This experience gets a 10/10. From the second we got off the plane in Taiwan, we were spoiled by our coordinators. They brought us many gifts and that set the tone for the rest of the trip. Joyce and Peter, the two main coordinators, were incredibly helpful with absolutely anything we needed. They helped me get a haircut, they helped plan trips around Taiwan, they took us out to eat regularly and also took us to the doctors when we got sick. They were amazing! My cooperating teacher, Nora, was awesome. She helped a lot with everything and was very willing to let me do my own thing. She gave me a lot of flexibility with how I wanted to teach my students while also giving me great feedback. Taiwan is an amazing place. The value of the trip cannot be overstated. From the people to the vacation spots, to the food, to the amount I paid for this experience, no other experience can match what the Taiwan experience offered me.
I had to learn how to teach students that aren't used to having much classroom management going on. Typically, Taiwanese teachers are used to talking over their students when they are talking (not okay in a United States classroom). This was challenging, but made me get creative to find activities that continually kept the students engaged so they weren't off task. This will apply great back in the United States because this is what we should be doing anyway and only add in the extra classroom management of having the class be quiet when necessary. On top of that, I was working with the equivalent of ESL (English as a Second Language) students. It gave me great practice for any ESL students I might have in my future classrooms.
Any time spent with my three peers that went with me. Some groups obviously don't get along very well. Our group got along amazing! We spent a lot of time together and even took trips around Taiwan together. Any time with them was a memorable experience. The most memorable though is probably when we all got food poisoning on a weekend trip two hours away from anyone that could really help us.
What did you not expect?
It surprised me how willing everyone there was willing to put their life on hold to make sure that we had a great time and experience. For me, this is how I want to view teaching and how I want my students to view me. I want to have my students see me as the teacher that will put my life on hold to help them out no matter the problem.
What advice would you give?
Go all in to whatever experience you have overseas. Don't just go over, do you classes or student teaching, then go back and sit in your room on the weekends. Go out every weekend and free second you have and explore the unfamiliar world around you. What's the point in spending all that money to go overseas if you aren't willing to explore. You might be a little burnt out at the end, but it makes going home so much more satisfying, plus you'll have so many more unforgettable memories.
How has this experience impacted your life?
Personally, I was able to visit the entirety of Taiwan! That in itself was very cool. Afterward though, I went to Singapore, Hong Kong, and China. I got to stay with some friends in China which was very meaningful to me as well as visit new places that I'll probably never get back to in my life. Educationally, I had to learn how to teach students that aren't used to having much classroom management going on. Typically, Taiwanese teachers are used to talking over their students when they are talking (not okay in a United States classroom). This was challenging, but made me get creative to find activities that continually kept the students engaged so they weren't off task. This will apply great back in the United States because this is what we should be doing anyway and only add in the extra classroom management of having the class be quiet when necessary. Career wise, this helped me to work on continually reflecting over every lesson I taught which is something I should be doing anyway the entirety of my career.
How did you learn about this experience?
I was asked by a friend if I would stop by the International Student Teaching Fair with her. I said sure and I got very interested in it when I saw that New Zealand and Taiwan were two options. New Zealand definitely spiked my interest, but Taiwan worked out soooo much better for me. I have friends in China and was able to visit them after the student teaching in Taiwan. Both of the locations seemed perfect for me and I ended up applying two days later.International Connections