Today Darcy, Nicole, and I had the chance to visit Annedalsskolan, a local Swedish school. We spent the morning and afternoon observing in a 6th grade classroom and loved every second!
When we first came into the room, we were able to give introductions to the students and show them a short powerpoint presentation we created on Texas! We showed them some of the things we hold dearest: TCU Campus, Fort Worth Stockyards/Rodeo, Tex-Mex, and Cowboy Boots! We even showed them a picture of the state of Texas in comparison to Europe to give them an idea of just how BIG Texas is! At first the students were anxious to use their English, however after showing the presentation on the Lonestar State hands were shooting up anxiously with questions about all things Texas!
We spent about 45 minutes answering questions and then the sweet teacher, Jenny, prepared a "panel" of 5 students to have interviews with while the rest of the students went out for break. In the interview, we took turns asking one another questions about anything and everything. This was such a special time to get to know the students better, and to see so many of the similarities we share with them and that they share with our students back home!
When break time was over, a different group of sixth grade students met us in the classroom to take us on a full tour of the school. One of the boys pulled me aside and told me how happy he was that we were there and that we were the first Americans he has ever met. SO COOL. I hope we made a good impression! The students shared with us their dreams of someday visiting America, and even said after our presentation that Texas will be on their list. ;)
When we came back from the tour of the school, we observed the students taking a math assessment. I couldn't believe how fast time flew by, and it was already time for us to go! The students were sad to see us leave but their teacher Jenny insisted we take a group photo together and I am SO thankful we did! I will attach the picture as soon as I get it.
I absolutely loved the visit at Annedalsskolan. The students were beyond respectful, and so excited that we were there. Today was such a beautiful reminder that no matter your background or where you come from or look like, we are all more similar than we are different! In just the short day we shared with the students, I will never forget them and the kindness they showed us!
This past week ISGR was off school for Sport Lov. Sport Lov is a Swedish holiday that is given to the students and their families for the purpose of spending the week skiing before winter is over for the year (SO cool!)
While our students were away on their amazing adventures, Darcy and I got to have some adventures of our own! There are no words to describe the past week (let alone the past month!) of my life. Never did I think I would get to see and do the things I have been able to do. This opportunity has been life changing, and will stick with me for the rest of my life! Best. Week. Ever. Best. Month. Ever.
First things first- Saturday morning we boarded a train to Copenhagen, Denmark and spent the day/night exploring the city. We got there on a COLD day - even colder than Sweden and that is saying a lot! By the time we got there in the afternoon, most stores and restaurants were closed - but we loved seeing the scenery of the famous painted houses!
Our flight left out Sunday early in the afternoon for Paris, France! We spent two days and three nights in Paris and we packed in probably more than most people could do in a lifetime there! Our first stop Monday morning was to Notre Dame. We left our AirBnb at 7 AM and WOW I am so glad we did. We got to Notre Dame around 7:30 in the morning after a short tram ride, and we were lucky enough to be one of (maybe) 10 people in the entire church. It was the most breathtaking and inspiring place I have ever been. There are absolutely no words that could ever do it justice. I was able to pray and take in the scenery of the ancient building with no disturbances or crowds. We even caught the tail end of mass and were able to watch from afar which was SO COOL. This is without a doubt one of my top 5 memories from our entire trip.
We fueled up at breakfast for the rest of the day. Our plan was to hit all of the major landmarks we possibly could, and I have to say we did a pretty good job! We went to visit the outside of the famous Lourve, although we did not get to go in for the full experience. We then visited the Arc De Triomphe, a monumental arch and column dedicated by Napoleon to the glory of the Grand Army. The details even from far away were absolutely incredible. With so much intricacy is is crazy to think that human hands are capable of creating something so amazing!
On the way to our next stop we took a quick detour for some essential items.. Lauduree macaroons! Holy moly, if you have ever heard someone say these things are overrated they were lying to you. I am embarrassed (or should I be proud?) to tell you just how many macaroons Darcy and I went through in 24 hours. (I'll give you a hint... it was more than 20). Next up - The Eiffel Tower!!!!
We were able to go to the Eiffel Tower twice in our trip to Paris, once during the day and once at night. I am so glad we were able to do both because we found new angles, and new beauties each time! The Eiffel Tower at night can take your breath away. We packed a picnic and watched the lights twinkle from right below. Wow... it was one of the most amazing nights of my life. No picture could do this view justice!
