This week has been a busy one. We have been in the primary school every day this week. It is most definitely enjoyable, but also rather exhausting! Outside of going into the schools, we have had our first project and gave a presentation today over reading comprehension! I have enjoyed taking the time this week to get to know the kids more personally and also their strengths and weaknesses. I have learned a lot about how they have such good classroom management skills, respect from the students, and their discipline process. These are things that I hope to implement in my future classroom as well. It is so successful throughout their school.
Outside of classes this week I have been busy looking into weekend trips and doing lots of planning with the other girls! We have successfully booked our trips to Germany, Ireland, and London! It takes hours to find and plan all of the flights, trains, and hostels that we're going to be staying at! I am continuously amazed by how cheap traveling is within Europe! We found a round trip flight to Ireland for only twenty dollars. I was in shock.
Extremely early Friday morning we will begin our first 12 days of travel! In this time we will be visiting Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, and Whales. It will be non-stop traveling, new experiences, new cultures, and possibly even learning some new languages! I am a little bit nervous about visiting France considering I know no French and have heard the locals aren't too friendly. We will be taking all sorts of transportation from busses, trains, planes, and even some biking in Holland! This will be a great experience that I am eagerly beginning to pack for!
Since arriving in England I have noticed various cultural differences. Some things I have noticed within our school and others from spending time in Liverpool. Originally, before leaving the USA, I knew that England had a few different terms for English words, such as the word for trash is rubbish. Outside of a few things that I knew of before leaving the states, I assumed that it wouldn't really be an issue. Now that I have been in the United Kingdom for almost two weeks, I have noticed that the states and United Kingdom speak two completely different styles of English. I am continuously catching myself asking people to repeat themselves or asking others what they are trying to tell me.
I feel like the European lifestyle is more formal. Even when it comes to their language, they refer to things in more formal terms. When it comes to style and what Europeans wear, it is very different. I have been here nearly 2 weeks and not seen a single girl wearing leggings or yoga pants. Even when I see the other (British) college students at breakfast, no one is wearing their sweatpants , hoodies, or t-shirts. I am used to wearing jeans and t-shits back at home, but here I feel rather underdressed when I go out into public in my normal American attire.
When it comes to travel, public transportation is the normal way to travel. It could be buses, taxis, or trains. Most families have one car and that is it, there isn't room in their home to have two cars. Also, all of the vehicles are very tiny, compact little cars. There certainly aren't mini vans, trucks, or SUV's. They're all much more fuel efficient and eco-friendly cars. Houses frequently don't have front yards, or even grass. Normally you can see a rock garden in front of homes instead of the green gardens we are used to in Ohio. My dad most definitely could not handle living this way; our yard is where he spends most of the summer landscaping.
When you are going out to eat in the states I think its common to find televisions up in almost every casual restaurant. Most certainly you will find them all over the walls at any bar. When you go out to a pub, bar, or restaurant in England you won't see any televisions on the walls. There is also rarely WIFI for you in public places, and when you do find it, chances are it's spotty. Even in our school the WIFI frequently goes out. At Ball State that would be a tragedy. Most American schools are heavily dependent on WIFI, but that's not the case in England. The WIFI frequently doesn't work in the schools, but when it isn't working they just move on as if it is no big deal. Most definitely different from schools back in the states.
From people watching I have noticed English people are not cell phone oriented at all. I have even seen a few flip phones since being here, and I could not tell you the last time I saw a flip phone in the states. People aren't texting and driving, walking down the streets checking Facebook, or refreshing Twitter every time the bus stops. To my surprise, I have honestly enjoyed being disconnected from my phone also. There are so many other things to be noticed in a new city when you're exploring instead of worrying about who said what or checking your emails. England definitely has a different culture, but I honestly think that I enjoy how much more laid back it is here!
Until next time,
After our first weekend of travel, we met for class on campus at Liverpool Hope University. We had class for 2 hours in the morning following breakfast. We had the rest of the day to ourselves, which was nice after such a busy first week and weekend. It is so hard to believe that our first week is already over; time is passing too quickly! I spent some time relaxing with friends and planning our next few weekends of travel. We purchased our airline tickets to Dublin for a steal, round trip 20 GBP! That is only about 30 American dollars.
After dinner I went downtown to the docks with one of my friends, Rachel! We went exploring more along the docks at the perfect time as the sun was setting over the water. It was very peaceful to watch.
