Overall, my experience was everything that I had hoped for and more! Traveling to Norway was the first time that I had ever left the United States and I recommend that every one travels abroad at least once in their lifetime. I learned so much about the Norwegian culture, people, and landscape. I explored the beautiful fjords of Norway and hiked to the top of mountains almost every week. There was a lot of "firsts" for me while I was in Norway. I learned how to snow ski, rock climb, and went camping for the first time! If you are looking for an experience that will test your comfort level, push you to be active, and meet the most welcoming people in the world, then Norway is for you!
I had so many memorable experiences it is hard to choose just one! One of the most memorable experiences I had was learning how to snow ski. I had never snow skied and only knew how to water ski. I had the opportunity to go cross-country skiing throughout the mountains of Norway. I fell down a lot but I will never forget it!
What advice would you give?
DO IT!! I had a lot of doubts about going abroad, whether it was financially or my fear of going outside of my comfort level. Iowa State provides a lot of scholarships to make it EXTREMELY affordable and you will never get another chance to live like a local for two months in another country. Don't be afraid to ask questions and reach out to those who have studied abroad before. It will make a world of difference when preparing for your trip. My biggest advice to anyone who wants to study abroad is to take in every moment while you are there and don't say no to new experiences or food. This experience has undoubtably made me a better teacher and a better person. Norway will steal your heart and you will catch the travel bug for sure!
How has this experience impacted your life?
This experience in Norway has impacted me in more ways than one. Personally, Norway has impacted my physical activity level. I have learned the satisfaction of hiking up a mountain or cross-country skiing for 20 miles in a day. Norway has made me want to have a more active lifestyle and I think my health will thank Norway for that! This experience has also impacted me socially. After having so many people welcome me into their homes and being so generous, it changed the way that I look at relationships and the happiness that comes with being surrounded by genuinely nice people. Educationally, I learned what it was like to live in a country where I couldn't read the groceries labels at the grocery store or speak to a cashier. I learned what it might be like for a student in school where English may not be their first language. I have gained a lot of empathy towards English Language Learners and I believe it will make me a better teacher because of it. In the long-run, I would like to share my experiences from teaching in a different school system to help improve American school systems.
How did you learn about this experience?
I learned about international student teaching during my one of my practicum experiences. My cooperating teacher had actually completed the same student teaching program in Norway about 7 years prior. This program has been running for almost twenty years in Norway and I had heard from my cooperating teacher that it was great for my specific content area (FCS). It can be difficult to find study abroad programs that fit specifically with Family and Consumer Sciences, but Norway was a perfect fit with the amazing culinary program at the middle school level!International Connections