Part 1 – Day 1:
After traveling a long distance from all part of Australia, our “small” group of 14 made it to the hotel safe and sound. I was nervous at first, not knowing exactly how the first meet and greet would go but most of all, I was grateful for some authentic human interaction. It was definitely a long-haul flight as some would say and I definitely did not enjoy the solo flight over as this was to be my second ever overseas trip ever. As one who has grown up with a large family, it was odd not having someone to talk to for 36 hours but I made do with the large selection movies provided in flight.
Making my way to the hotel was quite easy but I would not recommend trying to walk from the station to the hotel with a luggage. It is definitely not worth saving the euros, as I had originally thought, if you are not into a casual hour walk in the cold. We briefly met our onsite coordinator, exchanged names and hit the hay.
Day 2: The Weekend
The first impression of the group was friendly, everyone was eager to explore the city and happy to chat. It was interesting meeting people from all walks of life and parts of Australia. Our weekend was spent exploring, walking, talking, eating and getting to know everyone in the group.
We met up for lunch at a quaint little Austrian café, also known as, “Burger King” and then continued exploring the spectacular city of Graz. One ingenious idea my roommate and I had was to scout out the University location so that we could find it easily in the morning... only to find out that we had class on a separate campus, the very next day (oops!).
Day 3: FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!
Back to the daily grind we went with our first day of university kicking off at 9 am. We met up with our on-site coordinator, Julia, down at the lobby and managed to catch the right tram. Luckily, we did not have to pack in like sardines as we were to experience during another early morning rush. We were met with a warm welcome from the lecturers and promptly began our classes.
I found the lecturers to be engaging, friendly and a pleasure to learn from. Being able to discuss current issues and aims for future classroom motivated me to want to create a better learning environment for my future students. It was interesting to also learn about the inclusive aspects of the education system and how Austria’s school system is similar yet so different compared to what I have grown up with in Australia.
After our first day of school was our welcome dinner, held at a traditional Austrian restaurant. Our program coordinator, George, met the group with warm smiles and an infectiously happy attitude. He even recommended which of the dishes he believed were exceptional. We were also joined by our Lecturer, Edvina, and on-site coordinate, Julia. It was quite fun interacting with everyone outside the classroom and creating life-long memories with people from different walks of life.
Day 4: Another Day, Another Class
We learnt the hard way that peak hour means jam packed trams and sadly, four out of the fourteen had to wait for the next tram. Luckily, our group waited for the stragglers.
Day 5: A trip to greener pastures
Today began with a nice early rise for our 8 am train ride to Gleisdorf for our first field. We arrived at Chance B, an organisation. The purpose of this service is to help support the move towards the UN convention expectations of open access to all.