Tag Archives: Study Abroad lessons

You Can’t See The Rainbow If You Don’t Look Up

BY Samantha McLaughlin, ’19 // marketing, CHAMPLAIN COLLEGE

Before I came to Dublin I was on Church Street in Burlington talking to a friend. I was telling him about my travels for the up and coming semester, and as soon as I said “Dublin”, I heard a woman with a thick Irish accent say “Oh, I’m from Dublin!”. This Immediately sparked my attention, and I started asking her the basics. Where to go? What is it like? What should I do? She said to me Dublin reminded her a lot of Burlington, it may be bigger but not by much.

I guess I had my mind set on a scene from Game of Thrones, you know, looking out a window at  a small cottage into fields of never ending green. small houses with beautiful doors, nothing bigger than two story houses, farmland, castles and men that convene at the local pub after a long day’s work. Basically “P.S. I Love You” but maybe a little less romantic. Something so different from where I live in the United States. There  on Church Street, I just didn’t believe, or maybe just didn’t listen, to this woman about a place she has spent all her life. O’Boy,  should I have listened, because I was in for a shock when I arrived. But I quickly realized that woman I previously met was right. Dublin from the outside was just like Burlington. Sizewise it’s like Boston, even in looks it’s similar. I didn’t feel out of my comfort zone because I could easily guide myself around town without getting lost. Nothing felt uncomfortable because of this. I surprisingly started recognizing people that I’ve just seen from walking around. Speaking of walking, everything is walkable just like Burlington, plus buy and support local is huge just like Burlington.

And because everything felt recognizable, I initially felt robbed of my abroad experience. Am I pushing myself outside my comfort zone enough? I struggled with the fact that I was too comfortable, the sense that everything seemed too familiar. Had I chosen the right study abroad location ?

We are now nearly two months into the semester and I may have judged Dublin too soon. You know the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”, it is true. I judged the looks of Dublin before I even got the chance to fully meet it. Despite my feeling of  “this is the end”, life did go on and orientation had started. There’s no way around it orientation can be a drag, though a necessity, but the information that is needed or required isn’t always the most interesting in obtaining. However for me, orientation helped unlock the treasures this abroad experience is going to give. Only if, I could release that robbed feeling, if I could stop judging this cover and actually crack the city for all that is has to offer. All expectation I had, had to be pushed to the ground and replaced with reality. Once I threw expectations out the door and with the help of Stephen’s ( Stephen is the Director of Champlain Dublin, he makes sure everything is running smoothly, honestly he does a little bit of everything, even accounting!) words and with the aid of my first night out to Harcourt Street (the street with all the clubs and bars, making for a crazy night filled with lots of fun), I realized then that I was uncomfortable being alone in a place that I was so comfortable being.

I have a lot of self-exploration to do and Dublin is going to help me with that. I realized that I’m not as independent as I thought, I saw this when I wasn’t comfortable talking to people unless I had a fellow study abroad mate with me every step of the way. I had a fear of being alone or being seen alone, I feel that in American society today, being alone is deemed as weird or unfavorable. You know that feeling, if someone is alone we think it’s because no one wants to be with them. Though here being alone almost looks elegant. There is a certain confidence that is portrayed on a woman in a restaurant indulging in a book or people watching as she digs into her meal. I came to Dublin with no close friends, so to me that felt like alone. I’m not truly alone because I have Champlain Abroad, which  offers the support from a small but truly special staff and people with faces that I recognize but don’t truly know yet! It’s me and Dublin now and I’ve realized I am stuck in the American mindset and I don’t know how to publicly be comfortable alone. But like I said, the help of student orientation and my study abroad program, I’ve cracked out of this shell and I see the light.

 

I’m ready to start my journey of self exploration through the culture, people and the land of Ireland and whatever else I hope to find that it offers. I think I will do this by exploring the Irish Film Institution opening, Dublin Culture night, Fighting Words volunteering experience, the Bluefire Street festival, trips to the cafe alone to journal, nights out in the pub, exploring Dublin’s National college of Art and Design and honestly anything that sparks my interest. Four months isn’t a lot of time and I’m planning to dig deep into the soul of Dublin, extracting everything she has to offer and customizing it on a personal level. I hope to gain that elegance and bring it back with me. Here goes nothing… Continue reading

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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I Never Would Have Guessed

BY JULIANNA PRATT, ’16 // early childhood and elementary education

Upon arriving in Dublin, I didn’t have many expectations. I wanted to come into this experience with an open mind and let what happen, happen. One thing I hadn’t expected was how much it was going to impact my life. Studying abroad has to be one of the best decisions I made in my life. There is no experience I would rather replace this with. This experience made me realize how lucky I am to have the capabilities to do something like this and go to a school that cares so much about getting its students abroad. Champlain College has given me one of the best experiences of my life and for that I thank you.

I hadn’t expected to make such good friends. Coming into this trip, I was nervous that I really only knew two or three people and everyone else had just been faces that I passed in the halls. But I couldn’t have asked for a better crew of people. Being a small group of students really helped us to bond. We got the chance to really get to know all of the people we were traveling with especially when we went on our field trips to the North and West of Ireland. It makes me grateful to think about all of these wonderful people that walked into my life. Never did I think I would come home with so many new friends.

Thanksgiving Dinner Photo Credit :Brendon Johnson

Potluck Thanksgiving Dinner with Champlain Abroad Dublin
Photo Credit :Brendon Johnson

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