As a future teacher I have always understood the importance of travel, in learning as much about the world and its inhabitants as possible, so that I am better equipped to educate my future students. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to get the chance to study abroad last fall in a small town right outside of London, England. As I prepared for my departure, anticipation mounted. I couldn’t wait to make new friends, travel to new cities and discover new perspectives.
My semester in England was amazing. I enjoyed a new culture, met fascinating new people, and learned more than I ever imagined I could have. But what made my trip extraordinary was something else entirely. Interestingly, I didn’t realize the lasting impacts of my experience abroad until after I returned home. While reflecting upon my trip, I realized that to really learn in life, you must be more than a participant, you must be a creator.
So what truly made my experience one of a kind? What helped me really grow as an individual? It was taking the initiative. Instead of lamenting about my classroom-less semester, I got active, getting together a group of several other future teachers and talking with some of our professors about possibly teaching at a local school. After countless emails, phone calls we got the approval to teach in a local primary school. We were ecstatic!
We put together creative lesson plans about Thanksgiving and chatted excitedly about what this foreign classroom might be like. It was amazing! Leading that British classroom is an experience that I can’t even put into words. I learned more working with those students than I ever could have from reading a book or sitting behind a desk. At the time, I merely chalked it up as another part of the study abroad experience. But, today, I carry with me more from that British classroom than any other experience I participated in while abroad. We get out of life what we put in to it, and studying abroad afforded me opportunity to enjoy a once in a lifetime experience.