Kira Kirchen

“With every stay abroad comes the struggle of having to say goodbye”
Kira Kirchen
International Teacher Education for Secondary Schools student

Now in her third year of the ITESS (International Teacher Education for Secondary Schools) program at NHL Stenden in Groningen*, Kira is currently on Exchange in Oslo, Norway. It's an experience that she hopes will give her new insights and a chance to experience a different way of learning. 

* The study programme ITESS is re-located to the city of Meppel as of 2023-2024. 

“A few years ago, my high school sent us to a study fair and that was where I discovered NHL Stenden and got to talk to students from the ITESS programme. After looking into it more, I found out about the many opportunities to go abroad and the DBE concept with its applied and practical learning. As I always wanted to become a teacher one day, but didn’t want to stay in Germany my whole life, this programme seemed like the perfect fit for me.” 

The ITESS programme was more practical than I thought. Right from the start, I had the chance to work on my presentation skills and on becoming more comfortable with talking in front of a group. In addition, being surrounded by international peers taught me a lot about other countries and their cultures but also helped me understand more about myself. So, apart from pedagogical and subject-related knowledge, the focus on my personal and professional development is a big part of why I enjoy this programme. 

Exchange to Norway 

I decided to go on Exchange to gather new insights and to experience a different form of education and university programme. At the same time, it would allow me to explore a new country and its culture and maybe learn another language. Besides, as I am part of an international programme, they encourage us to use all these opportunities to go abroad and collect more experiences which will help us relate more to the experiences of our future international students. 

Being in the field of education, I am very interested in how I can support students with special needs better. That's why I looked for a programme that was somehow related to inclusive education or special needs. I also enjoy creative subjects such as music, art and creative writing, so when I found a course called “Aesthetics and Special Needs” at OsloMet in Oslo, Norway, it was a great combination of the two interests. Even though it mostly focuses on younger children (kindergarten or primary school), I knew I would gain a lot of ideas for my own classroom later. 

Settling in 

“During my Exchange, I really enjoyed meeting new people, exploring Oslo together and making many amazing memories with them. Of course, the nature here is really beautiful as well and it's a great place for hiking and all types of outdoor sports. When going for hikes for example, I always have to watch out for cross country skiers crossing my way or when walking on the frozen lake nearby, people on ice skates might pass by. But this also means that the temperatures are generally quite low. Right now at the beginning of March, I sometimes wake up to -10° in the morning and a winter wonderland that does not seem to end.” 

“However, with every stay abroad comes the struggle of having to say goodbye to the people at home and facing a bit of uncertainty with not knowing what is going to happen. Besides, moving to a new country where they speak a language you don’t know can also be a bit scary but at the same time it's exciting. Especially at the beginning, discovering so many new things is very thrilling but you need to realize that it always takes some time to actually settle down and adjust to this new life. Being homesick is often also part of this process. However, from my experience, once you get there and meet some people, everything becomes easier.” 

To find out more about the programme, check out the International Teacher Education for Secondary Schools programme page or request the programme brochure. Or check out the different international opportunities NHL Stenden offers.