All Good Things Must Come To An End

I know this is incredibly late, but I have just been so exhausted from the jet lag and being sick. Literally as soon as I got off the airplane, my body decided that I had been having way too much fun the past two weeks and developed a horrible cold. As soon as I started feeling a little better, I was headed back to Frostburg to start my final internship. All weekend I have been getting everything together and organized.. and attempting to start my portfolio!

Okay, so trying to think back.. Friday was a lovely day. We spent the morning/afternoon in Adaire. The houses were interesting because they had thatched roofs. It felt like time had just been standing still, or we had traveled back in time. I’m really glad we got the chance to see that. After Adaire, all the girls decided that we all had to spend the last of our Euros… hmm.. but where you might ask? The infamous Penny’s store of course! I have developed such a strong love for that store! If only they had an online version.. Whitney and I checked; they don’t! Darn! That night, we had a wonderful time at the party hosted by Dr. O, Steve, and Dr. B. All the Irish Grad students attended, (well, a lot of them), and it was nice to just sit down as a group and relax together one last time before we departed the Emerald Isle. I think, honestly, that dinner was one of my favorite parts because everybody was so relaxed, and the evening was very enjoyable. However, packing that night… terrible! I did manage to fit everything into my suitcase, and it was still under weight! Perfect!

Departing from Ireland was sad but still exciting. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone at home all of my amazing stories. The plane ride was long but easy. We did, however, run in the airport because we all needed to use the bathroom and they had started boarding early! I’ve never gone so fast in my life! When we arrived in Newark, our gate was moved three times and our flight was delayed about an hour. But hey, we were all used to it by then, and we all just rolled our eyes. Getting home to Dulles and seeing my parents was a magical moment. I couldn’t wait to give them a hug and thank them for everything they had done to let me go on this trip. I really couldn’t have done it with out them. I have the greatest parents in the world. 

As I reflect over this entire experience, it just feels surreal. Was I really in Ireland? Did I really teach in an all Irish speaking school? Did I really make an impact on all of the students in all of the classrooms we visited? I’m happy that I can answer yes to all those questions. I know I made an impact, and I wouldn’t change anything about this experience.. except maybe a direct flight to Ireland with NO STOP IN NEWARK. :) But that’s all. 

I really have to thank Dr. O, Steve, Dr. B, Aisling, and Patrick. This was one of the most incredible experiences, and I wouldn’t have been able to go with out all of their hard work and compassion. I have need felt such a connection with all the girls I traveled with either. I literally feel like these girls changed my life just as much as those Irish students did. I am forever thankful for all of them. I was able to become friends with people that I probably would never have with out this. We will always have this amazing experience in common, and I’ll cherish that forever. 

As I was writing up my resume last night for seminar tomorrow, I wrote down, “Teaching Abroad.” How amazing does that look! I TAUGHT IN IRELAND!! I dare someone to ask me about that on an interview, because I could talk their ear off! I not only had an awesome time being there, but I also learned so much, and I know I grew as a teacher. This is something I will never forget. 

One thing I wish I learned more of while I was there is how to speak Irish. Dr. O just sent us an email, and I’m not going to lie.. I had to use Google Translate! But yes, Dr. O, fheiceann tu go loath. And also, go raibh maith agat as gach rud. 

 

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Exhausting 3 days!

