Monday, 24 May 2010

The end of a long journey...

Today is officially the last day of my Comenius assistantship at Voksen Skole, in Oslo. It is time to look back, reflect on this whole experience, write the report, and send it to the National Agency.
It has been a wonderful year. I have learned and lived so many may different things, most of them good, although not all of them. Everything is very intense in these sort of situations, when you move to a totally new and unknown country, culture, weather, language. Being away from home and those whom you trust can sometimes be very hard and having to struggle with the financial and emotional problems only aggravated by the linguistic, cultural barriers can eventually make you want to give up.
It is very important to keep focused, stay open-minded, be helpful and friendly. Most of all, it is of the utmost importance to be independent and stay calm. Adapt and adjust and you'll be fine. But is it that easy?

The kindness of the people who welcome you to their country and their lives makes up for the not so cool things happening, though!

And like Nichiren Daishonen said "Never let life’s hardships disturb you … no one can avoid problems, not even saints or sages."

I will add more information regarding my experience as an assistant teacher later on.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

School is not always easy for everybody ...

2nd grader, sitting alone during the lunch break.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Karneval på Voksen skole!

Yesterday there was a Carnival party for the children at Aktivitesskolen :)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Living costs in Oslo

The University of Oslo estimates that the living costs for a student in Norway for five months and on a "modest budget" are approximately NOK 43 800 -> 5 446 EUR (at the moment), which represent around 1 100 Eur a month. This includes housing, food, Books & supplies, transportation (although this amount is for students who are less than 30 and therefore pay less) and other expenses.

The Comenius scholarship for Norway this year is 813 Eur/month, as anyone can easily find on the Portuguese National Agency's (PNA) website. According to the PNA the European Commission decides the amounts. I wonder where they get their information from to estimate the scholarship amounts, because according to a survey from 2004/2005 where assistants mention the scholarship is not enough, this has been a problem for Comenius assistants for a long time. To make matters worse (in Norway's case specially), no matter where you go, you are paid in Euro and therefore lose money in exchange and so on.

The question is, should they accept less assistants in order to make the experience better for everybody, or does (as in anything else is life) quantity matters more than quality? (the more assistants the less amount for each, but the more people they have doing Comenius the more successful the program looks)

Two things that could help though, would be to be able to stay at students residencies (because they are usually cheaper) and have free guaranteed language courses (like those provided for Erasmus students). Most of Comenius assistants have just finished their degree and are coming from University. This means that most people neither have a job nor a nest egg.

Fortunately, most of us either find a second job during the traineeship or ask their parents/family for help.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Norwegian alphabet

Norwegian phonetics in particular is a bit difficult and it may take some time until one is able to pronounce things correctly. And, as I have experienced so many times before, if you don't say it right, people won't understand you. You might as well have a paper with the name of the place you are looking for if you are lost and need to ask for directions :)

Friday, 19 February 2010

19 February

Today was the last day before the Vinterferie (Winter holidays) - which is a one-week break in Norwegian schools (as well as other northern European countries).
The children had a very relaxed day. Instead of classes, they watched the film "Kiki's Delivery Service" and had some popcorn.
In the afternoon, the ones who stayed in the Aktivitesskolen (after school care) have had an ice-sculpture contest, as well as outdoor barbecue and warm apple and berries juice (yes, warm juice!). The weather was really terrible, very cold and windy, but it was lots of fun!
The contest winners had a small gift and all the children who participated got to eat one small chocolate.