It has been a wonderful two days filled with planes, trains, tea, and coffee! On Tuesday we arrived in Dublin after a six hours on the Aer Lingus airline and then a four hour train ride to our final destination, Westport, Ireland. The first day we arrived was an information overload and a complete blur, but an amazing experience. We were greeted by our hosts and taken to the Broadlands B&B where we are staying for the next month. We also had a short tour of the town and experienced our first attempt at buying groceries at Tesco, a local supermarket in Westport. It was a long day filled with excitement, jet lag, and anticipation for the next day.
We began our journey in Nashville, Tennessee and flew to Chicago, Illinois. There we flew by Aer Lingus airlines to Dublin, Ireland. Once in Dublin we boarded a train to our final destination Westport, Ireland.
On our final form of transportation we encountered beautiful scenery as we traveled by train to Westport, Ireland. We saw many types of livestock such as sheep and cattle. The landscape was also extraordinary with non-traditional houses, green rolling hills, and mountains.
Located above is a picture before we embark on our first day of school. Our day began with a thirty minute walk to Galesocil a school that embraces all culture and the Irish language to the max. The school day begins at 9 am and ends at 2 in the afternoon. This is a much shorter school day than you would experience in the states; however, the students in Westport don't finish the school year until the end of June.
When walking to and from school we use the Greenway. The Greenway is a walking and biking trail for the people of Westport. Most people use it to walk to school, exercise or walk their dogs. We also walk through the middle of Westport to get to the Greenway. The walk is full of beautiful scenery, steep hills, and non-traditional homes.
Gaelscoil shown above is a local school that contains about 200 hundred students and currently allows parents to put their child on the waiting list at four months old. This extreme demand for an opportunity to attend the school is due to their prestige. The school provides all instruction in the Irish language and embraces the Irish culture. The principal also has a direct effect on the schools atmosphere. The staff is focused on creating a personal student to teacher relationships. The teachers are addressed as muinteoir Victoria or teacher Victoria. This informal use of the teachers name allows the students to develop a more positive relationship with their teachers and focus on communication among all parties of the school which is very different to the American schools system.
Another difference I discovered was that the teachers are given two breaks during the school day. The first break is a twenty minute break in the morning and a second break in afternoon for an hour. During the first break most teachers spend their time drinking tea and coffee. The second break is for their lunch break. Throughout both of these break times students are left alone in the classroom to play games and eat lunch. Of course in the states students are monitored continuously throughout the day.
The first day was an amazing experience and I learned so many new things. The principal spent the day giving us a tour of the school, explaining the school policies and describing her philosophy of teaching. We were also introduced to the students and staff members. Then following the introductions the remaining time was spent with our cooperating teachers. While working in the classroom the students taught me some of the basic greetings in the Irish language. Overall, the school was a lovely place with friendly staff members and students.
After our first full day of school we took a walking tour to downtown Westport to explore the local shops and restaurants.
As we began our way home from our walking tour of Westport, we noticed that we were not far from one of the local attractions, Craugh Patrick Mountain. The beautiful mountain is located just behind me. Our goal is to take a weekend and try to hike the mountain as many of the locals do. It was a long two days, but well worth the traveling, time and effort to begin this amazing adventure in Westport, Ireland.