Major: Elementary Education
Minor/option/emphasis: Reading Endorsement; Social Studies Endorsement
Type of experience: Student Teaching Abroad
Experience: International Student Teaching
Experience website: http://isuabroad.iastate.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgram&Program_ID=060670717B4F74007205760500011C750E7B7014077C73036E007575767D010B71077B037B70027407&Type=O&sType=O
Destination: Krosno, Poland
My overall study abroad experience consisted of me teaching students from ages 13-19 who all speak English as their second language. I was living on the top floor of the school and was able to interact with teachers and students throughout the day. Teaching at this school was like any American high school where you may not teach every period and you have a specific subject that you focus on. I was focused on teaching English and Social Science courses. It was a challenge to adapt content and pedagogy to high school level students, but I was able to learn a lot about American Social Science topics and grow as an educator. The teachers at the school were very helpful and always had my best interest in mind whether it was school related or not. On the weekends, I was able to travel to other cities and countries including the following: Krakow, Poland; Berlin, Germany; Dublin, Ireland; Budapest, Hungary; and Prague, Czech Republic.
I first learned about this opportunity during my first semester at Iowa State in my transfer orientation course. Right when I saw all the options that Iowa State has to offer their student teachers I knew I wanted to go out of state and out of the country. I came to Iowa State knowing that they have an incredible Elementary Education program so I knew that their international experiences had to be even more exceptional.
An impact to my life...
In Poland, I was living in a town of about 45,000 people and it was not a tourist city. From this, I was able to fully immerse myself into the culture and daily life of Polish society and benefited in multiple ways from that. Student teaching abroad has taught me how to see from a person's, who is living in a country they are not from, point of view which I think is a crucial trait to have as a teacher. I will use that experience to use in my personal life outside of school and with my students inside of the classroom. For example, I now know what it is like to be in a situation where you do not understand the language and know what cues help others to better understand. I can share ideas to help ESL students to my colleagues to better the education not only in my classroom, but throughout the school I teach in.
I will never forget...
The most memorable experience I have from student teaching internationally would be the amount of interaction I had with students and teachers outside of school. Students and teachers were always eager to spend time together outside of school doing things such as going out for coffee or dinner, walking around town, going to Zumba, or anything that they would do in their own daily lives. These interactions allowed me to see inside the daily life of Polish society on a deeper level that I do not think I could have received at a different location. I was able to learn about the town and country's history and also how my students' live outside of school hours.
Advice for others...
Three simple words: JUST DO IT! It is the most amazing experience that I have ever had in my life. Eight weeks can sound like a long time, but it goes by in the blink of an eye. Now that I am back home, I feel like I never left home. It is an experience that is so unreal that I cannot imagine that I was fortunate to do it. In addition, take every opportunity that you have to travel while you are abroad. It is simple and more affordable (in Europe, at least) to go to other countries.