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Mount Union Welcomes Teaching Assistants From Four Different Countries

November 14, 2022

International Education Week is November 14-18, 2022. To celebrate, our four native speaking teaching assistants here at Mount Union will be talking about their experiences with studying abroad in America. Our four teaching assistants are Amandine Lam (French), Hajime Mikamo (Japanese), Ainhoa Garcia Michelena (Spanish), and Finn Schüler (German).

 The four native speaking teaching assistants, from left to right: Hajime Mikamo, Amandine Lam, Ainhoa Garcia Michelena, and Finn Schuler

First, Amandine Lam holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Korean languages, literatures and civilizations from the University of Aix-Marseille; a master's in French as a Second Language from the University of Pau et les Pays de l'Adour; and a Post-Graduate Certificate in education from the University of Worcester (United Kingdom).

 Amandine Lam stands with her first ever s'more

“Coming to Mount Union was a good opportunity for me to gain experience in teaching French at the university level and it gave me the chance to live and travel in the US and around,” Amandine says. “I like the fact that it's a small university because the classrooms are not over-crowded which improves the quality of learning and teaching consequently. It also allows us to know the students better and to build nice relationships with them. Everyone has also been very welcoming and nice. There is always someone to help which is really reassuring as foreigner.”

Next up, Hajime Mikamo is a graduate of Kansai Gaidai University with a degree in English. His university has a partnership with Mount Union and asked him to come here after graduation. “My favorite thing about Mount Union is the gym!” Hajime says.

 Hajime Mikamo sits in a classroom with students at Mount Union

Next, Ainhoa Garcia Michelena holds a degree in primary education with an English minor from the University of the Basque Country. She says the opportunity to work as a Spanish teaching assistant and improve her English drew her to Mount Union. “I love the on-campus community, the ease of getting to things, the closeness of the professors, and the importance given to each student,” Ainhoa remarks about the University.

 Ainhoa Garcia Michelena stands in front of a nature scene in her hometown

Last is Finn Schüler, who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in English/education form Leuphana University in Lüneburg. “Mount Union has excellent resources for international students,” Finn says. “We TA's get the Unlimited Meal Plan for free, free housing, and most importantly, we get paid. My favorite thing about Mount are the geese that are randomly waddling all over campus.”

 Finn Schuler poses for a photo

When asked how the experience of studying abroad in America has impacted them, each teaching assistant gave insightful answers. Amandine says, “This experience has given me more insight about the US culture and a chance to experience a kind of ‘American college life’ with all the events/clubs around campus. It has also helped me to improve my (American) English and my teaching skills as I have the freedom to create and try new activities in class.” Hajime adds, “This experience has influenced my English fluency and cultural understanding of different nation.”

 Amandine stands in the nature of her hometown

“I am getting to know a different way of living, the food is different, as are the schedules, the classes, and the way of learning. It's nice to see how you can do the same things in a different way,’ Ainhoa answered. Finn responded, “It can't be understated how difficult studying abroad really is. Think of it this way - what do you do to de-stress after a long day of work? You probably get some self-care time in. Good food, watch some Netflix, and maybe get a good night of sleep. When studying abroad it is often hard to tick all those boxes. Sprinkle in some homesickness and it can get quite easy to lose your inner balance. My time overseas has definitely made me a more resilient person overall. Hajime is taking in as much of the experience as possible. "It is very interesting to see how different our cultures are (even within the west). In life, it is always good to see beyond one's own nose. My time at Mount made me realize how easy it is to think of your own perspective and your own experiences as the norm. When in reality, the world is way more complex than that.”

 Ainhoa Garcia Michelena stands in the nature of her hometown

To learn more about Mount Union’s world language studies, click here.