When we were down by the shops at the docks, I got a full size British flag! I am starting a flag collection for my future classroom. I intend to get miniature flags from each country I visit to surround the British flag! I hope to make this a diversity lesson with my future students to discuss cultural differences.
After making our way through several of the shops we decided to ride the Ferris wheel as it got closer to sunset! When Rachel and I were walking up to buy tickets to ride the Ferris wheel, the first thing the employee said was "You're Americans aren't you?" We weren't talking or wearing anything suggesting we were Americans. I'm not kidding, I might as well wear a sign when I go out in public saying "I'm from America." After asking the employee how he knew we were Americans, he said our teeth were too straight and white to be from Europe. We were not too sure how to respond to that comment! After his entertaining interpretation of Americans we got onto the Ferris wheel. The Ferris wheel is right over the edge of the water and had a view of Liverpool for miles. We spent about 15 minutes on the Ferris wheel and didn't want to get off the ride!
After our ride it was getting rather late so we needed to start heading back to campus. We needed to get some groceries before we went back though. I had been craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for days. When we were shopping in the grocery store we began to notice that a good portion of the store was alcohol, then we started to notice that there was literally alcohol randomly placed in every isle of the store.
For example, you can choose between wine, beer, and your favorite cereal all in one spot. I would not say Europeans are alcoholics, but it is simply a different lifestyle. Going to a pub or drinking is more of a social and casual interaction. It was humorous when we were looking for our PB&J ingredients. We didn't get back to campus until around 11 and went right to bed because we had to be at school at 8am the next morning!
On Friday we had taken a tour of St. Giles Cathedral in the center of the Royal Miles and decided we wanted to attend a Sunday Morning service. This cathedral was amazing, we had spent over an hour looking at all of the detail in the stain glass so naturally I could not wait to go back. Well to our surprise when we arrived at the cathedral the greeter told us this was the best week to choose to come and that we were attending a very special service. It was St. Giles' Cathedrals general assembly week. Since St. Giles Cathedral is the head Catholic church of Scotland there was one representative from every catholic church in Scotland. In addition to the special attendance the members in attendance were in their full apparel for the general assembly. The city council members were in their formal uniforms. The jury were also in their 16th century apparel, big fake white wigs and all. They had an organ that was special made from Austria for their church that echoed throughout the cathedral. The detail in the stain glass windows had such amazing detail, each window was telling a different book from the bible.
Within the church King George the VI was buried. There was a special room of the church that was dedicated to his memorial. In a separate room there was the royal families timeline into the wall from the first royal family to the present living royal family members.
The service was about an hour long and I enjoyed every minute of it. Hearing the choirs voice echoing through the halls was flawless. I sat next to an older man who had been attending the church since he was a child. His wife was also on the church board as well as a member of the churches jury. He was kind enough to explain the importance and also the significance of all of the elements of the church and service that Sunday. I was so grateful that he took the time to explain to my group and also myself.
After the church service we went and got breakfast at a local café that had delicious biscuits. When eating out in Europe there is a few different edicts in Europe. Eating out is more of a social event that just going to get food. Going out the eat is something that takes about 2 hours for the whole process and they in no way rush you out to leave afterwards. Also, when paying the bill there is never tax on any of your bills. In addition, you do not tip any servers. Tipping a server is considered to be an insult to their living wages and how much they make.
From the café we went to The Elephant House. This is the café where the Harry Potter book series was written. Inside the café the walls were covered with articles about J.K. Rowling writing her books within the café. The café was a unique place that had a very different style to it! Two of the characters from Harry Potter also got their names from tombstones at a cemetery near The Elephant house. We had seen these on Friday afternoon when we were exploring. After the Elephant house we went to the Grass Market. This area was so adorable to walk around. It was lined with trees that were lit with Christmas lights and you could get rides in a carriage around the market area. This market had lots of fresh fruit and lots of fresh food stands.
After going through the market we got lunch on our way to the train station. We caught a train from Edinburgh to Liverpool at 4:15. It was a 5-hour train ride and we switch stations at Manchester. When we were waiting for our train in Manchester we were only two or three blocks away from the Manchester United arena. The game was coming to an end as we arrived and they unfortunately tied 1-1. We took a taxi from the train station back to campus which was an interesting experience, lets just say the driver practicing "grind them till you find them" motto when driving his manual taxi. After getting back from a long weekend packed with exploring, adventures, and memories I was eager to get some rest!