Sorry guys, know you’ve been dying to read about what I’ve been doing; I’ve just been so busy! Let’s start from Tuesday.
Tuesday:
We went to Mairead’s school, a senior school, where Maryssa and I went to 6th class. I remembered exactly why I love the older “middle school aged” students. This school was located in a rural area compared to others that were in the city. Also, this was an all girls school. The girls and boys split after 1st class. In 6th class, we learned Irish polka dancing. I had the most gracious partner who literally just whipped me around and spun me like there was no tomorrow. Bless this girl’s heart, because she didn’t realize she was dancing with someone who has two left feet. God bless her for telling me I did good when everyone knows I literally just galloped and spun around like a weirdo. I literally laughed through the entire dance, because I was just that bad… But I had loads of fun!! Afterwards, the girls asked Maryssa and I all types of questions. I absolutely loved that it was such a comfortable environment, and we could be so real with them. We literally just answered questions for about an hour. It was my absolute favorite experience for me in a school in Ireland. It reinforced that this is exactly the grade area that I want to teach, and I love that I could see that even in a different country. Amazing.
After school, Mairead took us out for a delicious healthy lunch. I say healthy because nothing was fried, covered in grease, or was drenched in dressing. It was really good! She is such a sweet person. After lunch, we had a little break where we just went back to the hostel and relaxed.. Which is quite nice when you’ve been on the go for two weeks straight!
Dinner at Aisling’s house was literally like being royal. They treated us like celebrities! A 3 course meal with tons of food, wine, amazing piano music playing in the background by her brother the entire dinner (WOW), and being catered to! I literally can’t describe it better than just by saying it was like a scene out of a fairytale where there is a dinner at a dance ball. The evening continued by Aisling playing the violin, her mom playing the violin, and her brother playing the accordion. We all say around and sang Irish music. I couldn’t have felt more at home. I feel so blessed that all these folks let us into their homes!
Around midnight, Aisling took us out for a night of pure Irish clubbing. It was a lot of fun to let loose with these ladies who I honestly feel really close to now. I know I could go to any of them with anything. I’ve learned and gained so much from all of them.

Wednesday:
It was so nice to actually sleep in a little! … Except we got back at 3 am so sleeping in wasn’t exactly sleeping in. We went to a famous jail that was opened in the 1800’s in Cork. I can’t remember the name at the moment, but I loved learning about all the history! It was amazing how people were treated and how little crimes could throw you in jail even if it was just for the night. For example, the youngest prisoner, a small young 9 year old boy, was in jail for two months for being caught pickpocketting! Crazy, right?? He was 9! When you really think about it, the 1800s weren’t that long ago and is crazy how much has changed over the years. We went from a world of simplicity to a world full of technology advancements. It’s amazing.
We also went to the butter museum. When we first got there, I thought, “Really.. We come all the way to Ireland, an you’re making me go to a butter museum?!” However, the tour was actually kind of interesting, and I learned a lot about Kerry Gold butter. Although, I’ve never tasted it the whole two weeks I’ve been here and that’s one thing that Ireland is known for… Interesting. For lunch, we went to this little cupcake cafe that was super cute! The food was good!
We went shopping later in the day and of course had to hit Penny’s again. I’ve added so many scarves to my wardrobe.. Who can pass up on scarves for only €4!!! Best store ever invented. Aisling also took us to this awesome English market! It was full of different little food places inside where you could by fresh anything you wanted! The coolest part was that when the Queen came to Ireland, that’s where she went!! I snapped a photo of the photo they had hanging on the wall of the time she was there. How cool would it have been to see her at the market. I wish! That’s some serious bragging rights.. But I’m sure the whole market was on lockdown while she was there with the secret service surrounding the building. After shopping, we came back to Courtbrack. I’ve never been so happy to see a knob on the shower in my life. PRAISE THE PERSON WHO CREATED THE SHOWER TEMPERATURE KNOB! I love you.

Thursday:
Today has been amazing even though we had to wake up at the crack of dawn. We went to Galway and Dunmore today and visited Patrick! We first went to Maive’s school. I hope I didn’t spell her name wrong.. I can’t find the spelling anywhere. The students put on the cutest presentation for us this morning so we had a little introduction about their area. It was so cute! They sang songs and even danced. We were all so impressed. I was really interested that the school had split grade levels. For example, we were in a 3rd/4th class and two others were in a 4th/5th class. I had the hardest time figuring out why they did this but it’s because the school needs 205 students to operate on a normal class level schedule. However, this year they had less then the 205 students needed so they had to cut a teacher and split the 3rd and 4th grade classes. I thought it was rather interesting the way they did that. I don’t really think that would happen much in our public schools, but hey you never know with all the budget cuts they have been making.
For lunch, we went to Patrick’s house. His amazing family cooked us lunch and it was absolutely fabulous. I can’t get over how polite and welcoming all these people are. It really makes me respect him just so much more!! After, he took us to Galway. I loved it there. It was such a cute area!! That’s how I pictures all of Ireland being. Today was a lot of fun and again, it felt good to kind of relax. I’m really sad that tomorrow is our last day here, but I couldn’t have asked for wetter people to go with or a more amazing experience. I have learned so much that I will always cherish forever and can’t wait to use some new strategies in my internship this semester!!

