How Studying Abroad Changed Me

Celine M. – Education Immersion in Alcalá, Summer 2019

I have changed as a person as a result of this program because it ​made me realize how much happiness can be found by seeing a new place and meeting new people. There is so much joy in creating connections with people who are excited for you to discover their homeland. I am grateful for the way my experience has shaped me into a better person.

Post abroad, I feel confident in being on my own and ready to take on new adventures. I am also able to be in the shoes of my future students. I know how they feel when they are asked to work and speak in a foreign language. It can be so intimidating. I have the empathy and experience to give them a welcoming, effective classroom that embraces all cultures.

Power is given to the teachers, ultimately. The principal is there to manage events and the teachers, but the teachers have so much freedom to teach as they please and they see fit to their students. The teachers have access to anything they need within the school’s supply room. The children get what they put into their school. They can choose to not listen and just socialize, or they can be the one saying all the answers and guiding the class. The teachers do not really care about which role the students choose to take on. Children of lower-income families will go to public schools and the richer children will go to fancy private schools.

I will make sure to give cues in both languages so that students can recognize keywords. I will stay informed on education policy and advocate for future changes that support bilingualism, rather than reverse the advances our schools have made. I have seen how advanced Spain is in bilingualism, and I want the same for my classroom.

I will intentionally work toward making my classroom a safe, equitable space for all students. It’s crucial for students to feel safe and capable of authentic self-expression at school, especially in a political climate where ELL students are constantly being told they don’t belong. I will be curious about the cultures that come into my classroom and embrace them with my full heart. It makes the students feel special when people care and are curious about their history. Showing your students they care is the best way to connect with them on an educational level.

That feeling of being an American with all Spaniards has never left me, and no student should feel this way at school. I knew I was going to feel this way, and I was so happy and grateful for the experience. As educators, we should be aware of what our students experience outside of school, so we can ensure our classrooms are spaces where they can learn, share, and become the best versions of themselves. Being in the schools made me realize that children are very intelligent, and they are the future of our world. We must educate them about the truths of our sometimes evil world so that they can work to reverse the damage that past generations have made. Seeing these intelligent children has made me realize that the world is such a beautiful place, and I am so excited to teach our future.

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