws to show up.

One by one, all eight of our graffiti artists arrived sporting bright red dreadlocks and other funky hairdos, tattoos on their arms, and cans of spray paint stowed in their backpacks. Each and every one of them smiled and thanked us as we helped them set up their paint stations for the night. Some artists were painting on over-sized canvases, and others were working on the giant concrete wall out back that we’d painted black for the occasion. The smell of spray paint wasn’t as overwhelming as you might have expected when they all began, arms moving in a flurry over lines and circles that slowly began to morph into pictures. Continue reading

Top Three Places To Relax In Dublin

By: Liv Werenski, Public Relations’17

Ahh, friends, here we are again. Finals time is slowly creeping up on us again and most of us aren’t ready for it. No matter how much of a prepared student you are, finals gets the best of everyone and with it comes stress and a need for relaxation. Being on a college budget doesn’t mean you can’t find spots to unwind. Even if you’re the most outgoing person, a little alone time to relax and have some quiet space is good for the soul and makes you a better person to be around.

The go-to places around Dublin are coffee shops. While I love those and Queen of Tarts is my one true love, they aren’t always the quietest places and can be bad for your budget (who can resist those chocolate lava cakes). The Champlain academic center and student apartments can be effective and of course easy to get to for a quick study sesh, however, they’re full of people you know who can become welcome distractions. While studying abroad, especially in a fun-filled place like Dublin, it’s hard to remember that you’re here for a reason. While immersing yourself in the culture is important, the main focus for every student should be the academics.

Personally, I found that about halfway through the semester, I needed to reset. I needed new places to visit, new people to talk to, and new activities to stimulate my creativity and mind. I’m the kind of person that loves change and needs it to feel fully myself, and when you live with the same people and attend the same classes with them and then find yourself in a routine, things can seem a little mundane.

Here’s a list of my top favorite places to de-stress in Dublin on a budget:

  • St. Stephen’s Green/ Iveagh Gardens/ Phoenix Park
Deer in Phoenix Park

Local Phoenix Park deer

While I love each of these parks, they all have their specific benefits. St. Stephen’s is the closest to the academic center and is super clean, Iveagh Gardens is the most quiet and intimate and Phoenix Park is the largest and also has wild deer that you can feed and a zoo! Parks and being outdoors in the sunshine are the best thing to clear a busy mind and get the alone time you desperately need without feeling completely locked away and shut away from the world. Bring a copy of a non textbook to fall in love with reading again or perhaps a yoga mat for some real connecting to the Earth.

  • Tropical Popical
Tropical Popical

Tropical Popical – the ultimate relaxing treat

You guys, this is THE place to pamper yourself in Dublin. Prices are average/a little expensive, however, you get to have your nails done while watching reality TV and drinking a margarita out of a coconut or pineapple cup. On a rainy day, it’s sure to brighten your mood. Book in advance because it’s so popular. The staff at Tropical Popical will pamper you and take care of you head to toe and you may even see a celebrity sighting since this was named THE Dublin nail salon. Try out the chocolate pedicure for a decadent treat. The best relaxation is when you don’t have to think.

  • Sunday mornings in Dun Laoghaire
stocking-up-on-olives

Olive booth at Dun Laoghaire Sunday Farmers Market

How does cliff jumping off a historic literary cliff followed by a farmer’s market sound? Every semester Champlain staff organise an outing to the 40 Foot bath and People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire south of Dublin city, make sure to tag along! The calming splashing of waves followed by homemade dumplings and a pressed juice were just the thing I needed this weekend to get some head space and think about something other than final papers and presentations. Bonus: It’s only 7 euro round trip to get there on the DART, Dublin’s subway system. Each booth has homemade arts and crafts and local food options, which are much better than anything at Lidl. I chose homemade dumplings and Pad Thai which were hot, fresh and out of this world tasty.

Let me know if you have any other suggestions or have tried any of these in the comment section below! Remember to stay focused, but never take yourself too seriously and to enjoy every part of life, both the stressful and time consuming and the fun and spontaneous.

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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

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

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

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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Champlain College visit the film set of The Vikings

Here’s how Ireland works.  It’s all about who you know.  I happened to be introduced to a fellow Canadian named Jeff Woolnough at a US Embassy Christmas party, and of course we spoke of hockey and Canadian poVikingslitics.  It turned out that Jeff was in Ireland as Director of the TV series The Vikings, currently being filmed at Ashford Studios in County Wicklow, about 30 miles south of Dublin.  With Champlain College having a Filmmaking program, I asked if he could arrange for us to visit the set for an afternoon. ‘Not a problem’, he said, ‘we’ll take care of you’.
So, this week myself, Ian Oliver (Champlain Dublin faculty teaching our Creative Dublin course), and six students made the trek to the studio and spent a delightful few hours watching several scenes being filmed getting a tour of the various sets.  We’re not allowed to reveal anything about what we saw, nor could we take photos, but suffice to say this is a very impressive and massive production.  We saw the indoor sets, outdoor sets including a Viking village and large pool for filming boat scenes, the costume, special effects, and prosthetic departments.  We chatted to the director, cinematographer as well as production assistants to get a view of how such a complicated TV series get made.
Huge thanks to Director Jeff Woolnough and Production Assistant Andrew Burke for facilitating our visit and being such fantastic hosts.
-Dr. Stephen Robinson
Director
Champlain Abroad Dublin

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The Start Of Something New…

Dia dhuit! Hello!

Well, here it is. I’m in Dublin, Ireland. Over 3,000 miles away from home. The trip that was looming as a big cloud of anxiety and nervousness above my head is gone and I am here. My first plane ride is done, my first time leaving the country is done, and my first time living in an apartment is on going. I admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ireland. I pictured the stereotypical rolling and lush green hills, and a few sheep scattered about. I pictured a country full of redheads and people with such thick accents, it wouldn’t even sound like they were speaking English.Champlain Abroad Dublin students

What I found was a sprawling and vibrant city with it’s good and it’s bad qualities. The nightlife was vibrant, and the pub scene was even more vibrant and lively. Our apartments are nestled on a quiet street near the River Liffey and are quaint but homey. Of course, living with a group of friends who I feel like I’ve known forever helps too. I spent my first week buying the necessary items to live, and unpacking my three huge suitcases.

Between grocery shopping, touring the surroundings, and adjusting to the 5 hour time difference, it was a lot. But a good a lot. I was so tired but so invigorated at the same time. The presence of this amazing opportunity and the reality of actually being here, flooded my veins with the spirit of adventure and the pride in myself that I actually did it. I made it. It was done.

The Champlain Abroad staff here was more the welcoming and made all of us feel prepared and adjusted. We had what they call a “soft landing” meaning Ireland isn’t as much of a culture shock as other cultures. They were right. I built Ireland up to be this huge undertaking and prepared to have such a large shock to my system, however I felt perfectly at home. It was different, but once again, a good kind of different.

This posting marks about a month since I’ve touched down and it’s been a whirlwind of emotions (all happy) and I can’t wait to see where this semester takes me and the self knowledge and growth I’ll gain along the way.

Slán go fóill! Until next time!

Olivia Werenski
Champlain Abroad Dublin, Spring 2016
Public Relations, Champlain College’17

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