Lakeland College

Why Luxembourg?

October 23, 2013 By In Scott Niederjohn Blog
Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Bonjour, Guten Tag, Hello, Moien, Lakeland Friends,

While on sabbatical this fall from Lakeland, I am living with my wife and four children in Luxembourg City. The U.S. Fulbright Scholar program has provided me with the opportunity to teach and work at the University of Luxembourg this semester. This is the first of periodic updates on my activities here in Europe as they relate Lakeland.

First, many readers might be asking, “Why Luxembourg?” Actually, I suspect many are also asking, “Where is Luxembourg?” as I’ve had kind well-wishers from campus offer me good luck in London, Belgium, Lichtenstein, and Germany. Perhaps this isn’t surprising given the size of this tiny country—smaller than Rhode Island and wedged between France, Germany and Belgium. To provide an example of how small this country really is, we travel just 20 minutes to Belgium to visit the local IKEA store and about 25 minutes into France to find a sporting goods store. I’ve finally learned to put my phone on “airplane mode” when I go shopping so my Luxembourg-based service provider doesn’t charge me international roaming fees as I do errands.

The choice to spend a semester here wasn’t made haphazardly; in fact, this opportunity came about after a number of years of careful planning and relationship building both in Europe and Wisconsin. My interest in the country of Luxembourg originated with a meeting back in the spring of 2010—organized by Lakeland Interim President Dan Eck— at the Luxembourg-American Cultural Society, located in Belgium, Wis. This society is involved with activities designed to preserve Luxembourg heritage and culture in America and nurture the ongoing relationships of family, friendship, commerce, and tourism between Luxembourg and America. Since that meeting, Lakeland has worked closely with this society on projects related to student internships, philanthropy, research, event planning and business development activities between the United States and Luxembourg.

This relationship with the LACS eventually led to an invitation by the University of Luxembourg to visit their campus and investigate opportunities for our two institutions to work together. I visited Luxembourg in February of 2012 in an effort to begin to establish student and faculty exchange programs between our college and the University of Luxembourg. During this visit, I made a number of important contacts with officials in the Luxembourg government and with faculty and staff at the university. Connections made during this visit eventually led to the invitation to visit the University of Luxembourg as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. Both institutions believe that a semester-long faculty visit will be an ideal way to solidify the relationships we have begun to build in terms of student and faculty exchange. I’m happy to report that our first two Lakeland students will be studying in Luxembourg during the spring term of 2014, but more on this in future updates.


Due to various rules related to the Fulbright Scholarship Program and Luxembourg’s immigration process, our family was not allowed to enter continental Europe until early September. Given this restriction, we decided to spend the last couple of weeks in August visiting the United Kingdom. While most of our time in England and Scotland was family vacation, I did have the opportunity to arrange a meeting with the general manager of the Kohler Company-owned Old Course Hotel in St. Andrews, Scotland. The tour of this beautiful facility, right next to the famous “Road Hole” on the Old Course, made me feel like I was back in Sheboygan County with the Kohler plumbing fixtures and water spa identical to the one in Kohler, Wis. This visit led to a promising invitation to work with their personnel to develop opportunities for Lakeland students to serve as interns at the hotel, and I’ve already heard from colleagues at home telling me they have advisees interested for next summer.


We were fortunate to have a week to get settled in Luxembourg before my duties at the university began. The immigration process is quite time consuming (especially for six!) and it took a while to understand how to use the bus system, shop for the basic necessities of life, and generally acclimate ourselves to life in a new country. Luxembourg is a very interesting place—at any time you can hear a multitude of languages being spoken in the various public places around the city. The Luxembourg education system emphasizes language instruction and produces high school graduates that are generally fluent in their native language of Luxembourgish, as well as German, French and English. The official language of the government is French and therefore signs and official documents are displayed in that language. My investment this past year in attempting to learn French has come in very handy as I navigate the public transportation system and fill out the various government forms. 

