Week Two of Inclusive Education: Snow, Hallstatt & lots of Site Visits!
Monday the 15th of January, we were able to sleep in a little bit as our next planned excursion was not until the afternoon which was great considering the weekend just gone was so jam packed with activities we all needed a good sleep in. In the afternoon we made our way to a small primary school called ‘Volksschule Viktor Kaplan Primary School’ which is a mainstream primary school, here we got to observe and learn more about the Austrian schooling system. After our excursion as a group we all went to an Irish pub for dinner.
Tuesday the 16th of January was another full-on day at university! Today we learnt more about Inclusive school development and quality management in Austrian schools. We were lucky enough to finish our unit earlier than scheduled today so most continued to explore Graz as it has snowed a lot over the weekend, Graz is so stunning covered in snow.
Wednesday the 17th of January was a busy day as we had an excursion to Chance B which is an organisation which supports people with disabilities in the eastern part of Styria for all their life. Chance B was about 45 minutes away from your university, we had to take a private bus there as there was no way there via public transport. As part of this excursion we also had an opportunity to visit and observe the special school down the road which is only one of a few special schools left as the Austrian school systems goal is to phase out special schools. I really enjoyed this part of the excursion as we got to meet and interact with some of the students enrolled at the school, I even got to roleplay with the students as a priest and baptise a baby the students named Coraline. After our excursion we were all invited to the university at night for pizza and a movie! The movie was called ‘the intouchables’ and was completely in French but it was a great movie, and all were able to follow the subtitles and enjoy the movie.
Thursday the 18th of January was again a busy day as we had class scheduled in as well as an excursion. In our class today, the lecturer combined us with her masters of inclusive education class, this was at first a littler nerve racking for most but by the end we were all chatting getting along great, I really appreciated the effort the Austrian students put in by attempting to speak English the entire time.
After our class we ventured off to the main campus where our lecturer met us and escorted us to the disability resource center at Graz University to listen to the head of the department talk about her role at the university and how they adapt their learning and environment to allow all students and equal opportunity to learn.
On Friday the 19th of January we all had the opportunity to visit the Hallstatt as part of an included excursion, the Hallstatt is a village on Lake Hallstatt’s western shore surrounded by beautiful mountains. The Hallstatt is best known for its production of salt, here we were given a guided tour by a local who has lived at Hallstatt her entire life including many generations behind her. Personally, this has been my favourite excursion as part of this program as the views were unbelievable, we even got to make a snow man and enjoy some real Austrian winter.
Saturday the 20th of January and Sunday the 21stof January was our weekend off, so many decided to go away for the weekend or day. We all split off into little groups and explored many options, some took this opportunity to explore more of Austria by travelling up to Salzburg the home of ‘The sound of music’ some utilised a day trip planned by the university of Graz to visit the Zotter chocolate factory to taste test an abundance of chocolate and spend the evening relaxing at the Loipersdorf spa and others spent their day off exploring the multiple art galleries throughout Graz. On Sunday we all slept in and spent the day finishing our presentation and did some laundry.
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