This week we traveled to one of the special schools in Belfast, Torbank. This trip was our last educational adventure with Stranmillis, but probably the best. I really looked forward to visiting Torbank because of my endorsement in Special Education. I was curious to learn about how Special Education is approached in Northern Ireland and be able to compare the two.
While Northern Ireland has separate schools that cater to the needs of students with disabilities, their end goal is inclusion. The mentality toward including all students in the general or mainstream system was the major similarity I found between the U.S. and Belfast. I realized that most of the services that are provided in the special school are equivalent to the services provided in a special education department in a mainstream American school. One benefit I found in the special school was their ability to adapt every aspect of the school to meet the needs of their students. The funding is specifically focused on meeting the childrens’ needs, including a medical staff on site. I found this trip very educational and a great tool to use in moving forward with my own work in Special Education.
This weekend we traveled to Barcelona, Spain for our last international trip! We arrived in this new city late on Friday night and spent Saturday exploring (we walked 20 miles!). Although we only had a day in Barcelona, we made the most of our time. We explored Park Guell, La Sagrada Familia, and the beaches, ate tapas and churros con chocolate, and walked all along the main streets. The culture, architecture, language, and food made this city one of my favorite trips during my time abroad. I will definitely be back to Barcelona again in my life!
While our adventures this past week have been exciting, it has also been bittersweet. Realizing that there is only two more weeks left of our time in Belfast, I am starting to get sad to leave this city that has become home. When arriving back from Barcelona, I realized how accustomed I had become to this city and that it really was starting to feel like home. I am finally able to use the bus system and make my way around town (of course right before I am going to leave…). I am very much looking forward to being back in the United States with friends and family, but I am not ready to leave this city and its people who have welcomed me with open arms.