Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Trains, Tea and Tesco

Yesterday we finally arrived in Westport, Ireland, after a 7 hour plane ride and a 3 hour train ride. 

The view from the train was very scenic , full of views of sheep, cattle and rolling green hills. Sounds a lot like Kentucky, huh? 
The first day of school started at 9 am which is extremely different from the 7:50 start time of most schools I've taught at in America. The school I'm teaching at is a school rich with Irish culture. All of the students and staff speak the Irish language, learn traditional Irish songs and all play instruments. The principal was adamant about the students being aware of their roots and culture. I really enjoyed that aspect of the school. 

The school has around 220 students and parents put their children on a wait list to attend that school around age 4-5 months. I was amazed at that information she told us. 

Another thing that differed from the American schools was that they take 2 separate breaks in the day. One break is 20 minutes starting at 11 am and tea and coffee is enjoyed by the staff in the lounge during this time. The second break is a hour long lunch from 12:45-1:45. I was amazed at the amount of breaks that the teachers and students took during the day. ALSO, every time I turned around I was being offered tea and coffee.

Another difference is that the students call the teachers by their first name. I would be múinteoir Gretchen to them which directly translates to teacher Gretchen. I think this is neat and a different take on the teacher student relationship. 

I cannot express how kind, friendly, warm and inviting that the staff has been to myself and my peers. It has been very easy to get acclimated to the new environment because of the welcoming people. I'm extremely grateful for this. 

The students asked us a lot of questions and the top questions were:
-Do you like KFC (typical, right?)
-Have you had Starbucks (duh)
-Have you ever seen a Lamborghini 
-Have you ever been to Las Vegas (random) 
-Do you have a lot of technology in America (too much) 

The weather also reminded me of Kentucky for the fact that it was 4 different seasons all in one day. I looked outside the lounge and stated that it turned out to be a nice day after it stopped raining; thirty minutes later it was raining sideways. Eventually it turned out to be a nice but blustery day on our 30 minute commute walk back home from school.  

On the commute we saw beautiful scenery and sights from the quaint town of Westport. 
The greenway we walk on to and from school. 
View of the town from atop the greenway on our walk from school. 

Myself and the river that runs through town. 
Craugh Patrick (mountain) in the background. I learned that a long time ago, Catholics would walk up the mountain as a religious pilgrimage barefoot as a penance. 
I plan on climbing Craugh Patrick this weekend BUT with shoes. 

The sign of the wonderful B&B we are staying at. 

If you know me, I LOVE going into different grocery stores that are new to me. Since I've been in Westport I have already went to THREE different supermarkets. Tesco, SuperValu and a small German grocery store that reminded me of the American store Aldi. I know grocery stores aren't very exciting but I loved every minute of it. 

I'm anxious to continue blogging and adding more pictures about my experience in the Gaelscoil school in Wesport, Ireland. 

Slán (goodbye in Gaelic) 


  1. I loved hearing about your day. The school reminds me of my early years. We used to enjoy long recesses.Where we ran, climbed and learned to get along with each other. Enjoy this wonderful opportunity. I know this place and it's people will hold a place in your heart for years to come.

  2. Sure does look beautiful! We miss you very much,,,When Maria saw your picture, she yelled "that's my Mittis G". Have fun and see you soon!