Sports Break

Here in Sweden the schools observe what is called “sports break” during the month of February. A sports break is a week long break designed for students and their families to be able to enjoy winter activities such as skiing and snowboarding or travel.

During this break Jessica, Delaney an I set off for a week long adventure through Europe! Our first stop was Amsterdam. We spent our days in Amsterdam wandering the canaled streets, sampling cheeses, smelling the tulips that were beginning to bloom, and touring museums. My favorite part of our visit to Amsterdam was the opportunity to walk through the Anne Frank House. This house was where Anne and her family hid in the secret annex during Nazi rule and explores the personal diary of Anne where she recounts her experiences during this time. The experience to walk through the attic where Anne, her family, and two other families were hid was extremely surreal and eye opening. I was overwhelmed by the conditions in which Anne and her family lived in during this time as described in Anne’s diary that is shared throughout the museum.

Next, we made our way to Munich, Germany. Although we had planned to visit several places during our time in Munich such as Hofbrauhaus, Marienplatz, and Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial, we did not plan for the large festival that would take over the city during our few days of travel. We accidently stumbled upon the celebration of this festival in the heart of Munich where thousands of people were dressed up dancing, eating, and drinking. The festival is called fasching, and is held the day before lent fasting begins. A variety of European countries celebrate fasching, however it can represent a variety of different things for various religious groups. Experiencing this festival in the heart of Munich was one of the most unique and exciting experiences that allowed us to be fully immersed in the German culture.

After Munich, we travelled to Paris, France. Although the weather in France was rainy and cold, it did not stop us from experiencing all that Paris has to offer such as The Louvre, Mueseè d’Orsay, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and Versailles palace. Navigating through Paris was a whirlwind in such a short amount of time, but we had the incredible opportunity to see some of the most historic and famous works of art and architecture. One of my highlights of the trip, aside from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, was the Edgar Degas exhibit at the Museè d’Orsay. I have always appreciated various styles of art, however impressionism has always been one of my favorites, especially Degas due to his particular collection of dance inspired art pieces. Being able to see some of his most famous works of art in person was incredible, and something I was able to check off of my bucket list.

Lastly, we capped off our trip with a visit to Dublin, Ireland. Although our time in Dublin was short, we were able to take a day trip to visit the Cliffs of Moher. Although each of the countries offered us a unique and once in a lifetime experience that I will forever be grateful for, standing along the edge of the cliffs will forever be a favorite memory engrained in my mind. The view of the cliffs was breathe taking as you walked dangerously along the edge. There are few feelings that will ever compare to wandering along the edge and taking in the view of the waves crashing against chiseled cliffs as you breathe in the salty air. The day finished off with a stop in Galway where we walked the streets taking in the music and sights of the small town.

Overall, our whirlwind trip offered us incredible experiences and memories that will stay with us for years to come. This trip made me incredibly grateful for the life and experiences I’ve been blessed to live. I will forever remember each unique country and the feelings of taking in the history and sights that each of them had to offer. Now that I have returned back “home” to Gothenburg, I can’t wait to be back at ISGR with my grade 1 kiddos!

Until next time,

Cayia

 

 

 

 

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Welcome to Sweden!

What a week it has been! Jessica, Delaney, and I arrived to Gothenburg, Sweden on Saturday night after a long fifteen hours of travel. Our trip was off to a unique start when my luggage was left behind in London, and didn’t arrive in Sweden until Monday night. Luckily I had a few warm clothes with me and friends who shared to help keep me warm for the few days I was without my luggage.

During our first few days in Gothenburg, we spent a lot of time adjusting to the time change, exploring Haga, and getting familiar with the bus and tram routes.  Our advisor here in Sweden, Cecilia, has shown us all of the beautiful spots in the city, along with the best places to eat! We experienced the local delicacy of Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes which are traditionally served with berry sauce-it was absolutely delicious! After a few confusing rides and lots of maps, we have finally acclimated to the public transportation systems as we learn to navigate our way through Sweden.

On Monday, we began our day by meeting the deputy principal at ISGR, The International School of the Gothenburg Region. During our meeting we were introduced to the IB curriculum that the school uses, the ways and customs of the school, and finished with a tour of the campus. We then boarded a tram to meet the children at a local ice rink where they were spending the day for a local field trip. During this time I was able to meet my cooperating teacher Hannah, her assistant Mohini, and their class of 24 grade 1 students. The kids had a blast skating for the day, however our young kiddos were all tired and ready for rest by the end of the day.

Tuesday was my first official day in the classroom with the students, which allowed me to not only gain an understanding of how their classroom works, but to also get to know the kids. Because ISGR is an international school that is primarily made up of students with families who have come to work in Sweden, there are 18 different nationalities represented in Hannah’s class alone. I have already enjoyed learning about the students and where they come from. Hannah focuses her classroom on celebrating the similarities and differences of each student which creates a welcoming environment for all and is a joy to watch as the kids do the same.

The students were all excited to have me in the class, and were eager to teach me the classroom procedures, especially for lunch time! During lunch time the students eat on plates that we use for cooking in the U.S. rather than trays like many schools do in the U.S. The students and teachers eat together in a conference style room, but there is little to no conversation until the meal is completed. Once the student finishes eating, they use hand signals to ask a teacher if they may be excused to scrape their plate and then finish their meal with a cracker. The kids have been practicing the hand signals with me and like to quiz me to make sure I remember them, especially the signal for cracker! Their lunchtime routines are much different than what I am accustomed to in the U.S., but I have really enjoyed seeing the responsibility that each student takes on by cleaning their plate and wiping up their table before getting their cracker for dessert. After the meal, they all head outside to enjoy a 40 minute playtime-even in the snow!

Although it has only been a few days, I have already learned so much about Sweden, ISGR, Swedish school systems, and my students. I cannot wait to continue this week learning, growing, and exploring through all that Gothenburg and this experience has to offer!

Enjoy the pictures of our first few days in Gothenburg below, see you next time!

Keep on traveling,

Cayia

 

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The Journey Begins

 

Thanks for joining me!

My name is Cayia Leffel, and welcome to my travel blog! During the month of February, I will be traveling to Gothenburg, Sweden to further my education as a student teacher at The International School of the Gothenburg Region. As an Early Childhood Education Major, the opportunity to explore the European School Systems excited my wanderlust heart and eager mind. During my time abroad, my colleagues and I will also be traveling to various parts of Sweden and other countries to immerse ourselves in the cultures and styles of Europe. I am a firm believer that embracing the cultures and opportunities that the world has to offer is the best way to learn and find exponential amounts of joy. As a lover of photography, education, people, and adventure,  I cannot wait to share my journey with you!

Keep exploring,

Cayia Leffel

“I travel not to cross countries off a list, but to ignite passionate affairs with destinations.” – Nyssa P. Chopra