Posts Tagged 'study abroad'

Off to New Adventures in Peru!


For the first time, students and faculty from the College of Education will travel to Peru and gain experiences with working in school settings outside the United States. While in Peru, students will have the opportunity to work in two schools located in Lima, Peru and travel to the Sacred Valley. Students also will be completing two classes, Philosophy of Education (EDUC 4540) and Critical Inquiry into Contemporary Issues (EDUC 4240), before and after traveling to Peru.

When asked what they are most excited about, the students exclaimed their excitement for being in a new country and experiencing a new culture. “I am excited to observe in a classroom at Colegio Roosevelt and to learn about similarities and differences between their curriculum and classroom management compared to the schools that I have attended or have been placed at for a field placement,” expressed Amy Krzoska, currently a junior. Similarly, Sara Douvalakis, a junior currently, explained her excitement by stating, “I cannot wait to go hiking and sightseeing, but I am most looking forward to new foods.”

In traveling to a new country and experiencing a new culture, challenges do emerge. When asked what they thought would be the biggest challenge, the students replied as stepping out of their comfort zones as the biggest. However, these challenges will not stop the students from having a great time. “I hope to be able go overcome them and enjoy my time abroad,” explained Liz Rivas, a sophomore currently.

With all the excitement of traveling to a new country, it is important to see how this experience will impact oneself. Therefore, students were asked how their time in Peru will impact their future professions. Students, like Liz Rivas and Amy Krzoska, are excited to bring the knowledge gained in Peru to their future classrooms. “[The study abroad experience] will bring new ideas to me and give me the opportunity to incorporate these ideas with my own students,” said Liz Rivas. “ I will be exposed to the Peruvian school system and will learn what they do that could be beneficial to bring back to the United States in my future teaching,” stated Amy Krzoska. Other students are excited to learn from professors and other teachers. “I know I will gain so much knowledge from the professors who are going with us and all of the new friends we make in Peru,” explained Sara Douvalakis.

Study abroad is an amazing and influential experience for education students. To gain further insight, we asked Dr. Melissa Gibson, Assistant Professor and one of the faculty members traveling with students to Peru, on the importance of studying abroad for education students. The following is her response:

“ I think that the most significant is that it helps us expand our pedagogical imaginations. So often as teachers who work within bureaucratic systems and within policy schema and with limited time available, we tend to narrowly focus on “what is” rather than “what can be.” Getting out of the world with which we’re familiar can help us to imagine other possibilities for schooling — traveling, working, and studying abroad is a really powerful way to “make the familiar strange,” which is at the heart of social scientific thinking and particularly relevant for the courses we’re teaching. By visiting a variety of schools, we’ll see varied approaches to what education is and can be; by familiarizing ourselves with a whole new sociopolitical context, I also hope that our own context — its strangeness and its strengths — can come into sharper focus. For me personally, my own experiences abroad have been transformational — whether that be living and teaching in Mexico for several years, traveling throughout India as a Fulbright-Hays scholar, or engaging in a teacher exchange sponsored by the Japanese government. I hope that we can bring a bit of that perspective broadening to our COED students, with the ultimate aim of improving education for our K12 students here in Milwaukee.”

Students will be blogging during their time in Peru; you can hear more about their adventures in their own words

That Which We Can’t Control

Maureen Cumming picBy Maureen Cummings – There are trying times that we invite into our lives as a repercussion of loving someone else. When I answered his call to find a held breath on the other end followed by a crack in his voice while he told me of his mother’s passing, when she laid curled up at the bottom of my bed and could only describe herself as numb, or the many months we entertained the same conversation of self-worth and when the beauty evident to all those around her never once seemed to reflect back in the mirror.

I’ve had moments. We may all recall many moments, like these, those of helplessness that we are somehow tasked to turn into moments of strength.

To teach is to invite these moments in.

While education thrives off of success stories, accomplishments, and moments of growth, these are moments built, carved by the trying times our human condition leaves us vulnerable to.

Teaching is not simply teaching, and I don’t need an education degree to tell you that.

Teaching is exciting while also challenging. Teaching is a passion, while also a moral imperative. Teaching is all these things, but teaching is also an invitation to a long list of moments from each student to which teachers must enter into the lives of their class at whatever level each may need.

