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Why You Should Get Involved When You Study Abroad

May 17, 2016

ISEP student Diana Laura de Anda Padilla is a student blogger and part of our new ISEP Voices program. She is a design major from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO), and is currently studying abroad at Linnaeus University in Sweden.

I can’t say it was in my plans, but I ended being a Spanish teacher for two young boys while I studied abroad in Växjö, Sweden. Teaching something to someone from your host country, whether it’s a language or any other skill, can give your time abroad greater significance.

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Teaching locals can also be a win-win exchange. I taught Spanish and besides the extra money that I made, I also became very close with a local Swedish family. This unexpected opportunity led me to accomplish one of my main goals of studying abroad: learn the Swedish culture. While teaching basic Spanish words to the kids and playing games with them, I ended spending many hours with a real Swedish family. I learned the role of each member of the family, how the paternity permissions work in Sweden, the cultural food habits and even improved my Swedish.

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We started the lessons in a very academic environment, but slowly progressed the teaching into a more casual environment. I would come over for a Sunday dinner, take the children on a nature walk or shop together in the outskirts of the city. I was also invited to a large family event, during which I got to know Swedish heritage, costumes and traditions. I got to meet so many wonderful new people who kept talking to me about the different culture perspectives. I also got the opportunity to know a village where I had never been before. It was definitely an unforgettable day and I never would have had that day if I had only been a student.

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You may think that you are not interested in being a teacher, but my point is that if opportunity knocks at your door as it happened to me, just say, “Why not?”


Like reading posts from our ISEP bloggers? Learn more about our ISEP Voices Spring 2016 group here.

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