My time student teaching in Norway has been the experience of a lifetime. I had the opportunity to gain new perspectives, travel to different countries, and to grow as an educator and individual. I was able to immerse myself in a new culture, new language, and met many amazing people. In my time here, I learned how much I can grow from being pushed outside of my comfort zone. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Norway, and I hope to return one day.
The most valuable learning experiences that I will take away from my time in Norway is that it is so important to have empathy and to keep an open mind. This was my first time travelling outside of the U. S., so I tried to keep an open mind about everything since it was most likely a new experience for me. From the first time taking the fast boat to teaching high schoolers for the first time, I tried to go into it with little expectations or worries about what could go wrong. Instead, I found the positive in each situation and focused on the good that came with it.
I saw each new experience as an opportunity for growth, and that helped with my mindset and mental health while in Norway. I also had to have lots of empathy for the students I worked with, as it was difficult to communicate with some of them. I would try to put myself in their shoes in attempt to understand them better. I truly believe that an experience like this is what you decide to make of it, and I’m glad that I learned this lesson early on in my trip.
What did you not expect?
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the lifestyle they have there. I was a little nervous going into it and before I got there, but after the eight weeks I spent living there, I actually really enjoyed my day-to-day life. I had a lot less stress on a daily basis, I enjoyed the nature around me, and I loved going to the school every day to teach. I was also surprised at how close I was able to get with my students. Despite the language barrier present with some of my students, I was still able to form strong relationships with them through nonverbal communication and some translations. I’m thankful for every part of it as it taught me a lot about myself as an individual and educator.
What advice would you give?
One piece of advice I would give to anyone looking into studying abroad or an experience similar to this would be to go into it with an open mind. Things may not go your way, may be different than you are used to, or may be completely foreign to you. It is better to approach those situations with a growth mindset and to find the positives in them.
How has this experience impacted your life?
This experience has impacted me in so many ways. Before coming to Norway I had the mindset that after student teaching I would get a classroom teaching job and continue with that for basically the rest of my life. After this experience I feel that I have a much more open mind in regards to the possibilities that I have ahead for my future. I have a widened perspective of how large the world actually is and how there are so many opportunities out there in the field of education. I feel that the time I have spent in the classroom while in Norway has helped me grow in my skills as an educator, as I had to navigate some challenging and unfamiliar situations. I also feel that the time outside of the classroom, where I was travelling or trying to navigate my way through the country, helped me grow in a more personal sense. I learned that things don’t always go your way and that’s okay, people can be kinder than you may think, and you grow the most when you get out of your comfort zone. I don’t know exactly what the future has in store but I feel that this experience has helped me grow in so many ways that will help me figure it out.
How did you learn about this experience?
I first learned about this international opportunity at the Student Teaching Open House in January 2022. Throughout my entire college career I knew that I wanted to study abroad, but wasn’t sure how I could do so and still complete all my academic requirements within the School of Education. When the time came for deciding where I wanted to spend my student teaching semester, I wanted to explore all of my options. I considered going out-of-state for eight weeks of the total 16, but then I had heard about all of the different international sites that Iowa State had partnerships with for student teaching opportunities. I spent some time at the open house talking with a few of the coordinators for this student teaching option and learned much more about what the experience would entail.International Connections