The next morning, we woke up early to visit Versailles, a royal palace on the outskirts of France. We learned so much rich history of the royal families and the conflicts that led up to the French Revolution. Not to mention the place was INSANELY beautiful. It blows my mind to think at one time people actually lived there, and that was their everyday view. We spent the entire day exploring the grounds - and let me tell you there was a LOT of it! After our visit at Versailles came to a close, it was already time to board a flight to our next destination - Dublin, Ireland!
We landed in Ireland around 11:30 at night, and by the time we made it to where we were staying it was around 1:30 in the morning! Needless to say, nothing too exciting happened our first night in so we went straight to bed to catch up on some sleep before our 7:30 am tour of the country side! This tour took us on a 12 hour trip around the Ireland country side, and included a stop at the famous Cliffs of Moher! This day is without a doubt one of my most favorite from our entire trip. I have never felt more at peace than when we exploring the hills and fields of Ireland! The views were unreal, the people were incredible, and the memories I will cherish forever!
The tour got in late at night, so we grabbed a bite to eat and settled in for the evening. The next morning we woke up with a mission: Irish souvenirs. We had gotten multiple recommendations both leading up to the trip and from people we had met in our time there, so we went to many different Irish specialty shops that blew us away. We spent the majority of our money in Ireland because the stuff was just TOO GOOD and we knew we would want to remember our times here! That night, we went to the famous Temple Bar where we got to listen to some authentic and live Irish folk music. We were absolutely mesmerized and stayed in the audience listening for over two hours. I went home and downloaded a lot of the songs we heard that night - I am obsessed!!! Such an awesome way to end the Ireland leg of our trip.
The last leg of our journey was spent in Edinburgh, Scotland. Before this trip, I actually didn't know a ton about Scotland. However, this trip gave me the opportunity to fall in love with the rich history, the landscape, and the people! Saturday was our first morning there, and we arrived at 8:30 (we left our Airbnb in Ireland at 3:30...) and we dropped our bags and took off running! By this part in the trip, our bodies were getting tired but there were still so many amazing things to see and we weren't going to stop until we had made the absolute most of our two days there! We set out for the Edinburgh castle, an INSANE structure that is high above the city. We climbed to the top and spent about 3 hours exploring the fortress/renaissance palace. We were able to learn so much about the role of Scotland in various battles and wars throughout history, and learn about the kings and queens who once ran their land.
After exploring the castle, we walked to Victoria Street, which is the place of inspiration JK Rowling had for Diagon Alley in the series Harry Potter. Although I do not know a ton about Harry Potter, it was so cool to see the street in real life. Much of the city of Edinburgh was an inspiration to JK Rowling so at many times I did feel like I was in a fairy tale. The street was off the beaten path, and a little difficult to find. But I can see why she was inspired!
Darcy and I spent the rest of the afternoon strolling and shopping the Royal Mile, a mile long area with street performers, cafes, and specialty shops! Along the way we stopped for Afternoon Tea, a staple for many of the locals!
The next morning we woke up early for a full day tour of the Scottish country side and Loch Ness! I get pretty bad motion sickness and the windy, curvy, steep and narrow roads were giving me a pretty tough time so after about 2 hours I had to move up to the very front of the bus - copilot status with our 100 percent Scottish tour guide, Jaime! This ended up being one of the best decisions I could have made because I got full on views of all the scenery, and even heard some extra details, descriptions, and stories than what he was giving the rest of the bus. We laughed and talked for hours during our long drives up and down the country. The views were amazing, and Loch Ness was spooky on the windy, rainy, cold day we were there. I loved the excitement of the many mysteries Scotland had to offer. Even though we didn't spot Nessie, our cruise around the deepest Loch (lake) in Scotland was absolutely unforgettable!
Well... so there it is! A summary of our 10 days, some of the most incredible of my entire life, that will never do these trips full justice! I wish I could accurately put into words the amazing things we were able to see and do. I am so grateful for these experiences! We arrived back in Sweden late Sunday night and started back teaching early this morning. I can't believe it is our last week here - I am not ready to leave our sweet kids and this place that I have fallen in love with and that feels so much like home!
