By Eimear Bradley
During the month of November students from the Childcare and Health and Social Care department were given the opportunity to go out to Sweden for a three week trip. Ten of us participated in the trip from across the three South West College campuses, and although it was a wee bit daunting spending three weeks away from home, by the end we all said what an amazing opportunity it was and how many new experiences we had enjoyed.
Each week we participated in work placements in the city, but we also got to enjoy social activities both in our group and with the Swedish students from Victum Gymnasium College.
We stayed in a city called Helsingborg, which is in the Southern part of Sweden. It is a port city, which is busy and vibrant and had lots of places to explore. Our hotel was close to the main square, which had a range of nice restaurants and shops to enjoy. Each week we participated in work placements in the city, but we also got to enjoy social activities both in our group and with the Swedish students from Victum Gymnasium College. Their college is very different to ours and only teaches childcare and HSC students, rather than all the vocational areas covered at SWC.
My time in Sweden allowed me to work within the International school in Helsingborg, working within the pre-school, Grade one and Grade five classes. From Monday to Thursday, 8am to 3pm, I worked within the placement, supporting children in their numeracy and language, assisting the teachers and helping to plan for a school assembly. Compared to schools I have worked at here, the school was particularly advanced in ICT and children spent time each day using iPads and chromebooks to complete tasks.
The school really encourages children’s independence. This was evident at lunchtime. Children served their own food onto their plates, with a wide variety of foods, such as meats, pastas, vegetables and potatoes on offer. There were also vegetarian meals available and all the children enjoyed food together. No children had their own packed lunches and teachers sat alongside the children, with everyone eating together.
On a Friday we went to the Victum College and observed Swedish college classes. The teachers were really welcoming and friendly. It wasn’t all work though, and at various time over the three weeks we got to go out and have some really great trips. These included a moose safari, laser doming, ice skating and horse riding.
Helsingborg is not very far from Copenhagen in Denmark and we got to enjoy a day trip there. There are two ways to Copenhagen, by ferry over the water or by train over the bridge. On one of the visits we went by ferry and visited Trivoli, a theme park in the city, and had a great day enjoying all the rides.
The trip was a truly amazing experience, and I am so happy I got the opportunity to be part of the programme. I have gained a lot of new skills and qualities that will help me in my future career path. I have also made so many new friends and made so many memories that will remain with me for a lifetime. Although we didn’t all know each other at the start, we got to know each other quickly and have made good friendships with both each other and the students in Sweden. We are looking forward to meeting up again with the Swedish students when they come to visit us here in April. There is another opportunity for students from our department to go out in February and I would tell anyone considering it to definitely go, this experience has really helped me to focus on what I want to do in the future.