Overall some cultural differences I noticed were that they had no televisions in public places. I feel like in the states when you go out to eat almost every restaurant for you to watch TV while you wait. When I was in Scotland I didn't see one television all weekend. When people were out at dinner they weren't on their phone, they were socializing with their friends. People weren't walking down the streets texting, but instead taking in the scenery and liver entertainment. This was most definitely something I enjoyed noticing. When talking with locals they used a few different words for lingo, for example they said "Ta" instead of saying thank you. Also the city had quite a few old cathedrals, there was a church on nearly every street. I feel that Edinburgh offered us a combination of both scenery and also historic landmarks. I am glad that I got to experience all of the history first hand.
Until next time,
Saturday Morning we woke up around 8am and began getting ready to hike Arthur's seat. We packed lunch and snacks to eat during our hike. Arthur's seat is an old volcano located at the end of the Royal Mile. Hiking up Arthur's seat was an adventure to say the least! Some points were at inclines so steep I felt like I was rock climbing. Then there were Edinburgh rain showers that would make the rocks a slippery slope! It rained at least 10 times each day, but it was a different type of rain. In Edinburgh it rains cats and dogs for 5-10 minutes, then goes back to sunshine and beautiful, like nothing ever happened. The closer we got to the top, the more windy it got. The tip-top was so windy I struggled to stand up without falling over - - I wish that was an exaggeration. The very top was so small and windy that it was honestly dangerous and I was rather scared that I would fall over! Once we got to the top we spent a few hours enjoying the view and eating lunch!
When we were all at the top of the volcano we wanted a group picture and another older couple came at the perfect time. When taking our picture, they noticed all of our Ball State apparel and asked if we attended school there and what the occasion was for our trip to Scotland. After talking more with them, we learned they had a daughter in grad school at Ball State and were from Cincinnati, Ohio ... I was so surprised! Half-way across the world, on top of a volcano and we meet people with a daughter at Ball State that live so close to me.
Spending the morning hiking up the volcano left us a little tired and sweaty so we went back to our hostel and re-energized. After resting we walked the other half of the Royal Mile going into several markets and boutiques along the way. From there we crossed the bridge into what the locals referred to as "New Edinburgh". This area was more urbanized than the rest of Edinburgh, containing stores like H&M, T.J.Maxx, and your typical shopping mall stores. Outside of the urbanized area we found Calton Hill in the center of the city. The hill houses several different monuments. These were fascinating historical ruins from the early 19th century and there were lots of remaining war artifacts. We got to see the national monument and also Nelson's Monument. Here are a few pictures with the monuments on Calton Hill.
After our evening spent in "New Edinburgh" we went on a ghost tour of Edinburgh! We started in the center of the Royal Mile and were lead around above and below the streets of the Royal Mile being told events recorded in history. This was a 2 hour tour that did have a lot of interesting information about the history of the town as well. All of the tunnels and passages underground were very confusing and I could have easily gotten lost with just one wrong turn! Edinburgh is referred to as the most haunted city of the United Kingdom so the ghost tour was a must! It was really enjoyable and my group definitely had a blast hearing the cities old tales after dark. As you can imagine this was an extremely long day for us after hiking up a volcano, up a hill to the ruins, and also our ghost tour leaving us EXHAUSTED! A very long day full of so much discovery and full of memories.
On Friday morning we woke up at 7 am to begin our journey from Liverpool to Scotland. We got breakfast on the way to the bus station, went to the Liverpool train station and were off to Edinburgh! It was about a 4 hour train ride with lots of naps. The train ride went through the country side and it was beautiful. I saw more sheep than I have seen in my lifetime! Rolling hills with peaks covered by the clouds. After arriving in Edinburgh, the group of 14 split to find our hostels!
After walking right past our hostel a few times, we finally found it right where we were looking all along. We were staying about 200 feet from the center of the royal mile. Our location was amazing! A hostel is definitely different from a hotel, but it wasn't as bad as I was expecting! We checked in and went strait for food. We found a small little local place to eat that had wonderful food. It most definitely wasn't American food, but it was delicious! From there we began exploring the Royal Mile!