One of the wonderful benefits of the Fulbright program is the connection with the U.S. State Department and Embassy system. We receive invitations to all of the local U.S. Embassy’s official events, one of which occurred during the first week we arrived. My wife, Stephanie, and I attended a reception and premiere of the movie “The Butler” with a distinguished group of guests, including the American and British ambassadors to this country. Interestingly, I learned that evening that America’s first African American ambassador was stationed right here in Luxembourg in 1965. 

I’m now about three weeks into my course titled, the United States Economy, Culture and Business Practices. My class is one of four options students in the economics and business majors can choose among to satisfy one of their requirements. This seminar-style course explores a number of topics, including: U.S. economic history, the American economy today, the financial crisis of 2007-2009, American business and entrepreneurship as well as general issues of cultural and business differences between the United States and Europe. To enrich the final topic, the class will be visiting the U.S. Embassy in November and hearing from a guest speaker from the American Chamber of Commerce here in Luxembourg, as well. We are reading two books—Michael Lewis’ “Boomerang” which discusses how the U.S.-centered housing crisis spread quickly to Europe’s economies, and Walter Issacson’s well-known biography “Jobs,” recently made into a film, which will help us think about entrepreneurship in America.   


My class is, of course, taught in English. The university is tri-lingual and all of the students enrolled in my section also take classes that are taught in French and German. In addition to being a multi-lingual school, all of the University of Luxembourg’s undergraduate students are also required to complete a “mobility” assignment. Essentially, this assignment requires them to study abroad for one semester. Because the country is so small, many of the students choose to simply live at home with their parents and drive to one of the universities in the neighboring countries to fulfill this requirement. This problem explains their interest in Lakeland as they would like more of their students to study in North America, Asia or at least outside of the bordering European countries.

I currently have more than 70 students enrolled in the class, which is causing my wife some stress as I’ve invited them all over to our small rented home for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (and to watch the Packers beat the Lions) next month as part of the “culture” component of the class. The students at the university are allowed to spend the first month of the term sampling various classes and are not required to actually register for their final schedule until next week. This system has taken me some time to adapt to as I have no idea which students will actually be enrolled in my class until we are almost one third of the way through the term. Another significant difference between American higher education and the typical European university also became apparent in my first class meeting. The students here are used to classes that are completely lecture-based with their entire grade dependent upon one high stakes exam at the end. They seemed very confused when I explained that part of their grade was dependent upon discussion of the books we’re reading and that they would also be making group presentations on different topics related to America. Even the quiet students that are a little nervous about the discussion and presentation components of the class are excited not to have to take a long final exam in January and instead be evaluated throughout the term on a diverse set of assessment activities. 

I’ll close by mentioning that I’ve also been busy attending faculty meetings, discussing strategies for building our exchange program with University of Luxembourg faculty and staff, and learning more about best practices for internationalizing Lakeland’s business programs. This week, I will be making presentations to the students here about opportunities to study abroad at Lakeland. I’ll share more about all of these activities in next month’s installment.

Until then, Addi, Au Revior, Good Bye, Tschau,


PS—The first question many of those that know me well asked when they heard I was moving to Europe wasn’t where we will live or where my kids will go to school, but how I will watch the Packers. Well, it’s about 7:30 pm here in Luxembourg on Sunday, October 6, and I’m enjoying watching the Packers beat the Lions. We plugged a device called Slingbox into our cable box in Wisconsin and we can watch all of the Time Warner Wisconsin cable channels—including our DVR—here in Luxembourg on our computers, iPads or iPhones. Another example of how flat the world has become.

Read 1912 times
Scott Niederjohn

A noted state economist, Scott Niederjohn is one of the nation's top advocates for adding economic education to K-12 curriculum. Since joining Lakeland's faculty in 2004, Scott has led the creation of the Lakeland Center for Economic Education, which works with EconomicsWisconsin to create financial literacy and economics curriculum and other tools for K-12 teachers. His research has been featured in numerous academic journals, and his research and thoughts on public policy and other state issues regularly have him quoted by statewide media outlets.

