Gretchen King, '12
Gretchen King, ’12, majored in Intervention Specialist, Mild/Moderate Needs while at Muskingum. A native of Caldwell, Ohio, King transferred to MU from a larger school that just wasn’t a good fit.
King chose to spend her student teaching semester abroad in Ireland. Several of her family members had studied abroad during their college careers, and King knew she wanted to do the same. “I couldn’t think of a better time to go than during…college,” she explains.
King describes her experience overseas: “I decided to teach abroad because I couldn't think of a better time or reason to go abroad than to teach students of another culture. (It also helped that I was able to get funding!) Plus, it had always been my dream to go to Ireland, so why not go and live there for three months when I had the opportunity? That semester was definitely the most amazing semester I had. The host family that I was put with was just awesome. My Irish mother was so warm and welcoming and anything I needed or was worried about she was there for me. I think she was just happy to have a girl around, as she is the mother of three boys who all still live at home!”
Discussing the school where she taught, King says, “My students were the best. I taught in a public, all-boys’, Catholic school in the middle of Bray. It had classes (or grades) 1-6. I worked with small groups from almost every grade. I got to know whole second grade classes because I co-taught with their teachers. I also got to work a lot with students who were learning English as a second language.”
About cross-cultural education, King says, “Their schools are a lot different than ours, but no matter where you go in the world the people are all the same. We all have worries and feelings, so it’s not hard to relate to someone just because they're from a different country.”
King’s trip wasn’t all work and no play – she also had the opportunity to travel, taking day trips to Dublin and the Cliffs of Moher. “The entire country is beautiful,” she says. “Everything is green and lush and just gorgeous. There are old castles and so much history….”
King shared about some of the lessons she learned that she will bring into her own classroom: “I think student teaching abroad gave me a wider view of education. No education system is perfect, but we can all learn from others to improve what we have. I think that student teaching abroad may give me an edge when applying for jobs, especially with the way the job market is now. Also, I learned how to work with different people and assimilate into a culture enough to be productive and useful. Those are good skills to have for any job. In the school where I was, there seemed to be innate sense of respect for the teachers and each other, and it seemed like they all at least understood why education was important. I felt like there was also a lot of parent support and staff collaboration that helped with the school’s success.”
King is passionate about study abroad and encourages anyone considering it to take the opportunity. “You may never have a chance like this the rest of your life, so why not do it now? With as much technology as everyone has, it isn't that hard to stay in touch with friends and family. I Skyped with my family almost 3 times a week while I was in Ireland. It almost felt like I never left sometimes! You may get a little homesick, but if you pass up your opportunity, you will probably always look back at your time at MU and wonder how things could have been different if you had decided to go abroad. Don’t take the chance on that regret. I know that studying abroad isn’t for everyone, but if you’re even considering it, don’t give up because you’re worried about how things will change at home. Change is going to happen regardless of where you are, but there’s a whole big world out there just waiting for you to come explore it. Why not?”