This has been such a fun week with our kiddo's because yesterday was the SCIENCE FAIR! All week our students were preparing projects on energy to showcase what they had learned throughout their 6-week unit. Yesterday, all their hard work pair off when parents and students from the school were invited to walk through the classroom and learn from them as experts in energy.
I was BEYOND impressed by the students in my class. They worked diligently, cooperated with a partner (if they chose to have one), and put so much careful thought into each step of the project. For this project, they were required to choose a specific type of energy, describe how it changes or is transferred, provide a demonstration that depicts the change, and create a poster with a scientific lab report, graph, and research findings. Throughout the week when I was walking around to each group, I was enthralled by the topics they were choosing to present on. Rather than choosing topics they knew everything about, many groups decided to research topics completely out of the box. ISGR (International School of the Gothenburg Region) focuses on the development of the whole child and sets out to make them question the world around them in a thoughtful, respectful way.
I loved getting to see them in action when parents and students filled the room and they were able to put on their teacher caps to really break down the information and present it in a meaningful way. Some of the students who wow'ed me the most were the ones who usually take a more passive role in the classroom discussions but really came to life during their showcase and took charge to present the information. I loved seeing how proud they were of themselves and the hard work they put in. I loved hearing them reflect on the things they would do differently if they were given the chance to do this project over. The students in my grade 5 class are wise beyond their years and understand that we are constantly growing in our learning and are eager to do better and work harder with each task they are given. It was so fun to see their personalities come out with each presentation that was put on. These students are one a kind and I love learning from them!
Brace yourselves for a long post ;)
This weekend Darcy, Mckenna and I had the chance to go to AMSTERDAM! While this city had never been number one of the list of places I hoped to visit someday - after 2 and a 1/2 days my mind was completely changed and I didn't want ever to leave! This weekend was an absolute dream.
Darcy and I packed and brought all of our travel bags with us to school on Friday morning. We tried to pack as light as possible because we knew we would want to bring lots of goodies back with us! (Packing for this weekend was sort of like practice for our 8 days of straight travel next week. Darcy and I will be going to Copenhagen, Paris, Ireland, and Scotland with just carry on's in which we hope to pack an almost empty bag so we can shop in each of the places we visit. We'll have to update you on that one seeing as I am a chronic over packer.) When school was out for the weekend, we met Mckenna at the Tram stop and set out on our journey! We rode the tram as close as we could, and then switched to a bus that would take us the rest of the way to the airport.
By 8:30 that night we had made it to Amsterdam! We dropped our bags at the place we were staying and set out to meet up with some Froggie Friends, Fallon, Amanda, Emily, and Tori, who are student teaching in The Netherlands! It was such a breath of fresh air to see them and felt so much like home. We are so used to seeing each other in the block every single day it just felt so right to be back together, even if it was only for the weekend!
Saturday morning us three Sweden ladies set out for the Anne Frank house - definitely the activity I was most excited for and it did NOT disappoint! I was devastated, moved, humbled, and inspired. I was unable to take pictures inside - but I did snap one of my pal Stanley in front of the place her family went into hiding for over two years. At the end of the house tour, I sat in a dark room listening to the quotes of those who had visited before me. One woman shared that Anne's would-have's must become our opportunities and that we should live this way every single day. Another man, who is also Jewish shared a story that he used to speak with his sister growing up and wonder if an event such as the Holocaust were to ever happen again who of their friends and loved ones would risk everything to protect them. Wow, talk about a wake up call. I pray I will always fight for others, and stand up for what is right no matter how difficult that may be. Another quote brought me to tears and really sums up my feelings about both my visit as well as recent events in the world: "We like to this that this event is something that could never happen again. But it is." I will never forget this experience.
After we left the museum, we decided to walk to a local market that was selling all things from cheese, breads, pastries, vintage clothing, and much more! At the market I bought a postcard with a beautiful picture of an Amsterdam canal that had a letter (in dutch) on the back which was mailed in 1991. I can't wait to translate it! Darcy and Mckenna bought palm-sized blocks of Gouda cheese and we spent the rest of the day eating entire bites... No shame.