Related items

  • Lakeland Mirror wins awards

    Three Lakeland College student journalists, competing against peers from schools as large as the University of Minnesota, Iowa State University and North Dakota State University, won individual awards at last weekend’s Associated Collegiate Press Best of the Midwest College Journalism Convention in Minneapolis.

    There were more than 250 contest entries. States represented included Indiana, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

    The Lakeland Mirror website, which went fully digital this academic year, took 10th place in the Website Small School category, which included institutions with traditional student enrollment of less than 10,000.

    Individually, Lakeland freshman Stephanie Figueroa took fourth place in the News Photo category for her photos of Muskies international soccer players with their faces painted in the colors of their native countries. Figueroa painted the faces, then photographed them.

    Lakeland senior Ben Wilks was eighth in the Editorial/Commentary category for his column about police brutality.

    And senior Peter Ludolph took 10th in the News Story category for his article about vaping and Lakeland’s policies regarding it.

    “I think I speak for co-adviser Gina Covelli when I say we are proud of our Lakeland student journalists for the way they have made the transition from mostly print to fully digital this academic year,” said Pete Barth, the college’s manager of communications and, along with Community Relations Manager Covelli, the Mirror’s co-adviser.

    “We certainly have room for improvement, but what’s exciting is how our students strive to get better every day. These awards are nice validation of that.”

  • Speaking from the heart

    When Lakeland’s Pi Kappa Gammas offered a suicide awareness presentation on campus last week, sorority sister Mikayla Hilton could have sat quietly in the background. Her friends certainly would have understood.

    Instead, Hilton stood front and center in the 1862 Lounge before more than 50 of her peers, and talked about her father’s suicide just two years ago.

    “There were people in the audience with tears in their eyes,” said Pi Kapps treasurer Jessica Luecke.

    The Pi Kapps’ presentation included a PowerPoint with suicide statistics, trends, warning signs and informational videos. Hilton, a junior, said talking about her father’s death was difficult, but important. She wanted students who are dealing with suicide in their families, or having suicidal thoughts themselves, to know they are not alone. The Lakeland softball player credited her family, friends, Muskies coaches and teammates for forming a strong support system that helped her get through the tragedy.

    “Suicide is a topic people don’t like to discuss, but it’s more of a profound issue in our society,” Hilton said. “When it affects you, it’s not an overnight thing to get through. It’s never easy. But it gets easier.”

    Hilton’s opinion about why suicide is so prevalent is that the dominance of social media in people’s lives is causing pain and unrealistic expectations.

    “We tend to compare ourselves to others and being like them instead of focusing on being the best person that we can be,” she said.

    Hilton said she was nervous before addressing the group. But she soon felt more comfortable talking about the tragedy that will always be part of her life.

    “I realized I don’t have to hold this in anymore, that I can now let people know this is a part of my life,” she said. “I am thankful I was able to share my story in this way, and if our presentation helps even one person, mission accomplished.”

  • Lakeland grad Vollmer continues to shine at NFL headquarters

    If you tuned in to Sunday night’s NFL Pro Bowl game, you saw a whole lot of Lakeland College graduate Steve Vollmer.

    Well, you didn’t literally see Steve. He was back in New York, enjoying time with his family after spending several days in Hawaii. What you saw was Steve’s vast creativity bursting to life through the décor and various logos, colors, patterns and typography splashed all over the stadium and TV screen.

    Vollmer, who graduated in 2003 from Lakeland with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing, is a senior designer for the NFL. It was his creative concept for this game that was chosen by the league’s leadership and approved by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

    Steve arrived at Lakeland as a business and marketing major. He graduated with a double major in those areas, but took a May Term class in Quark Express, a graphic design program, and fell in love with it. An internship in the college’s communication department allowed him to hone his skill, which he says was pivotal in preparing him for a career as a graphic designer.