Teaching may be hosting a room full of students mourning the loss of their fellow classmate days before graduation. Teaching may be the late night call from a girl sobbing in her dorm room bathroom begging to miss the midterm after an unexpected death in the family. I know this because these are my moments that needed a teacher’s invitation.

Teaching is Linda Cliatt-Wayman, principal of a failing school, who claims the key to fixing a broken school lies in a few policy changes, an innovated curriculum, and a reminder to students each morning over the intercom that “If nobody told you they love you today, remember I do and I always will.”

Whether you are in the field of education or not, your professional life won’t be immune, and you will be asked to take in someone else’s moments.

This is not exclusively a teacher’s responsibility, or a friend’s responsibility, or a parent’s. This is a human responsibility.

While considering this I thought, if surrounded by moments we can’t control, what are moments we can?

This was a tough question to consider, but soon after I was delighted by it. There are moments we can control. We can control the moment in which we remind someone that he or she is loved.

With this in mind, I write to remind us all, myself included: Call your mom. Hug your dad. Hold the door. Say thank you. Do what you know is right. Ask yourself if what you are doing is kind and realize that everyone is someone’s somebody. Remind your somebody that he or she is just that.

Hold the conversation you are scared of. Invite in the moments of others and hold their hand for as long as they may need. Stand up for the person that needs it. Find passions that better someone else’s world and do something every day that requires you to go out of your way for someone else.

Love with a sense of urgency.

Forgive yourself when you don’t, and try again.

Forgive yourself again, and try differently.

Wherever you are in your life, whoever you are, whatever life circumstances lead your eyes to the bottom of this article, know that your life will fill itself with uncontrolled moments, and the more you love, the more you invite other’s uncontrolled moments in. But with this seemingly paralyzing responsibility, don’t forget to acknowledge and celebrate that moment you can control in another’s life – the moment you remind them that they are loved.

There’s a Rock in My Shoe

Rock in your shoe pictureBy Maureen Cummings – Don’t walk with a rock in your shoe.

A message to remember for college freshman, middle schoolers, first year teachers, my best friends, my brothers, my future students, my classmates, my professors, and for myself.

Allow me to set up a backdrop for this advice.

I recently have taken residence in the quiet, hilly and foreign neighborhood of Baulduina in Rome. I’m enrolled in Italian I because prior to coming here my only vocabulary word was Ciao. To think living in a new city that speaks an unfamiliar language — planning trips, budgeting money that somehow seems to be exponentially more limited each day (Sidebar: Sometimes it’s ok to dip into the school supply funds to support your gelato needs.), memorizing new public transportation routes, existing without constant Internet connection, and leaving the comforts of home life — without learning the language is to completely ignore the social context of the experience.

Making friends has always felt natural to me. This may be one of the few positive consequences of a loud personality. Not having friends has never felt natural to me. I’ve done this once before when I started college in a new city knowing no one. There are the positives and there are the negatives to this sort of aloneness. To see one’s self outside the context of a friendship or family and to just exist as an individual made up of whoever those people helped you become is incredibly eye opening. It has shown me more than once what type of people I choose to surround myself with and what kind of person I choose to display myself as.

Within my first few days in Rome I had found a group of girls that I decided to test the waters with. Experiencing people for the first time for me sometimes feels like a, “Do they get it?” test. I note what people laugh at and if our humors can align. I see the pace they walk at to confirm we can move with a purpose and minimize downtime when we have but 110 days to experience the eternal city. The list goes on and on, but as these new people are checking boxes on my own list, I know there are boxes my personality traits must also be checking for them.

On the second day of this group’s togetherness, this being the first time we dare to acknowledge that we are going to hang out again together and that all parties have agreed that enough boxes were checked to make this to day two, we walked to the local grocery store. As we’re walking, I begin hitting topics about what home life looks for different people, who also has two older brothers, majors, potential career ideas, and everything else that is usually answered followed by a smile and nod to fill the empty space before someone else can think of a new question.

Within moments of the uphill hike, a small and seemingly insignificant pebble gets kicked into my shoe, obviously noticed by no one but myself. Let me remind you these people walk with a gusto that I can typically appreciate when my shoe is rock- free. As we are booking it to the store and holding polite conversation the rock begins to take over my every thought as it is piercingly sharper every time I step down on my right foot. I keep walking so as not to interrupt the flow of conversation. Information is being exchanged and occasionally a good joke is being thrown down, but in the most dramatic way my mind can’t escape the sharp little rock.