The Royal Mile was lined with shops selling anything you could ever want. There were also several cathedrals and historical buildings that we spent the afternoon touring. At the end of the mile was the Edinburgh Castle, which was rather intimidating in size. The castle sat on a hill in the middle of the city and you could see everything around you below. We also arrived at the perfect time and got to watch a guard exchange. Also, an event was going on, so we got to see the bagpipes line the entryway as some very well dress people entered the castle.
When exploring the Royal Mile, we found a market in an old historical building that had some pretty impressive crafts. There were large wooden boxes made with wood from wrecked ships, remnants from buildings in the 16th century turned into crafts and/or artwork.. sadly none of these things would fit in my suitcase back to the states. There were many street musicians playing bagpipes and putting on shows for people walking down the Royal Mile.
After exploring about half of the Royal Mile it was getting late and the shops were starting to close, so we began to look for dinner choices. We found an American themed place to eat. We were a little excited after a week of English food. Many countries are known for their wonderful food.. Italy, France, Spain, but England never makes that list and now I know why! Although the burger was nothing like cheeseburgers at home, it was a delightful meal. By this point we had been walking all day up and down the hilly Royal Mile's cobblestone roads and were rather tired. We also were wanting to hike the Arthur's Seat volcano in the morning so we called it an early night!
Today was our first day in the primary school classroom! It was the best education experience I have had this far with Ball State University. The students welcomed us with open arms. I am going to be going back and forth between two year 5 classrooms (4th grade). I am also going to be co-teaching with another Ball State student in the classroom. All of the schools in the UK have a religious base that the school builds its foundation on; Much Woolton is a Catholic primary school. This school has about 2 classes per grade, with 30 students in each class. All of the schools in the UK require school uniforms. Much Woolton also takes pride in how much parent involvement the school has, and just by walking down the halls it shows! This one elementary school has more after school programs and sports ran by parents in just their school than most school districts have.
From the time you walk into the classroom, you can tell how much respect the students have for the teachers and also their school. The students all refer to you as "Miss" even if you tell them that they are allow to call you by your last name. It's interesting that some of the subjects are referred to by different names here, for example, math is called numerical, but it consists of the same concepts. In history the students are learning about WWII. It was such a different experience in how eager all of the kids are to learn. In Much Woolton the students get a morning and afternoon recess that is 15 minutes, which I feel definitely helps them focus better in class. At first I thought that it would be tough to get them back into their work after recess, but the students knew that it was time to get back to work. Within 30 seconds of coming back into the classroom, the students were already emerged in their studies. In addition to their morning and afternoon recess the students have an hour and fifteen minute lunch outside.
With our classrooms in the afternoon we did a question and answer session. I asked the students to first write down 5 things they want me to know about them. After they finished writing, I collected their notes and plan on writing back to all of the kids before we return to the classroom on Tuesday. After collecting their writings, I let the students ask questions for about 15 minutes. Their questions were hilarious. The students asked if I was from Texas, lived on a farm, or had any cows. Needless to say I'm pretty sure they assume Americans are all a bunch of cowboys. The students kept practicing their American accents at recess yelling "Howdy y'all" over and over. It was rather entertaining.
In the full school day that I spent at Much Woolton, I didn't have one behavioral issue, was welcomed with open arms, and I can honestly say I loved every minute of it! After school a few girls and myself choose to talk home instead of taking the bus. It was only about a 30 minute walk, but it was a very scenic walk!
After getting back from class today our professor thought it would be best if we all went out to dinner in celebration of our first day in the schools and the end of our first week of class! We all walked to a pub near campus called Fiveways that was a fun place where the locals all hang out. Pubs in England are the same thing as a restaurant at home.
On a side note, I received the news today that my cousin Steven has accepted a job in Wisconsin! He will soon be graduating from Wake Forest University with his master's degree. It's much further from home than I would like, but I am excited for your future in Wisconsin, Steven!
Tomorrow morning we are off on our first weekend trip to Edinburgh, Scotland! We have a full agenda, but unfortunately I will have very limited access to wifi. When I return I will post about all of the adventures we experience! Ta Ta!
Today was our first day of class on campus! We started talking about literacy in the classroom and did several activities about it as well. In the afternoon we had a guest speaker from the university come speak with us about the UK's educational system, from how old a child is when they start school to what topics we should anticipate to be taught in each year. I also found out that I will be working with a Year 5 (4th grade) classroom in Liverpool. Just a few of the several different things we learned about the UK's educational system and how it is different is that they learn languages starting in Year 3 (2nd grade). These languages include languages taught back home, like German and French, but also include Portuguese!
