On this trip I will have switched back and forth time zones six times by the time I get back home. My sleep schedule is going to be pretty whack for the next couple days. I tried to stay up pretty late last night in a desperate attempt to get myself back on track. I got up super early, and while on the bus to the airport, I felt a rush of both sadness and happiness. I am soooooooo excited to go home, but I’m also sad that this amazing trip has to come to an end. I have learned so much over the past ten days, and I honestly feel like this experience has made me grow so much as a person. I learned things I could have never learned in four classroom walls.

Like I’ve mentioned at least forty-seven times throughout my blog posts, I am not a fan of heights. Our flight out of London to Amsterdam was about an hour long, and I had a full on panic attack about halfway through it. Needless to say, after this plane ride from Amsterdam back to Atlanta, I will not be getting back on an airplane anytime soon.

As I’m sitting here writing my final blog on this nine and half hour flight back home, there are so many things running through my mind. So many different things in the world have had such an incredible impact on literature, especially children’s lit. History, culture, politics, and social factors all affect it in some way. Throughout all of our tours I have noticed so much of the French and British history shining through in the literature. A common theme in both of the two is the role of women. While visiting the Château de Breteuil, we saw even more examples of the inferiority. Men had their own room for smoking and discussing important topics that weren’t suited for women to hear in the main hallway of the house, while women had a room in the back of the house where they were supposed to do simple and pleasing things. In Shakespearian times, women weren’t even allowed to play the female roles in the plays. This common theme is so apparent in many of the books written during the time period.

I’ve also been thinking of our visit to the St. Martins pre-prepatory school last Wednesday. They have such an amazing approach to how they go about doing things. Simple things such as having students explain how they figured out a certain problem is key to understanding and mastering a topic. There was a little girl I talked to in the form 5 classroom named Emily who was able to go back and show me step by step how to work a math problem that she had learned about two weeks ago! Having students understand the process of figuring out a problem and not just get the correct answer is so important. I also noticed that the students were all very well behaved, even when the teacher wasn’t looking. I really liked how whenever a student did get in trouble, the teacher didn’t try and embarrass him/her by yelling at them in front of their friends. They took the student out in the hall, got down to their level, and tried to figure out the problem and the best solution to fix it. Being patience with children is often a hard thing to do but also so important. In two years when I have my own class, I hope that I can bring these strategies into my teaching. I want my students to not just get the correct answer to pass a test at the time. I want them to understand how they got the question right, and I want them to be well behaved and respected individuals. It was very apparent the differences between the education settings in Britain and America. Not only their teaching methods but the advancement of the students. I was blown away with these students, and I still can’t believe I saw a six year old doing division problems. Being that this school was basically in a house, it’s obvious as to how small it was, even if you weren’t there to see it. I feel that the small size of the school really made the teachers and students have a special relationship. The teachers knew all of the students, and the students knew all of the teachers. They weren’t just a number. They actually care for these kids. Schools in America are not ever really this small size. I thought my high school was small compared to others but my graduating class was the size of the whole school! There were so many differences between the two education systems, and I honestly feel as though we may be slacking over here in America!

Thinking back I was not expecting France and Britain to be so different from America. I mean I definitely knew there would be differences, but so many of the small things really shocked me. The drivers in both of these countries are RECKLESS. Every single time I got into a car or bus I was terrified. It’s honestly a miracle we did not have a car accident, and driving on the other side of the road in Britain really freaked me out. I also thought the French food would be to die for, but it was quite the opposite. I thought I was going to die because of the small portions that we got for every single meal. I may be a small girl, but I can put a whole pizza away in about 15 minutes. The first thing I’m going to do when I get back is go straight to Chick-Fil-A.

Overall, I enjoyed this experience so much and would do it again in a heartbeat. I made friends with my roommate, and I made some unforgettable memories. I’ll probably hear “MIND THE GAP” in my sleep for the rest of my life. My overall favorite experience was hands down going to the school in London. I feel like that honestly changed my view on public education and made me think about how I want to run my future classroom. I feel like through this experience I have became gained so much cultural knowledge and have achieved my goal of gaining a better world view. I’m so grateful for this opportunity, and I can’t wait to bring these experiences into my classroom.