My overall experience was fantastic. I loved very minute of it. I gained a variety of skills to help me become a better educator. I created a lot of great connections and relationships with people in my group and in Norway. It really felt like a home away from home.
The most valuable learning experience I encountered was navigating the curriculum set up in Norway. They have a lot more freedom than we do in the United States (or at least what I have experienced). At first, it was almost so freedom that I didn't know where to start with my lesson planning. However, as time went on, I really got a sense of what aspects I wanted the students to grow in. With the freedom, I got to really experiment with different teaching strategies, so I learned what worked best for me and my students.
The memorable experience I have from Norway is creating connections with the other Iowa State students and the Norwegian locals. Everybody was so kind and helpful there. They would invite us on their sailboats, give us rides, show us the history of the island, lend us skiing supplies, and much more. They would take us on hikes and it was absolutely beautiful.
What did you not expect?
Something that I didn't expect was the amount of freedom we go in our student teaching. I was expecting a day by day curriculum like we have in the United States. From this, I learned how to be flexible and really trust my gut with what I think would be best for the students.
What advice would you give?
Do it! Do it! Do it! You will not regret it. I never would have thought I would go abroad. I am very much so a homebody, but I didn't miss home as much as I thought. You are just experiencing so many wonderful things that you'll miss it even when it's over.
How has this experience impacted your life?
After my experience in Norway, I learned about myself, how to deal with language barriers, gained a greater understanding of the world, and so much more. Personally, going to Norway gave me a great opportunity to really see how I could navigate myself in another country independently. Of course, I had others I went with, but it was the first time I had been away from home for that long. I was a little nervous about that, but I learned ways to deal with home sickness, so I could enjoy my time out there the best I could. Career wise, I really enjoyed teaching students English. At first, it was a little tricky with the language barrier, but I learned a lot from it and how to communicate with students whose first language is not English.
How did you learn about this experience?
I first learned about this international opportunity from one of our meetings that showed us all of our student teaching options. I never would have thought I would student teach internationally, but it really sparked my interest in the meeting. I am so glad I went out of my comfort zone and gave it a try!International Connections