Also, from the time children start school they have a unique subject built into their day that intrigued me, community. In community they learn about a wide range of things from how to respect other people's differences, whether that be their religion or their race. Or students can also learn about how to live in a community and respecting the place by picking up any rubbish (trash) and putting it into the correct bins. I have noticed in my time here that there is never any litter in sight. You also don't see just trash cans, but 4 containers dividing trash from proper recycling bins.
After class today a few girls and myself went to an ice cream place near campus that we've had our eyes on. This ice cream shop has a sign outside that says their ice cream is made in house, with natural ingredients, and let me tell you it was the best ice cream I have ever had hands down!
I will most definitely be back for more! When we go in public I am starting to get used to all of the looks and people shouting "The Americans! The Americans!" It's definitely a weird feeling to be told that you are the one with the accent; I can't help but think that they have the accent! As we were leaving, an old British cab pulled up that I have been trying to get a picture with all week, so naturally I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a photo opportunity!
I also enjoyed some people watching as well. It's intriguing how different cultures can go about things in such a different manner. I am trying to just soak up every minute of it. I have also learned that just because the British speak English does not mean that you should expect to be able to understand their language. Between talking so quickly, their accents, and all of the slang terms I frequently find myself asking people to repeat themselves two and three times. Tomorrow morning will be my first day going to the local elementary school and working with the year 5 students. I cannot wait to meet all of the children and spend the whole school day with them! I can't wait to tell you all about that experience. I have been told so many wonderful things about the school from people within the community already!
This morning we started off the day with a brief class with some basic traveling information. After class we all went to get lunch on campus together before we went into downtown Liverpool. We took the bus to City Center where we got off and began our adventure. We didn't have anything specific in mind to see, but wanted to explore the city. We learned that Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary II, and Queen Victoria are visiting Liverpool this Sunday - Tuesday and the city is in full preparation for this major festival! We ventured to the Liverpool art museum, which was full of wonderful pieces. From there we found a HUGE yellow dog statue in the middle of City Center. After spending HOURS exploring Liverpool I still feel like I have so much more to see and explore! I cannot wait to go back downtown to see the river and the queen next Monday! Ta Ta for now though!
At 9am local time myself and 13 other Ball State students landed in Manchester, England! I had survived my first ever all-nighter, but the challenge for staying awake was not over yet! This was the longest flight I have ever been on, and it seemed like it would never end at times, but after several movies and LOTS of coffee we finally landed in Manchester. After landing, we took a coach to Liverpool. This hour-long drive was filled with scenic country side, rolling hills with flowers, and lots of animals! Not your typical farm animals from back home though, not to mention we were driving on the left side of the road and cars were flying down the highway at crazy high speeds!
After arriving at Liverpool Hope University we checked into our dorm rooms. This is where we noticed that none of the buildings had elevators, which might not sound bad at first, until you realize we're talking about 14 girls carrying 8 weeks worth of luggage up 4 flights of stairs. Not just regular stairs either, but spiral stairs.
After that entertaining experience we got to unpacking! The excitement of finally arriving was the only thing that was keeping most of us going at this point! From unpacking we headed off to one of the on campus places to eat where we all feasted on our first English meal! This is where I learned that cheeseburgers definitely do not taste the same everywhere you go. Refueled and ready to go, we went exploring through the university to kill some time until our tour of the Library. The campus is gorgeous and we had great weather for exploring!
After exploring campus, we briefly walked around town to pick up a few things! All of the cars parking in different directions was quite confusing. It was quite an adventure! The houses are so pretty here.
After doing some exploring on our own, we got an official tour of Liverpool Hope University by our professor, followed by a walk-through of the library. At this point we are all approaching 48 hours straight without sleep and the fight to stay awake was just becoming harder and harder. We kept powering through, determined to beat the jet lag. From our tour we went to dinner on campus to eat some more home cuisine, chilli. After filling up on some good food we all decided to celebrate our arrival and not falling asleep by going to the Halfway House Pub.
These past 48 hours have been a wonderful journey and I could not be any happier to finally be here! I have gotten to know so many wonderful girls and to explore this beautiful campus. I am happy, though, to finally call it a night. So, as the locals say, Cheerio!