How teaching abroad led me to Niagara University’s Graduate School

by Olivia Fleming on November 13, 2015
How teaching abroad led me to Niagara University’s Graduate School

Growing up in a family full of teachers, I thought I would never follow in their footsteps. Studying international business economics for my undergraduate bachelor’s degree, I was determined to work in the business field. I had a minor in Spanish from my undergraduate university but wanted to improve my Spanish before entering the workforce. I had just completed an internship with one of the top 10 internships in the U.S. and was determined to utilize my business background upon graduation, or so I thought.

The easiest way to live abroad as an American is to teach English as a second language. Since I was determined to improve my Spanish, a few short months after graduation, I found myself living in Madrid, Spain, on a 10-month contract. I was the language and culture assistant, better known as an English teacher, in a primary school right outside of Madrid.

At first I felt uncomfortable being in front of a classroom full of students who barely spoke my language, but that soon changed. I began enjoying my days in the classroom more and more. I found myself planning games and activities for the students outside of class, decorating the classrooms for every holiday, and even going to the multiple birthday parties I was invited to. It’s important to understand that it’s a very different culture in Europe so going home and having lunch with my students and their families was the norm. I was truly accepted into this small community with open arms and fell in love with my students and job.

Upon my return home to New York in July, I knew a career change was in order. I didn’t know how to go about telling my family and friends or where to begin this new career path I was so eager to start. Of course, my family and friends were so happy I had found my passion, even if it was after studying a completely different area at my undergraduate university.

Multiple family members (aunts, cousins, and my sister) all have their education degrees from Niagara University, so they suggested I talk to someone here about the master’s program. In the last week of July, I met with the graduate studies department about applying for the spring 2016 semester. Before leaving the meeting, I was already accepted and registered for classes, which started only a few short weeks later.

Although everything was happening so fast, I couldn’t be happier with my choice for graduate school. Niagara has really helped me adjust to not only graduate school, but also from the transition of living abroad. The professors are all so experienced and many have taught abroad as well, which gives us a lot to relate and talk about. I cannot believe I will have my Master's of Science in Elementary Education in three short semesters here at Niagara but I couldn’t be happier with my graduate school choice!

For more information about Niagara's M.S.Ed. in Elementary Education, contact Dr. Michelle Ciminelli via email or at 716.286.8184!