Photo Above: Doorstep of James Joyce's birthplace in Dublin, Ireland.
Semester Abroad: National University of Ireland, Galway
January- May 2012
Leaving my comfort zone of Marquette University and venturing out to study abroad to complete my English major was the most exciting time of my life. The experience not only changed me as a person, but also as an educator. My semester abroad taught me many things, one important thing being communication. Before traveling abroad, I spent a lot of my time on my iPhone or on social media when not studying, working, attending classes or socializing with friends. Living in Ireland changed my perspective on communicating and the way many young adults spend their time on social media and the devices that aid them. As an English teacher, I value communication and use many of my lessons teaching students how to communicate via writing and speaking. Teenagers spend so much time with their phones whether they are texting, tweeting, liking or instagramming which can be very positive when used correctly. Living abroad opened my eyes to a new way of communicating with others. I noticed so many beautiful aspects of my surroundings when my hands were free of my iPhone, and my ears were free of my iPod headphones. Literature, just like everyday life, is something that requires open eyes and ears in order to understand the messages authors are trying to communicate. In my classroom, I encourage my students to notice details of not only the words on the page, but of their surroundings and what other students in the room are saying. I want my students to appreciate literature in a way that translates into their daily lives; the first step being to sometimes put the iPhones, iPads, iPods and other imodes of communication via technology away. With this first step, students can take breath and a step back from the whistle and bustle of social media and discover the beauty of life that can be encountered in the most simple interactions. Living in Ireland inspired the way I see my self as a teacher of the English language as well as a global citizen.