The Swing of Things

Hello Champlain Abroad enthusiasts and fans! I’m Rachel Salois, the second half of Champlain Dublin’s blogging duo. Allyson and I are hoping to give you the flavor of our Ireland experiences, from two slightly different palettes, one of an outgoing Marketing major with an eye for Irish culture (Allyson), and one of an adventure-seeking Professional Writing major with a mission to set foot on those rolling green Irish hillsides (Rachel). Read on, and be sure to check back in throughout the semester, to see where our adventures take us!

Usually, when I’m getting ready for a big change in my life, I prepare for all the big differences that are going to happen, but it’s the details that surprise me. When I flew to Dublin on January 10th, I was ready to go to a new school and to adjust to a new city. What surprised me more is that I would have to learn how to order meat from a butcher, remember to look right—not left—when crossing the street, and to dig out coins instead of cash when I want to pay for a cup of tea at a café. (Photo at right: students walking to Champlain’s Academic Center. Photo by Jordan Hamilton.)

Of course, the first time I tried something new I made a few mistakes—I tried to buy baking apples at the produce market and the seller warned me that I’d be in for a bitter surprise if I tried to snack on one of those—but there was also a rush when I found could successfully order ‘minced meat’ at the butcher right along those wrinkly old Irish ladies who have probably been coming to this store for 40 years.

The past few weeks have had their challenges, but every day Dublin is starting to feel like a place where I can feel ‘at home’ for four months, instead of feeling like a goofy tourist. It reminds me of when I moved to Burlington for my freshman year of college; it only took me a few weeks to pick up the Burlington rhythm and now I’m doing the same thing in Dublin. (Speaking of rhythm, my Cultural Immersion Through Music class has gotten me totally psyched. None of the musical opportunities on the Burlington campus come close to what we’ll be doing in this class: building our own instruments, learning songs as a group, going to gigs throughout the city, and taking classes from local musicians! Photos of our Samba lessons should be up here soon.)

Overall, our group has actually seemed relieved to get into the swing of classes. We have a blast going on all sorts of adventures and getting familiar with the city, but during the week our days have returned to a more comfortable tempo, by finding a bit of quiet time between classes, finally using our kitchens to make meals instead of eating out, and Skyping our friends and family at home to report on everything that’s happened.

The amazing part about Champlain Abroad is that so far, we haven’t even gotten too far past Dublin on our explorations, which means there is still so much left to see. (Photo at left: Students Patrick Moore, Ian Davis, Liz Crawford, and Rachel Salois in Phoenix Park. Photo provided by Liz Crawford.) 

It’s hard to believe, but this is only the beginning. In a few weeks, I think I’ll feel ready to start digging into the rest of Ireland, and after that it will hit me that I have all of Europe at my fingertips! For now though, at least I don’t have to keep pinching myself to remember that I’m here. It’s sunk in that for the next four months, Ireland will be my home.


More Dublin
Studying Abroad As a Student of Color
Life in Dublin During COVID
Creative Minds Hackathon in Dublin