From there we went to meet up again with our Froggie friends Fallon and Amanda for some lunch! We decided to get crepes - my first time! I ordered a sweet crepe called the Funky Monkey and it had Nutella, bananas, strawberries and powdered sugar. It. Was. Unreal. No picture could ever do it justice.
After out bellies were full we made our way to the famous "I Amsterdam" letters to snap some pictures! We knew this was a major tourist attraction in Amsterdam but in no way were we expected as many people as there were! Holy smokes - people were climbing all over the area to get the perfect picture. We had to be pretty patient, but I think we got some pretty fun pictures to show from all the madness! To end our day, we took a canal tour throughout all of Amsterdam. So magical.
Sunday came before we knew it and we were ready to live up our last day in the 'Dam! We grabbed a quick breakfast at a local cafe and then walked to the Van Gogh museum. Seriously never thought I would have enjoyed this as much as I did! I have a whole new appreciation on Van Gogh as an artist and loved journeying through the different stages of his life through his art. After the museum we grabbed a quick hot dog and made our way through side streets and stumbled upon such fun boutiques (SIDE NOTE: In high school Mckenna was in a hot dog eating competition and ate 27 hot dogs. Literally what.) Before we knew it, it was the late afternoon so we grabbed a quick early dinner at Cafe George (beautiful) and then grabbed our bags to make our way to the airport.
So thankful to travel with people who will make the most of every second with you! Even though we were in Amsterdam for only 48 hours I feel like we were able to experience SO much. I love traveling and doing life with this people! We made it home around 12:30 in the morning and were so thankful to be back in our home sweet Sweden. My precious 5th grade kiddo's made the transition back so easy, because I wouldn't want to be anywhere else this week than with them!
If you made it all the way through this post, I am BEYOND impressed. Until next time!
Today during the last hour of the school day I got a little slice of home with INTEREST HOUR! Back home at Vandagriff, the school I am student teaching with for the semester, my third grade class participates in an extension activity called Genius Hour. During this time, students are given time to individually work on a passion project- something they love or want to know more about that they will research, create something, and present. The project can be ANYTHING. The week before I left to go abroad was the first time my teacher introduced this to the class and let me tell you, they LOVE it.
While the name may differ a little bit, my fifth grade students in the International School of Gothenburg do the SAME thing! How crazy that an activity happening in small town Aledo, Texas is just as beloved 5,000 miles away in Gothenburg, Sweden. The students were so excited to share with me the ideas for their projects, which they are currently in the research and creation stage. In two weeks they will present their final products. The project topics range from coding their own video game, creating their own recipe, researching and building a castle modeled after famous structures, and so many more. I'm so excited to see the final result! I am attaching pictures of the inquiry/brainstorming sheet the students must complete that basically checks to make sure what they are focusing on is relevant and meaningful. The sheet asks the students to connect the work they are doing with their project to the classroom values and concepts which allows the learning to come full circle. I love seeing students work on things they are so passionate about and I am so thankful for teachers both at home and abroad that value this kind of learning!
Today was our first day at the International School in Gothenburg. Darcy, Nicole, and I are placed in the PYP (Primary Years Program) in the 5th grade. Our three teachers team teach and do pretty much everything together. In fact, the classes switch during the day between each teacher based on ability level, subject, and so on. There are many times during the day that the classes combine and the three teachers work together to deliver the lesson. The school is the most amazing melting pot, with kids, teachers, and faculty coming from near and far away. My teacher, Christian, is from Australia and has lived in Sweden for the past 13 years. I was amazed at the community within the school - they have so much pride in diversity and believe their differences make them stronger. SO COOL.
Between all three 5th grade classes, I will be working with 60 students. In my homeroom class there are students from all over the world, Syria, India, China, England, Romania, Mexico, Canada, and so many more amazing places. These children are BRILLIANT and put so much effort into their learning. This is my first time in a 5th grade classroom and I left school today thinking I need to brush up on pretty much... everything...
I can't wait to learn more about the routines of the school and get to know the students better. I love talking to everyone about where they come from and hearing how they ended up in Gothenburg, Sweden. We weren't the only ones asking questions... we had a lot of fun questions about the Lonestar State too! The hot topics from Day 1 included:
-Donald Trump (x 1000)
-Texan's need to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights
-Don't Mess With Texas
-64 oz Steaks
It is too funny hearing the notions and stereotypes people have about Texas. Perhaps the funniest part is that many of them were a little too true.
