International Connections


Brooke Harbaugh

Major: Elementary Education



Year: Sophomore
Hometown, State: Dubuque, IA

Type of experience: Faculty-Led Program
Experience: School of Education in Rome: Comparative Pre-K-12 Education in Italian Schools
Experience website: https://isuabroad.iastate.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Programs.ViewProgramAngular&id=13728
Destination: Italy

Overall experience..
This was a completely eye opening and humbling experience! To be able to see how others live and learn while getting to have experiences that no one else gets to have, is what was most amazing to me about this trip. My favorite part of the experience, aside from making new friends in my group, was getting to meet people of all different backgrounds, and really be able to learn from them first hand about their culture.

I learned...
I learned about this experience from the Professor who led my trip, during my SPED 250 class.

An impact to my life...
The trip provided me with an opportunity to see other parts of the world, that I may not have seen otherwise. I got to live how others live, eat what others eat, and see how others learn! I picked up a lot of things during my time abroad that I will definitely include in my own classroom and life going forward.

My most valuable learning experience...
My most valuable learning experience while in Rome, was learning how to be even more self sufficient and independent than I thought I was. Even though we were always in groups, we had to navigate places on our own especially on our weekends off. This forced us to step up and use the tools we had to figure things out. These are valuable skills that will definitely be carrying over as I continue through life.

I will never forget...
While on this trip I got to experience crawling up the Holy Stairs. These stairs are the exact ones that Jesus crawled up when he was being crucified. They have been closed for 300 years, and were opened for 60 days which happened to overlap with my time abroad. It was an extremely emotional and humbling experience and one that I will never forget.

A surprising discovery...
When going into this program, I thought I would be observing in a school that had a special education program. I was completely shocked to learn that the school had a special education program, but it was not in use because of the lack of special education students. This was because it was an elite private school. I was even more surprised to learn though, that Italy basically lacks special education programs in all of it's public schools. This made me realize how fortunate we are in the United states to have the special education program that we do, and made me realize how important it is to make these students feel welcome and included in the classroom. This is something that I will definitely take into account when I begin teaching.

Advice for others...
If you’re having doubts about studying abroad, I highly recommend doing it! If you do choose to study abroad, there may be challenges, but keep a positive attitude because it will really make your experience better overall!

Submit your experience!

International Connections home