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Shock-o-laid = chocolate

Title= new vocabulary of the day. Today we went to two schools in Ireland. The first school was such a gorgeous building and a lively environment. The teachers were all so nice and gave us the opportunity of reading to the students and doing an extension activity. Maryssa and I went to 4th class. The students were hilarious. They were by far my favorite group of Irish students that I have met. They were so engaged, ready to learn, and had so many questions to ask us! When they found out that we only knew a few Irish words, they all burst trying to tell us so many words in Irish. They also thought it was hilarious when we tried to repeat what they said. They said we sound funny saying Irish words in an American accent. Also, Maryssa read the book, Same Same But Different. We then had the students divide their papers into quarters and draw themselves, their family, their house, and their favorite subject. After, they compared with others at the table of which was the same and which were different. I feel like in this class I really got to know the students on a personal level because I sat down at a table with 5 students and just talked to them. We compared what we had that was the same and what was different. I feel like I definitely made an impact on this class an that made me super excited! Sinéad was so sweet and made us a lovely tea break. She’s such a sweetheart. I absolutely adored the send off they gave us! Two junior infants and Sinéad waved flags and waved goodbye. Seriously adorable!
Aisling’s school today was a much different experience since they speak Irish the majority of the time. At first, I was a little uncomfortable to be honest. However, my teacher and the students were super sweet and made me feel better after a bit. Everyone in the school system seems to be so nice! I absolutely love that about Ireland. I wish we had that back at home. I do find it interesting that the Irish school literally just immerses the junior infants in complete Irish. I feel like I would be overwhelmed so much but it must work best at such a young age.
We also went to the Jameson factory and the Titanic experience. I enjoyed both of these tours. However, the Titanic experience was amazing. It was so cool that I was literally in the place where the last couple people boarded the ship to get to the titanic. That’s just simply an incredible feeling! Too bad my person died in the end :( !

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Exhausting weekend… But way cool!

Dublin was awesome! We drove down yesterday morning and spent the day there. The first place we stopped was the Guinness factory. That seriously was so cool. We got to do a little bit of taste testing and saw how Guinness is actually made. The best part, however, was being in the Guinness academy. We got to learn how to pour the perfect pint like a bartender! Then, we got the free pint! Also, at the top of the factory was an amazing bar with a 360 view of Dublin. It was absolutely breathtaking. When we were going up the glass elevator to the top floor it felt like I was Charlie in Wonka’s factory. It was awesome.
We ate lunch at O’Brians. I ate a chicken Caesar bagel, and it was so good. I’d highly recommend it! After, we went to go see Trinity College and the Book of Kells. All I can say about the college was that I seriously wish Frostburg looked like that. It was so beautiful. Also, the book of Kells was cool, but the best part was going into the oldest library. It was filled floor to ceiling (two floors) with books. Literally, wow is the only word that could describe this place. My mom would have been amazed, thrilled, and would have never wanted to leave.. Same with my brother!
We ventured over through town to O’Connell street which is the Main Street in Dublin. I could easily relate the hustle and bustle of the city to that of New York City. It was hectic but awesome to be there. We split up from the group and the girls did a little bit of shopping while the teachers went out for tea. When we gathered back together, we ate dinner at a buffet thing. It was … Interesting to say the least. Just very different from the American style I’m used to. But different is sometimes a good thing!
Today was just as incredible. We packed our bags and headed for Cork city! Along the way we stopped at the Mitchelstown caverns. Beautiful. I got so many cool pictures of all the stalagmites, crystals, and other cavern things. We learned that in the summer, the cavern hosts a concert down inside the cave because the acoustics are just so incredible down there. I can’t even imagine what that must be like. Wow.
Next, we ate lunch at Sinéad’s house. I could not tell you more how much I misse a home cooked meal. Her mom made lasagne, salad, apple pie, and chocolate tart things. Everything was so delicious and great. I was so appreciative of both of them for letting us into their home and treating us amazing. I love how nice everyone in Ireland is. They have all welcomed us with big open arms. It’s just an incredible feeling being out of the country and treated with love and compassion. I love it here.
We ventured over to the Blarney castle today too! I didn’t kiss the stone because I didn’t want to throw out my back and have any more problems on the rest of the trip. However, I did take a lot of pictures instead! The experience of being on top of the castle was enough for me. It’s so amazing to see such a castle and try to picture what it would actually be like during the time it was functioning. I know all the rooms are labeled and what not, but I still sometimes have a hard time actually picturing it. I think if I could travel back in time, I would like to see that time period…. But just for about a day. I like my modern culture.
The hostel is … Unique. I don’t know why I ever complained about courtbrack. It’s just a different experience than I’m used to. I would like to know what is up with the shower. All it has is a button which is on a timer like a sink. So the water only runs for about 1 minute and then you have to push it again… EXTREMELY ANNOYING WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO LATHER, RINSE, AND REPEAT!!
We are going into schools again tomorrow, and I can hardly wait! I love seeing the Irish students!