After school I met up with Darcy and Mckenna for Fika (Swedish practice of an afternoon tea/coffee break!) We stumbled upon a retro second hand shop and left with velvet skirts and silk scarfs. Too fun! I am so excited for the rest of the week at school and continuing to explore this incredible city. We are finally learning how to say the name of the place we live without getting laughed at for the pronunciation so I think that is a good sign!
Adjö (bye) for now!
We made it!!!
Last night around 7 o'clock our flight landed in Gothenburg, Sweden. 24 hours after leaving Dallas we were finally in the place we would be able to call home for the next four weeks. Our sweet international coordinator, Cecilia, eagerly met us at the airport with a TCU sign in hand. After some seriously impressive loading, we managed to fit three (huge) checked bags, three (large) carry on's, and three (not so) personal sized items in Cecilia's car, a Ford Focus. She took us on the scenic route to our apartment building and we were able to see some of the main landmarks in the city. Pictures of my sweet apartment will come in the next few days!
Today was a BIG day! Not only were we able able to see so much of this amazing city, but it is also precious Kenny's birthday! Darcy, Mckenna and I met up around 8:30 this morning to walk to Willy's, the grocery store next door to our apartment building. When we stepped outside we were greeted by SNOW! We have been told this is the first snow fall in over a month, a very rare occurrence for Gothenburg during the month of February! I'd like to think of it as a little welcome gift! I'll be honest when I tell you I have not a clue what I actually bought at Willy's. I tried my best to look at pictures and piece together word clues. The only thing I do know is that they had PEANUT BUTTER! Let's just say I stocked up.
After dropping off our groceries, we set out to find a cafe for a little birthday breakfast! Even though I had the address plugged into my phone, I managed to get us lost... twice... and we ended up in a tiny little cafe called Kafferosten. The food was amazing and the staff was so friendly even when we asked a million questions.
We set off to meet Cecilia back at the apartment, where she gave us maps and took us on a quick sightseeing tour of the schools we will be working in. We then stopped at 7-11 to buy our Tram passes and she treated us to some famous puff pastries which are only sold two months out of the year in Sweden! In the afternoon, we met up with Agnes, a resident of Gothenburg who studied at TCU last semester, and her two friends who are hoping to be admitted into TCU's abroad program! They spent the afternoon showing us how to use the city's transportation system, taking us to the mall to get some of the things we forgot (oops), and talking about life in Sweden! It was such a fun afternoon getting to be with them and seeing the city from their eyes. I can't wait to see them again soon. We ended the night with some Take-Away sushi and more dessert for the birthday girl!
Tomorrow is our first day in the schools, and we are anxious to get started! I will report back soon with information on the school, my mentor teacher, and more of our adventures!
To my friends, family, and precious third grade kiddo's,
Well, today is the day! I can't believe in just two hours I will be boarding an 8 and a 1/2 hour flight to London, and connecting 2 and a 1/2 more hours to Gothenburg, Sweden! For the next four weeks, I will be student teaching at an international school in the fifth grade. And you know what? As much as I want to tell you that I am prepared for this adventure, the truth is I'm not! Nope. Not even a little. And that's OKAY!
At first I wanted to seem like I had it all together, and that being gone for a month was no big deal. It may seem silly to say it, because a month isn't THAT long but I'll be honest with you... I have spent my entire life in Texas, and while I have had many opportunities to take trips and be away from home I have never been this far outside of my comfort zone. And yet here I am... Packed and ready to board a flight. The crazy thing is that for the first time in weeks my heart is calm knowing this is exactly where I am supposed to be. No matter how scared I am of flying and no matter how many miles away from home I will be - this is my time to GO!
Just this morning I had a dear friend encourage me with this: "Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge." Psalm 62:8. So here I am.... at gate 27A. And I'm ready to trust!
Sweden - here I come!!!
Hey y'all! My name is Mandy Moore and I am Texas girl living in a Swedish world. I am a Senior Early Childhood Education major at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas who has decided to take the leap of faith to go abroad. Follow along with me as I spend four weeks student teaching in Gothenburg, Sweden and having the adventure of a lifetime! Check back for Adventures and MOORE!