It’s rare for students to know exactly where they want to study abroad before they even start college. For Ellen Beverley, however, there was no doubt in her mind that she wanted to study in Mexico. Her junior year of high school, Ellen’s family hosted a Mexican exchange student, Veronica. The more she got to know Veronica, the stronger her desire to visit Mexico grew.
Three years later, the pair was reunited, but this time, Ellen was the foreigner. She spent the full year studying abroad in Puebla, Mexico, the same city where Veronica was in medical school. Though it was nice to know a local, Ellen quickly learned to branch out on her own. She even took a Mexican folk dancing class. She also took advantage of a program with a local elementary school that allowed her to spend six hours each week teaching English to 4th-6th graders. There she discovered her passion for teaching. She was able to set her own curriculum and figure out what worked best for her students. By the end of her lessons, each student could write full paragraphs in English.
"I learned more from the students than they did from me," said Ellen. "I decided I wanted to teach English as a Learned Language (ELL) for my career. When I got back to Tulsa, I added an education major and now am starting my master’s in teaching ELL at Vanderbilt. If I had not studied abroad during my time at TU, I might never have found my passion for teaching."
Unfortunately, two years after Ellen’s return, Mexico was placed under a Department of State travel warning. For the safety of its students, the CGE will suspend approval of any programs in Mexico. Though you can appeal to study there, we recommend that you look into options in other countries. If you’re looking for an experience like Ellen’s, talk to your study abroad advisor about programs with teaching opportunities.