    “I had always kind of excelled at art, and I loved it,” he says. “But I never really made it a priority in my life because I didn’t know I could make a living doing it. Once I discovered that it could be, I embraced it, and with the help of Lakeland College, I have made a career out of it.”

    Steve was in Honolulu for about a week making sure all of the creative content on site – from logos to typography and colors – aligned with his concept and NFL branding guidelines. He also worked with league partners and sponsors to make sure they understood how his concept should be brought to life.

    “For me, this has been an absolutely humbling experience,” he said last week by phone from Hawaii. “I think back to my first day of class at Lakeland, and how intimidated I was. Now, to be a part of something like this, I’m very grateful. For my work to have been chosen, that’s something I will never take for granted. I was ecstatic when I found out everyone was on board with my concept.”

    Steve said the key to coming up with a successful concept is combining creativity with research about an event and the community where it will take place. His Pro Bowl vision included some unique typography that payed homage to Hawaiian warriors of the past.

    Now that the Pro Bowl game is over, Steve is revving up his creativity again. He’s working on concepts to help promote a series of games played in London, and then he’ll focus on the all-important NFL draft in April.

    He said he loves working at NFL headquarters in New York, and appreciates the opportunity for advancement. Possible future moves up the ladder include becoming art director or creative director.

    “But my long-term goal is to start my own company someday within the world of sports,” he says. “That’s my dream.”

  • Lakeland again bringing students to WorkForce Career and Internship Fair

    Lakeland College students and alumni who want an internship, a full-time career or admission to graduate school are encouraged to take advantage of a tremendous opportunity available to them on Feb. 16.

    On that day, Lakeland students will have direct access to representatives from more than 100 companies, organizations and graduate schools at the WorkForce Career and Internship Fair in Milwaukee.

    Free transportation and admission to the event, which takes place from 3-7 p.m. at the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds, is provided for all registered Lakeland students, including those in the Evening, Weekend and Online program.

    Members of Lakeland’s Success and Engagement team have been manning an information table about the event in Bossard all week. They are there to help you register for this special event, which is coordinated by the Wisconsin Independent Private College Career Consortium.

    Check out to pre-register and learn about the participating organizations and institutions.

    “We are extremely excited to once again provide this fantastic opportunity to our students,” said Jess Lambrecht, Lakeland’s director of career development.  “This fair provides a couple of hours of one-stop shopping for our students. Having that many employers and graduate schools right there on site provides limitless opportunities.”

  • Breaking the ice

    Charlie Krebs challenged his students, and many of them rose to the occasion.

    Krebs, Lakeland’s associate professor of theatre and speech, recently offered students in his public speaking class extra credit. All they had to do was approach a table of students they didn’t regularly interact with at lunch and ask to join them.

    Eight students accepted the challenge, and sent Krebs selfies to prove it.

    The exercise was a way to nudge students out of their comfort zone, and Krebs said “I’m so proud of them, because I’m sure it was difficult.”

    “When we talked about it later, I asked the students if it was hard, and they said it was a little awkward at first, but when they left the table, people said things like, ‘It was really nice having lunch with you,’” Krebs said.

    “My feeling is now, when those students see the students they ate lunch with on campus, they’ll say, ‘Hey, how are you doing? We ate lunch together!’ This is just one way to break down that fear of interacting with people we don’t know.”

    Krebs said this experiment went so well, he plans to regularly incorporate it into his classes moving forward.

More in this category: Thanksgiving in Luxembourg »
Lakeland College Logo

Contact Us

Got questions or comments? Let us know:

  • PHONE: 1 (800) 569-2166
    FAX: 920-565-1062
  • MAIL: PO Box 359, Sheboygan, WI 53082-0359
  • MAIN ADDRESS: W3718 South Drive Plymouth, WI 53073-4878 | Directions

Connect with us

Follow us & get in touch.

You are here: Home Scott Niederjohn Blog Why Luxembourg?