First Few Steps of My Study Abroad Journey

Hi! I’m Adam DeCosta, a third-year computer science student. I’m one of the social media ambassadors for Champlain Abroad Dublin this semester. You’re going to see more updates from me throughout the semester, so make sure to keep up! Anyway, here’s a little bit about me. I am a huge nature enthusiast; I love hiking, kayaking, backpacking, camping, and photographing all of it. If an activity has anything to do with the outdoors, I probably would want to try it out. I also love being inside. I enjoy playing video games, editing photos, watching Netflix, programming, and just reading tech news. 

Making new friends in the west of Ireland
Making new friends in the west of Ireland. Photo Credit: Montserrat Guerra Solano

I was born and raised in a tiny town called Georgia, Vermont, just over twenty miles north of Burlington. There was pretty much nothing to do there, I had one neighbor and he actually lived in a different section of the house. I spent most of my life living on a dairy farm with my grandparents and my mom. I am a first-generation college student and everything post-high school was terrifying to me.

Study Abroad in Ireland

Champlain College has given me so many opportunities and so many new paths to go. Before coming to Champlain I had never heard of studying abroad. So if you went back in time, found high school me, and then told me I was going to spend four months in Ireland I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Now I’m here, and it is such a life-changing experience. Before I even got to Dublin I had a new adventure; it’s called flying! For those of you who haven’t flown before, don’t worry about it! It’s a ton of fun! A quick tip: if you are in the Northeast, book through Aer Lingus so you can get some fairly cheap direct flights to Dublin! It will make your life so much easier!

Bray Beach with Bray Head in the background. Photo credit: Adam DeCosta

Dublin is the first city I’ve ever lived in and it’s definitely been an adjustment for me, a Vermonter born and raised. For me, the “big city” was Burlington, and Dublin is super different, but also fairly similar. I’ve never really experienced living anywhere there weren’t any mountains or trees in view. No matter what direction I look from the terrace above our housing in the Highlight student accommodation I see more buildings. It’s nothing bad, just pretty different. Don’t worry though! If you love nature as much as I do it’s super easy to get outside of Dublin by taking any of the trains. Bray is beautiful and right on the seaside. We were taken there during the student orientation and there is a beautiful walk up to the top of Bray Head where you can see the entirety of Bray with an incredible view of the surrounding area. I highly recommend taking the walk up!

Like a Local

There are also a bunch of really nice parks in Dublin. Right by Champlain’s Academic Center, there is St. Stephen’s Green. It’s a pretty busy park and has a beautiful center with tons of flowers and it’s surrounded by trees. You can hang out there and eat food, or do some work, or just lie in the grass and listen to music. It can be pretty serene. I haven’t personally been to other parks, but I’ve heard that both the Iveagh Gardens and Phoenix Park are beautiful. Phoenix Park is huge, it’s seven square kilometers and has deer! So if you miss seeing animals that aren’t pigeons or seagulls it’s a great place to go.

Champlain students get to know the locals of the Liberties neighborhood in Dublin. Photo credit: Will Botto

Something really cool we did during orientation took a tour of the area we are located in. So we live in the Liberties which is the old historical section of Dublin and it’s honestly very nice. On this tour, we met a lot of the local shopkeepers and grocers and it really helped me feel more at home here. Now, whenever I go to them they ask me how my most recent trip was because they still recognize me. They’re very welcoming and also importantly, cheap. Unlike in Vermont / the US as a whole, local grocers and food are actually cheaper than the supermarkets and groceries here are very cheap compared to home. Our orientation tour with the locals actually made the news in one of Ireland’s largest newspapers, you can read more about it here in the Irish Times. 

West of Ireland Tour

My favorite thing I’ve done so far is our West of Ireland trip. Last Friday our entire group woke up bright and early, got on a bus, and took a trip across the country to Doolin, a tiny town by the Cliffs of Moher. On the trip over we had plenty of pit stops to see cool areas. We stopped at the Corcomroe Abbey which is a 13th-century monastery, The Burren which is a region where there are huge limestone hills, and a town called Kinvara. It was a very long trip there but there were definitely a lot of pretty views.

Corcomroe Abbey. Photo Credit: Adam DeCosta

In Doolin, we checked into our hostel and then went to dinner, and after dinner, we went to the Cliffs of Moher. It was the most incredible experience of my life. I genuinely will never forget looking across the cliffs, I completely understood why people thought it was the edge of the world. I took a million photos of this place and honestly none of them do it justice. It was truly a magical place and anyone going to Dublin abroad should look forward to it. Now, even though the cliffs were incredible, that doesn’t make the rest of the trip seem boring. Saturday we went to Inisheer which is one of the Aran Islands. There my friends and I went to this vegan cafe that opened last May and it was delicious food. The weather was rainy for most of the day which wasn’t my favorite part, but there was plenty of hot coffee available on this island!

Me with the Cliffs of Moher. Photo credit: Adam DeCosta

After coming back from Inisheer we went to Galway and spent the night there, once we checked into the hostel we had the night to ourselves, so naturally, my friends and I looked for food. We ended up at a restaurant called Pasta Factory and it was the best meal I’ve had in well over six months. I will take a train back to Galway JUST to eat there again it was that good. After that, we were free to just explore for the rest of the night and we found some live music. Being in Galway actually felt a lot like being in old Montreal.

Then on Sunday, we began the drive back to Dublin. Of course, not without some new stops along the way. We stopped in Cong for lunch which happened to be where The Quiet Man by John Ford was made. It was a very quaint little town and The Quiet Man merchandise was everywhere, and my friend Mackenzie bought the first Harry Potter book in Irish! Once we left there we went to one of my favorite spots, the Joyce Country Sheepdogs! We got to see some absolutely spectacular views of mountains and a small lake. We also got to meet some border collie puppies, and we watched the adult dogs herd sheep! After we left there we began the actual drive back to Dublin, every second of which made me more excited for my next trip out!

European Adventures on the Horizon

I have a lot of activities to look forward to in both Ireland and Europe in general! I’m excited about our Northern Ireland trip. I can’t wait to learn more about the history of both Ireland and Northern Ireland, see the Giant’s Causeway, and whatever surprises the Champlain staff Stephen, Lilly, and Tony have for us! Other than that, I’m excited to explore other parts of Ireland. Mackenzie and I are going to Dingle for a weekend this semester and are trying to look for other fun or interesting places to visit. A bunch of my friends and I also have plans to travel over our fall break. I’m going to be going to Vienna, Austria, and Cluj-Napoca, Romania and I am counting down the days until I get to go explore more of Europe!

Anyway, I hope what I wrote helps get you more excited for study abroad! As a first-gen college student, I can tell you it is possible to go abroad and I recommend it so much! I think everyone should try to get some sort of global experience or education while they’re in college. There is probably no other time in your life where studying in Europe for four months is as feasible. If you’re worried about not being able to go, the Office of International Education, your faculty advisor, and financial aid are such great resources. If you want help you can get it, because Champlain has the resources to help. Be excited, because the junior year comes quick!


More Adventure
Comparing Different Third Party Programs
2024 Costa Rica Trip!
First Impressions of Studying in Montreal: A Champlain College Student’s Adventure Abroad