As we progress on the journey everyone is adding their two cents and getting their boxes checked while I draw up scenarios of what would happen if I stopped to remove the stone, or if I should tell everyone to stop for a second, or if I should power through. I removed myself from conversation and became quiet. I’m not quiet.

I opted to stop. I let the group move forward and I removed the rock because now that I am out of the social comfort and context of home I am realizing who I want to be on my own rather than relative to anyone else. I see that I don’t want to be the type person who walks quietly with a rock in my shoe.

The rock is of complete insignificance and invisibility to everyone else, but for me it is there. The longer I walked with it, the more present it became.

Don’t walk with a rock in your shoe.

We all have rocks in our shoes at some point. When I was a freshman and realized I picked a school that couldn’t give me what I thought I wanted from my collegiate experience– that was a rock in my shoe. I had to weigh my options: Do I walk with my rock? Do I wait it out to see if the rock becomes less painful or my foot becomes numb to it? Do I ask someone to stop with me so I can handle my rock? Do I let the group continue moving forward and I’ll catch up when I catch up?

Challenges and rocks that seem insignificant can change the way we experience a conversation, our schooling, and our relationships. It is not impossible to ignore or power through them, but we should weigh the option of addressing them. This may be even more of the challenge.

To college freshman, middle schoolers, first year teachers, my best friends, my brothers, my future students, my classmates, my professors, and to myself: Know that there is more than one way to move forward. Know that it is okay to step back. Know that the world will not move on without you if you take the time to address the challenges that others may not see in your life.

As a new school year begins, please, don’t walk with a rock in your shoe.

Lessons Learned from Life Abroad

Erica's blog pic 1By Erica Henderson – This summer I decided to travel.

I’m 25, looking forward to my last year of graduate school, and uncertain what’s going to happen after graduation. I could have gotten a job or internship for the summer, but I was starting to feel like this could be my last opportunity to do what I’d always wanted but never felt able to—travel.

I figured that this seemingly irresponsible summer was a rite of passage that everyone should experience once before life gets too real. And I don’t necessarily just mean travelling. That accusatory question I would hear from some people (“What do you mean you’ve never been to Europe?!) irked me to no end. I realize how lucky I am to have been able to go a whole summer with no income and still cover the expenses of travelling. It’s certainly not something that should be expected of everybody.

What I mean by an irresponsible summer is simply a summer consisting of nothing Erica's blog pic2that one would likely put on a resume. This could be travelling to another country or going on a road trip to Montana and camping out for a few weeks. It could be cramming a group of ten friends into a small rental cottage in some tourist-y beach town and bartending for a summer. It could be working on a farm when you’ve never watered a plant in your life. None of these things are likely to advance my nascent career in the world of educational policy, but judging by my experience this summer, it would still prove to be an irreplaceable learning opportunity.

The month I spent abroad provided an astounding array of random and unexpected experiences. I saw Bam Margera dressed like a pirate, drunkenly trying to start a fight with an Icelandic gang. I hiked a glacier in Skogafoss. I met a girl in Reykjavik who grew up in my neighborhood in Boston. I saw Bam Margera (again) with a black eye. I stayed in a small town in Austria with an old lady whom I’d never met and who didn’t speak a word of English. Later, she and I split a bottle of wine at her grandson’s soccer game.

I drove an ATV along the cliffs of Santorini. I watched the sunset in Oia and then slowly made my way to the other side of the island in time to watch the sunrise at Kamara Beach. I heard the protesters in Athens shouting “OXI!” to the proposal of austerity, and I learned the effects of a suffering economy so plainly in the conversations I had with the restaurant owners who showed me what real hospitality looks like.Erica's blog pic3

I realized I was relying on everyone else knowing English, and I started to feel very self-conscious about that. I learned that Europeans associated America most commonly with guns and Coca Cola. They also loved asking me about the typical college tuition and, after hearing of my sister’s colossal debt from law school, coyly bragging about their free higher education. I found myself, along with a comrade from Dallas, explaining to a group of curious Australians what exactly is the confederate flag, and struggling to explain why it’s still being flown. I was often embarrassed when someone from Glasgow or anywhere else knew more about American politics than I did, whereas I know absolutely nothing about Scotland whatsoever.

