This three week experience has really changed me as an individual and as a teacher forever. I have grown as a person in many ways. I learned to take in the beauty of a situation and take a step back and relax. The people I had encounters with were very humble and enjoyed each day of life. From our bus drivers to store clerks, they wanted to make sure you as a customer and as a person had a good experience and they loved to know and talk to everyone. We meet one young male who really made me realize how I have grown up in a great family and how important they are to me. He loves his family and he loves his home town while he showed us around he made sure to tell us everything he knew. Making me want to learn more about where I’m from and know what is right here in Pittsburgh. I learned to take a breath and relax which is one thing that will change everything in my life. I also learned that if you put your mind to doing something great things will come out of it. I learned this coming on this trip and taking the chance, and when climbing a 2,000ft mountain.
I grew as a professional within my placement. I learned that I building a relationship is key when teaching students. I know that sounds funny because I've been told that each semester but this trip shows in in action and made me realize how important it is to build that relationship with your students and co-workers. While at my placement if a relationship wasn't started they would not interact with me. I learned so much about each individual and showed them that I cared which made leaving hard. Another thing that my placement did was made connections with what the service users wanted to do. The classes were choosing by the service user’s interest and they got to sign up for classes that they wanted to go to. Many also did individual projects that they were interested in like one service user was making a yellow submarine from the Beatles. Lastly getting to know your co-workers will help in the work setting with making connections with students you have and it also allows your students know that everyone needs to work together and not against each other.
My academic goals are still the same with what and who I want to teach however this experience makes me want to learn more about connections in a classroom or connections with activities and an individual with a disability. So I could see myself wanting to do research on this in my future.
I was surprised how easily I just went day by day with little planning and if the bus or we were running late it didn't matter and I was not stressed about being late. Normally I am always on time or early for work or even meeting with friends. So when things were late I thought I would stress more however I didn't so that was something that I realized is not life threatening that I don’t need to run like a mad woman and I can relax a little before freaking out that I maybe late.
While in Ireland my fears pretty much disappeared I let go of my fears after the first day when we got lost walking to town on our first night. I figured if we can get lost and home on the first night that we would be able to find our way and exploring is how one will discover more by just letting go and taking in the experience.
Studying abroad has changed my view on the world making me know how beautiful other places can be and how many places have different outlooks that may be more impacting for students learning and individuals in a lifestyle. The single greatest benefit of studying abroad was the experience as a whole. I loved getting to know my roommates on my own and not making prior judgments. I learned to trust myself and to let go of control allowing me to grow as an individual. Being away from my family and friends showed me that I can stand on my own and I am a strong individual that will grow more with each experience. My favorite experience was definitely in my placement gaining more experience and allowing others into my life to gain a relationship really allowed an impacting gain for me and loving the service users I worked with. Going into the day service center each day was something I looked forward to and loved walking into such a great supportive environment.
My advice for the next participants would be to let go and enjoy your three weeks because time does fly. Go out each night enjoy explore new places even if that’s not what you would normally do at home who knows you may love it and may change your life. Take a step and let your heart lead you and do not let your fears hold you back. I would definitely study abroad again if I was giving the chance again. I loved learning and loved meeting new people. Where I would study wouldn't matter because everywhere has a different story and learning can come from everything. I would go back to Ireland however I would like to go somewhere else and learn more about other places in the world.