It was the first opportunity offered by Eastern Kentucky University for students to teach overseas. When they came to talk to us about the trip, they talked about starting a legacy and how it would look good on resumes. Those were deciding factors, but I mostly love traveling, and I knew this was my chance to experience life away from Kentucky for a month.
What was your favorite part about Ireland?
My favorite part about Ireland was seeing how genuine and nice everyone was everywhere that we went. They welcomed us into Ireland, and were genuinely interested to know what we thought of their country and how it differed from America. Irish people are just wonderful people all around!
What made your experience abroad unique?
My experience abroad was unique because there were only two of us, so we got to experience life together and see things that we wouldn't have seen if there was a big group of us. For instance, we had not planned to go to a rugby game or to the Game of Thrones set. Little random adventures set it apart from the normally scheduled program, where everything we did had to go by the schedule. I felt more relaxed.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The local staff checked in with us almost every day. They made sure that we were adjusting fine and were there to help us with any questions we had. It was nice to be able to text them and get a quick reply.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
I wish that I had gotten out more at night. After packed days with school or weekend outings we didn't want to go back out into the cold. But looking back, I wish we could have explored Dublin more. We saw a lot, but there was a lot more that we could've seen while we were there.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
Throughout the week, we got up around 7 a.m. and got ready for school. Then, we would head to the bus stop around 7:50 a.m. and the bus came around 8:10 a.m., depending on how many people were riding that morning. Once we got off the bus and walked the rest of the way to school, we went into our classrooms or into the staff room. School started at 9:00 a.m. and it ended at 2:30 p.m.
After school we usually went home and relaxed or wrote lesson plans for our observations on Tuesdays. Sometimes we would go to Dun Laoghaire and grab Starbucks or walk around. Dinner was at 6:00 p.m. every night. After dinner, we talked to our host family for a bit and then we headed back upstairs. We usually went to bed around 11:00 p.m. or 11:30 p.m.
On weekends, we would wait for a text from Daniel, our guide/mentor/chauffeur while in Ireland, to see when to be ready for him to pick us up and explore Ireland on Saturdays. Sundays were for relaxing, having a "duvet day," or exploring Dublin on our own.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
Besides binging on Netflix, I really liked going out and finding new restaurants, coffee shops, ice cream shops, or small shops. I found the best places around Dublin City Centre. We knew our checkpoints to and from the bus stops, and so we would walk around and find new places within the city. My favorite was probably walking down Grafton Street, in Dublin City Centre, and stopping to watch people perform on the street corner; it felt a little like being in New York City.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
We stayed with the Sheridan family. John and Jacquie were our host parents, and they had three sons, Eoghan, Ronan, and Cormac, but only Cormac still lived at home. Amber and I shared a room upstairs and the bathroom was beside our room. Santi, another student from Spain, stayed in the room across from ours. The family was very welcoming and treated us as children, but also as adults. We were given a key, to come in and out as we pleased. My favorite part was that the family treated us as if we had been there for a while, and it didn't feel like we were just guests staying there for a month.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Everyone should know that it's not just a fun getaway. I still had school responsibilities, but I had to learn to balance responsibility and fun. Also, everyone should know that they will have the best experience if they go, and it will fly by if they don't take in every moment they can. When it was over, I felt like I had only been there a week.
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
Now that I'm home, I feel like I gained a greater knowledge of how different life is in Ireland compared to Kentucky. I have a lot of experiences that I can only share through photos and stories. I gained much more respect and love for Irish people and Irish culture.
Would you recommend Classport to others? Why?
Definitely! I would recommend student teaching in Ireland, and working with Classport in general, to everyone! The program and the organization gave me experiences that I wouldn't have had if I had only student taught in Kentucky.
Traveling to other places is a passion of mine, and if anyone likes travel, then Ireland has to be at the top of your list. You won't get any other experience like it. Plus, they have the best sunrises, sunsets, and views in general! Why wouldn't you want to go?!
Patience graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She is originally from Harrodsburg, Kentucky, and currently lives in Richmond. Patience has traveled to New York City, China, and Ireland, all with different organizations while in college. She is now living in Richmond, working at Kohl’s and as the Title I person for a Catholic private school.