Where Study Abroad Is Taking Me

I chose Champlain because I wanted to leave college feeling ready to find a career that I loved. Studying abroad in Ireland has already made me twice as prepared to take on any job that I may have one day, because everything I do here—from ordering drinks at a pub to taking a taxi tour of downtown Belfast—is a learning experience.

Rachel and Allyson resting by a trail side  on the Northern Ireland trip.

I wanted to study abroad because (like many Professional Writing majors,) I grew up reading and writing about what I loved, but knew I still needed to work on experiencing the topics that I write about. Living in Ireland has pushed me to be more fearless about exploring and investigating the world around me.

The classes here also offer something that I couldn’t have gotten back in Burlington. My professors are mostly Irish and are used to teaching Irish students. Sometimes I feel stupid in class because the information is so new to me (I’m pretty sure some of the information that I’m learning in my Modern Irish Social history class any 8 year-old in Ireland already knows). But it has also made me so much more aware of how to interact with people who are coming from an entirely different background than me. While I feel like I’m learning some of the most basic information from my Irish professors, I’m also teaching them about how I approach situations with my American background.

Students putting skins on their bodhrán drums.

Another interesting part about our classes is that they all take a hands-on approach. Just like in job trainings where I learn information and then use it the very next day, I am applying what I learn in science and music class to practical situations while I’m here. Yesterday, we finished building our bodhrán drums in music class and in a few weeks, we’ll have professional drummers come in and teach us how to use them. In science class, we have been learning about rocks and minerals for the past month, and last weekend at the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, Stephen explained to us how the naturally, honeycomb-shaped rocks we were standing on were formed by the rapid cooling of Basalt underwater.

The best part about my education here is that most of it isn’t coming from books and tests. I’m learning things that I can apply to my life tomorrow and remember for years to come. It’s starting to feel like study abroad is transitioning me from the comfortable but closed-off school-world where I have been living my whole life and introducing me to the work-world where I will be in May 2012.

More Dublin
Summer Reading: THE WREN HUNT by Mary Watson
Learning Irish
Deep Dive Dublin – An Interview with Stephen Robinson