Irish Crudden and German Stedwell have been part of a group consisting of 9 exchange students from 7 different countries, who have chosen different courses at QMUC.
The course, “Outdoor Play and Learning with focus on Risky Play”, has kept Crudden and Stedwell in Norway for almost 5 months.
- It has been very interesting staying in a different culture, says Stedwell. – Our fellow students came from Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Belgium. We are all very different from each other, so it has been a very intercultural experience. As well as learning about the Norwegian system we have also learned from each other. And we have also learned how it to be a foreigner.
As well as following the course that introduced the students to the Nordic view on play and learning, the close relationship to nature, and children’s rights to participation, they have had several weeks practice in Norwegian Early Child Care institutions. They have also been on trips, both locally and further away, and plan to travel a bit more now that their course has ended.
- I can`t even put into words what I have got out of this experience, exclaims Crudden. - Surprisingly I haven`t been homesick at all, we have been constantly busy, there have been so many things going on.
- Now I understand what people say they are enriched by going abroad, says Stedwell. - I thought I was never going to do this, and I`m actually a bit proud of myself. Normally I am quite content staying at home with my friends and family, but I have had a great time here and not longed for home. I have tried new things and managed in a different country, it makes me a more open minded person.
Even though the students have seen a lot of Norway they have also worked hard. – The assignments must have been the most challenging part of the experience, thinks Crudden. They are written in a different style to what I am used to. But we got some guidance from the lecturers and we could e-mail them if we needed help.
She plans to bring what she has learned about risky play back to Ireland. – It is interesting to see how my view on risky play has changed after this course. I`m hoping to get a job in a kindergarten that spends lots of time outdoors, I have really learned the value that nature holds for children.
- I think the biggest challenge was not learning Norwegian properly, says Stedwell. – We managed to communicate a bit with the children we met in our practice, using a bit of Norwegian and body language. The adults spoke English, but I wish I had learned a bit of Norwegian before I came here. We had to think twice when we were speaking to the children, so communication took a bit longer.
- Trondheim is a beautiful city, of a good size, the students agree. - Everyone here seems very relaxed and friendly. Even teachers that we didn`t have would stop us in the corridors and ask us how we were doing.