In the end I was wrong to think this was my last chance to travel. If it is a passion, one just needs to learn how to prioritize it. I have a friend who is a high school teacher, and she aims to visit at least three Erica's blog pic4countries every year. I always considered that irresponsible, with her looming college debt. Looking back, I realize she is doing it right. That is her passion, and although she often has to forego big nights out, dining at expensive restaurants, or finally buying a car, she never feels as though she is missing out, because she has prioritized what is important to her. I plan to try to do the same from now on.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from my journey abroad was this: I was wrong to think that I wouldn’t learn anything of value to my professional future. I have learned to be open-minded and curious of others’ cultures (though I couldn’t bring myself to try the Icelandic staple: putrefieErica's blog pic5d shark). I want to be more aware of what is going on not just in my own country but also around the world. I gained a new perspective simply hearing others’ reasons for travelling, of which no two are alike. I found that I couldn’t even begin to understand the nuances of international economics, and now have a healthy skepticism when hearing criticisms of countries that are struggling. I am even learning German.

To be sure, many of these experiences are things that I could have found right here in Wisconsin, but the curiosity and perspectives I gained while abroad will inform the way I navigate the rest of my education and beyond.

Big Lessons in Small Places

taylorgallblogpicBy Taylor Gall – Last summer at this time, I was anxiously preparing for a month abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I had never been to Europe before, and I had never even traveled on my own before (let alone to a foreign, Danish-speaking country). I thought that my month in Copenhagen, as well as a lovely five-day stay in Iceland, would be the best month of my life. It taught me how to travel on my own, how to survive without constant phone access, how to put everything aside and just ENJOY the moment I was in, and how to order coffee in Danish (yell “KAFFE!”).

For 28 days, I danced around the streets of CPH and enjoyed that crazy little city to the fullest. I took nothing for granted, I said “YES!” to everything, and I was unconditionally and absolutely happy. I will never forget my time in Denmark, nor the lessons I learned there.

What lessons you ask? Before I tell you, I want to let you know that these lessons were great to find at the time, but better to put into practice this past year. The purpose and goal of studying abroad, in my opinion, is to widen your view and be able to apply your “abroad mentality” to your everyday life back in the states.

Ok. Here are my lessons:

1) There is adventure to be found in every twist in turn (both literal and hypothetical), so don’t get too worried when you get a little lost.

2) There are truly good people waiting to be found everywhere you go. We can get lost inside of college culture and forget that in post-graduate life we will still be able to meet great new people no matter where we end up.

3) Putting away your phone and enjoying the moment is very, very important. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life with your nose in an electronic world that doesn’t really exist. Savor every moment you’re given, with the people that are there with you in real time. Kardashian Instagrams can wait.

4) Embrace, enjoy, remember. Rinse. Repeat.

5) Adventure can be found in your own back yard. There are new parts of a city you may think you know so well that are waiting to be discovered!


All of these lessons could have been learned here in Milwaukee or at home in Grafton. They could be learned on any college campus, in any major or minor city, in any suburb and on any rural farm in northern Wisconsin. Going abroad (even for a very short time) was an absolute blast, but the real benefits came after.

This past year, I have taken the world by storm. I’ve been a stronger woman and a better friend, I’ve made sure to pay attention to the people that I’m physically around, and above all, I’ve learned to appreciate when I am particularly happy.

I don’t have to be particularly happy about anything major– it could be enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning at my dining room table, reading a book with my cousin Elsie, or listening to my mom talk about her day on the phone. I think that Kurt Vonnegut best described it in his graduation speech “Don’t Forget Where You Came From”:

My Uncle Alex Vonnegut, an insurance salesman who lived at 5033 North Pennsylvania, taught me something very important. He said that when things are going really well we should be sure to notice it. He was talking about very simple occasions, not great victories. Maybe drinking lemonade under a shade tree, or smelling the aroma of a bakery, or fishing, or listening to music coming from a concert hall while standing in the dark outside, or, dare I say, after a kiss. He told me that it was important at such times to say out loud, “If this isn’t nice what is?”

My nice moments do not need to be abroad. Even though I will be spending my summer in Cream City, I will find nice moments to speak about out loud. Since coming back, I’ve traveled to Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. I’ve also made it to 5 Wisconsin State Parks and plan to check at least 5 more off my list this summer. I plan on traveling more places and doing more things, even if they will be in my own backyard.

There are adventures to be found everywhere, and lessons don’t need to come from extravagant events.