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It was a double rainbow day!

I didn’t blog yesterday because we were so swamped with everything. During school, I got a chance to see a resource teacher work with senior infants. They worked on listening skills, animals, and counting. It was amazing how much those students knew. They had no problem doing anything she asked them to do. You could also tell that they really enjoyed being tree, and were so excited to come to her room. They were adorable.
We also got an amazing opportunity to see the 5th and 6th class put on the show, Oliver . It was amazing. They put so much hard work and dedication into the show! I absolutely loved every second of it. I was so happy to take some pictures and even video them for a little bit. We learned that a lot of students go to acting class after school or on the weekends. At the end of the day, the principal and some special education teachers were nice enough to talk with us at the end of the day about things we had learned, and they answered any remaining questions that we had. Being at the school for three days was so amazing. When we walked out of the school, there was a beautiful double rainbow shining in the sky. It was fantastic; however, my camera only caught one rainbow.
We also went to bunratty castle yesterday. My legs hurt so bad from walking up and down all the spiral staircases! It was crazy but awesome! The castle is said to be about 400 years old. I liked it better than King Johns castle. I took a lot of cool pictures. The shops across the way were also nice. I picked up a couple things there. :)
Last night we were invited to a party with the staff of St. Conaire’s school. It was so nice to see the staff out and make personal connections to them. We talked and joked with a couple of the staff members last night and had a very good time. The party was held at Durty Nellys Pub at Bunratty Castle. It was really nice! Hopefully we will get the chance to see them in America because they were talking about sending a few of their teachers over. I hope it happens!
Today was incredible too! In the morning, Whitney, Julie, and I went into downtown Limerick to find the church that Whitney’s great grandmother got married in. It was gorgeous inside! Well worth the walk down there in the pouring rain. We also ate at BB’s and had hot chocolate and muffins. Sooooo delicious!
This afternoon we got on a tour bus and headed out for the Cliffs of Moher. Along the way, our bus driver, Liam, took us to see the beach! He also showed us where the flooding had happened where houses were completely under water. When we got to the cliffs, we couldn’t have asked for nicer weather. Amazing sunny blue skies and decent temperatures. That was lovely to see, and I took so many pictures there.
We also drove through The Burren today. I thought it was going to be a specific place where there was a couple of rocks like Stone Henge. But it was a whole entire area that was covered in rocks and mountains along the coastline. There were cattle and sheep just roaming about and the landscape was awesome. Today’s adventures were perfect. However now I am super tired, and we are waking up very early tomorrow to head to Dublin! Yay!

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Well, I officially can say I taught in Ireland!

Today was a lot of fun because I got to see three different learning environments. I watched rotation teaching with math in first class, a 5th class, and taught America to my 3rd class. Being in the 1st class was amazing. These students who are only about 6 knew so much more than our 6 year olds do. They were about to do mental math up to two decimal places, could figure out doubles in their head, and could easily identify where numbers were in a number line or chart. It was taken aback by how well they did. Our students at this age are still using manipulatives and are counting with their fingers. I really wish there were not so many cutbacks in our education systems so we could do something as effective as this. Having three teachers in the room was brilliant. They all took a group and rotated. The students grasped the concepts so well.
The 5th class I was in was at such a high level. They were listening to music and determining mood, instruments, expression, and word choice. They loved it! The teacher also did a lesson on idioms. It was interesting to learn that the Irish really use all the same idioms as we do. There wasn’t much that I hadn’t heard before.
I was so excited to teach my little lesson today to the students. They absolutely loved all the pop ups and got more and more excited with each turn of the page. I absolutely loved watching their faces light up as they looked at the different pop ups. I was very proud of them when they made their own pop up pictures! They did an excellent job.
I thought the lectures tonight were very interesting. I find it to be a little frustrating that America wants what the Irish are doing, yet they can’t seem to figure out how it works. I go to schools and see such amazing things, and I wish I could shake Americans to wake up because this is what we should be doing!

