Studying away is an enticing opportunity – one almost half of Concordia students take advantage of.
Some go to the tropics, landing in the vegetation and beauty of Ecuador. Some seek a less humid climate, finding themselves in India with wonderful, savory new kinds of food. Some even stay in the United States, traveling to Washington, D.C., to fully experience the hubbub of America’s diverse capital.
Erin Ann Schueler went to New Zealand.
As a high school junior from Alexandria, Minn., she already knew what she wanted to study. Education called her name, and she went looking for a college that would fulfill both her aspiration to be a teacher and to study abroad.
“I knew that I wanted to study abroad in college,” Schueler says, “and with education that could be tricky.”
During her college search, Schueler found Concordia. She appreciated the “good sense of community” at the college, which was one of the most important factors in choosing a college. When she found out that Concordia was one of the few schools that offered a program for student teaching abroad, Schueler decided that she had found her future college.
Along with offering study away opportunities, Concordia's education department is a strong program that instills thoughtfulness, care, and responsibility within its students. Schueler especially values that she has been taught “to be more reflective of teaching, evaluating each lesson and figuring out how to improve [her] teaching for [her] students.”
One of the most unique and encouraging aspects of the program is how early students are able to get into the classroom. They start working inside schools as early as sophomore year and continue to be in the classroom throughout the rest of their time at Concordia. Schueler started in a fifth grade class, teaching art education at Oak Grove Lutheran School even though her focus is in mathematics. Concordia wants students to experience diverse classroom settings with different subjects, allowing their future teachers to learn about teaching a wide variety of subjects. That’s part of the beauty in a liberal arts education.
Fully embracing both her major and her desire to study abroad, Schueler went to New Zealand for a student teaching opportunity the fall semester of her senior year. She stayed with a host family, helping to acquaint herself with the country and learn more about the New Zealand lifestyle. Her host mother also worked at the school where Schueler was student teaching, allowing her to have a resource within the school.
She taught students in year four, which would be considered the third grade in the U.S. The teaching style in New Zealand was very different from home. New Zealand schooling focuses on differentiation, meaning they tailor instruction to meet the needs of individual students. Schueler rarely taught a whole class a lesson, but instead worked with the children in small groups for subjects like math, reading and spelling. The teaching style was flexible and sought to meet each student at their own level.
Along with teaching, Schueler traveled on the weekend between both islands, went fishing with her host family, and spent some quality time hanging out at the ocean. Her family was able to fly to New Zealand for Christmas and stay with her host family. They went paddleboarding on Christmas morning, taking in the turquoise and cobalt ocean water while friends and family back home were gathered indoors to avoid the cold.
Schueler’s advice from her three years at Concordia is to get involved.
“There are so many opportunities to find an organization you are passionate about,” she says. “Different doors will open for you and you will meet a great variety of people by joining different activities on campus.”
She encourages students to embrace every chance they are exposed to at Concordia. Whether it’s student teaching in New Zealand or simply joining a club, Concordia has an incredible amount of opportunities that students can, and should take advantage of.
Bailey Hovland '18 is pursuing an English writing major at Concordia.