Here I am, in a coffee (kaffe) shop, looking at the babies sitting next to me and listening to quiet conversation. If this isn’t nice, what is?

What to Shop for When Preparing to Study Abroad

By Clare Jorgensen — Did you know that there are over 200 Marquette students who will be spending the next semester in various countries abroad?   And that includes me! I will be going to Madrid!

christmas gifts study abroad

During this time of buying and returning gifts from the holiday season, I thought it would be appropriate to give some advice to these many students as to what to look for or what to ask for from family members that will be ideal when spending a semester abroad. Clothes are obviously something that people may think to ask for in order to accommodate the different temperatures that students may encounter, but there are some items that could be very useful.

During the travel process, it will be important that the students’ belongings are kept safe during the long flights and other moves they will be making. Because of this, it could be smart to buy some small locks for the suitcases, to make sure nothing unzips or gets stolen. This will also be smart for the interior of the suitcases, so important documents or money can be held safely.

Along with safety, students should be able to travel with comfort with the varying flights. Students can invest in a good neck pillow, instead of the scratchy and thin pillow that is given by the flight attendants. If excitement is keeping anyone up during a flight, then a good book or good movie will allow the flight to seem much shorter.

If anyone is like me, I plan on making various trips to countries outside of the one I am staying in during my time abroad. While I feel I am moderately proficient in Spanish, it will still be smart to buy some pocket phrase books in Spanish for some phrases I may not know, and it could still apply to other languages like French, German, Chinese, etc.

Since I plan on doing some other travelling, I know will also need various converters for different countries so I can always have the capability to charge my phone or plug in any necessary items.

When travelling, many students will save money by staying in hostels. Hostels are not as fancy or accommodating as hotels, so here are some things that could be useful: filtered water bottles, cheap sheets and towels, a small pillow, and some locks to put on the duffle bags or backpacks that students will be travelling with instead of the big suitcases.

There are countless other ideas, but these could be things that people may overlook when thinking about study abroad things to buy. If anyone has any ideas, feel free to post comments.

It has been a wonderful semester having the opportunity to write for the Marquette Educator. I hope my blogs proved to be interesting and/or thought-provoking for everyone. I hope the readers have a great break, and I hope that Marquette students will come back to campus eager and ready to start the spring semester off right!

South Africa: Takeaways for a Future Teacher

wil2By Anna Concannon — While studying in South Africa, I had the opportunity to help out with 3-5 year olds in a preschool classroom, which is an age group I did not have much experience with beforehand.

Being at the school gave me some insight about how the education system works there. I also learned a lot about how to be a good teacher.

Unfortunately, I saw a lack of instruction in this particular class, so I thought a lot about how I would improve the teaching.

On my first day at the school, the teacher/principle gave me ideas about various activities to do with the kids and played with them all day. On the subsequent days I was there, she stayed in her office almost the entire time, leaving me alone to keep the kids occupied, and she did not speak with me very much.

This was disappointing to me; it seemed like she was showing off her enthusiasm about teaching the first day to give off a good impression. Another explanation could be that she took advantage of having a helper in the classroom by using that extra time to do paperwork. Either way, there was not enough supervision of the kids. And they were a handful.

Overwhelmed at first, I learned to control the class and keep them occupied as my time there went on. Something valuable that I learned is the importance of transitioning. It can be difficult to motivate kids to clean and line up, so what made that easier was singing songs while we did it. At this young age, I discovered, kids love to sing.

Additionally, I recognized the significance of following a schedule. I am a very organized person, and many teachers I know are. To my dismay, the teacher I was helping was not at all; she just let the kids play all day. On my very last day at the school, I noticed there was a schedule of lessons on the wall that I never realized existed because there was no order of daily activities. The schedule included implementing math and writing skills into every “period” of the day… and I never saw that happen once. I did try doing this in some of the activities I led, which was successful.

Lastly, I learned to relax and let the children have fun. I sometimes get stressed out when kids misbehave, but after a while I learned to step back a little and the kids would fix their problems with each other without me asking them to do so. This helped keep me content during the long schooldays, and I will remember this when I have my own class someday.

Even though there was a language barrier between the kids and me, the school had really few resources, and the teacher did not supervise the kids enough, I fell in love with the kids at the preschool in South Africa. I have a new-found appreciation for teaching the younger ones, and I feel that it could be a good fit for me.

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