I started my teacher training in the fall of 2010 in Vienna at a ‘Higher Education Faculty’ for teacher training. Before that, I studied something completely different at a proper University in Vienna for a couple of years. During that time I also completed courses at the National Sport Academy in Austria.
As you can see, before I moved to Sweden to study and work I went through various tertiary educational facilities. Since I spent the last couple of years in the teacher training program I was familiar with teacher training. While I was in Sweden I attended regular English courses, history courses and most of all, courses for student teachers and pedagogy students. I was sort of used to a high level before because the University program I previously attended was not easy. The courses at the Sport Academy were also on a high level, but it was something I’ve been involved in for many years before, making it less of an ‘issue’.
Thinking back now, it’s surprising in a way that the level-up to a Scandinavian University was relatively easy. I really enjoyed learning. I really enjoyed studying again. For the first term abroad I told myself to only focus on studying, don’t look for work, just be full-time student again, at least as long as it’s enjoyable for you. As the end of the first term was nearing I started working again and beginning with the second term I was more in thesis-writing mode than classic student-mode. But this whole year of various university-experiences gave me a lot.
I’ve been back in Austria now for almost two months now, and back at teacher training for a couple of weeks, starting my final year. These first weeks made me think a bunch.
It already felt so different, even though I’ve only been to a couple of seminars. These two seminars, maybe 6 hours in total sparked the question for the title of this post: was it more of a transition going to a swedish university or is the ‘real’ transition now my final two terms back at an austrian faculty?
It almost seems like more of a philosophical question than an actual scientifically thought-through theory. The first two years of teacher training in Austria weren’t perfect, and weren't easy. This has a lot do with how the training is run and how the laws are made, and the study plan is executed. I didn’t always feel like I was improving and learning a lot, maybe I was getting a bit frustrated in my second year, which had a lot to do with my decision to study abroad. But then again, I didn’t really know what to expect, I knew I wanted to improve, learn useful stuff as a future teacher and become better and better at it. If I would have stayed in Austria for my entire studies I believe I couldn’t be as good as I can be with the experiences that I had abroad. Now the point here is more that being away from this specific institution can be more valuable than staying there. Can I even really assume something like that? What if I would have stayed, I wouldn’t have an opposing opinion because there wouldn’t have been the experience?
In my case, this might have happened anyway. Here’s why: one of my closest friends, who was in the same teacher training program went to study abroad a year prior to me going. Judging by those experiences my opinion changed even though I was still at ‘home’. We talked about what she has been learning, and how big of a difference it was to really learn something.
But what about students who don’t experience something like we did? Well, as far as I can tell after talking to many students, both primary school and secondary school teaching students, it seems like everybody wants more, wants something better. I can’t recall anybody saying that it’s enjoyable to be at this faculty, but the generally negative mood about teacher education in Austria is a topic for another day.
It seems to me that adjusting upwards is more natural because I’m always excited for challenges, and with that comes more work, but also more fun. This was probably an even bigger deal because my opinion about my program was on a downward spiral before, so having a new environment with challenging studies made even more of an impact. This up and down could also explain why it’s tough to be here again. It will hopefully calibrate itself again, although deep down I don’t want to revert back to ‘lower levels’ again.