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First day in St Conaire’s!

A typical American student: hyper, talkative, messy, loud. A typical Irish student: enthusiastic, clean, respectful, trustworthy. Comparing our students to theirs was like night a day. I literally was so impressed with these students. A normal school day at home is sometimes considered to be chaotic. Here? It was actually relaxing!
When we were driving to the school this morning, I noticed all the walkers and bikers. There were no buses! All the students either walk, bike, or get dropped off by a parent. The older students were the crossing guards at all the main intersections. So much responsibility, and they loved it and owned it. Amazing. When we got there, we met with the principal (Peter) who was a former GA and graduate of Frostburg state. He was polite and enthusiastic about not only his students and staff, but of the entire school as a whole. He showed so much respect, dedication, and honor to his environment. He welcomed us into his school with open arms.
Today I was able to observe 3rd class (8-9 year olds) with Ms. Malone. She was the sweetest and talked to us so much about we classroom and students. All the students were very excited to see us and wanted to hear our “accents.” Maryssa and I got the chance to answer any questions or ask them any questions. The students asked all sorts of things about the weather, holidays, American schools, and even if we know any famous people. They were incredibly excited, and I loved every second of it!
We watched them learn Irish. It was crazy! They were saying so many different things and it all sounded like gibberish to us. It was hard to even relate words to any from English. Te only thing we caught was “hata” means hat. Ms. Malone told us that around 3rd class is when they really start to hate learning Irish. So, it’s a challenge for her each day to make it interesting for them.
The class was incredibly culturally diverse. The principal told us that there were 26 different cultures represented in the school. In our classroom, we saw Russian, Polish, Nigerian, Philippians , English, American, Chilean, and Irish. It was amazing. I loved how diverse it was an how nobody felt left out or out of place.
At 11:00, all the teachers have a tea and scone break… EVERY DAY! America, you’re doing something wrong here! All the teachers in the school gather in the staff room and are able to have a small 15-20 minute break. I thought that was so cool because it not only gives the teachers a break, but gives them an opportunity to talk with each other or find someone if need be. During this time, the students brought in a snack to eat.. All healthy foods! The students eat in their classrooms since their is no cafeteria, and they all pack lunch. Lunch time was the same type of deal. All the students eat together in their classroom, and the teachers eat together in the staff room. Lunch was about 40 minutes. Get this: the 6th class students come down and supervise the lower classes. That’s right! No adult supervision! And the best part… THEY ALL BEHAVE! That’s absolutely incredible. I wish America had that much trust in their students. For us, that’s a lawsuit just waiting to happen. Also, after they ate, the floors will still spotless! You can tell these students really respect their school.
Maryssa taught her lesson today,
and it went well. The best part was how good the students were. They asked brilliant questions and colored the most beautiful pictures. They seemed so much more mature than the typical American 9-10 year old student.
I really liked the language that the teacher used. For example, in math, she told them not to worry about completing all 10 problems, worry about getting them right. They didn’t have a rushed attitude or focus which I loved. The curriculum is so rushed in America, but here, they enjoy what they are learning and that is such a better environment for them. Also, the teacher used kind words like nice, brilliant, and excellent. Not once did she yell at them to quiet down or tell them no. I really enjoyed being in her classroom today.
Later in the day, we attended a lecture at MIC by Áine Cregan. She explained to us about education in Irish school and all about the disadvantaged schools. She strongly believes, which I think we all do too, that oral literacy is something that is missing from the classroom in daily every day instruction. She noted several ways on how we could improve this. One way was simply just introducing and using new vocabulary every day. This not only gives the students a chance to learn a new word, but also use and practice them in normal conversations and class discussions. Practice makes perfect!
She also compared and contrasted American public schools to Irish public schools. It was interesting to hear how our systems are the same and yet still very different. In Ireland, teachers are on the committee that helps build the new curriculum. Why don’t we do that in America? I would love to know. If teachers are teaching the curriculum then they should be helping to develop it as well! I would love to see that happen in the States, but I know that it will not happen for a very long time.. If ever.
Today was very productive and eyeopening. I can’t see what tomorrow brings us with another day in the school! Looking forward to it!

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