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.

Luxembourg
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.

Photo-1 

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.

Photo-2

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.   

Photo-3

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,

Scott

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 612 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 grads who work at Kohler Co. visit campus

    Did you know that more than 300 Lakeland College graduates work at world-renowned Kohler Co.? On Friday, six of those successful alumni returned to campus for a special “Employer Spotlight Event” featuring Kohler Co.

    The Lakeland grads spoke to current students about how Lakeland prepared them for post-graduate success and gave advice on how to launch great careers at Kohler Co. – or anywhere.

    Kohler Co. is a manufacturing company and global leader in kitchen and bath products, as well as in cabinetry, engines and generators. The company is also known for its hospitality establishments, including the state’s only AAA 5-Diamond and Forbes Five-Star resort hotel, along with renowned golf courses that have hosted majors.

    Johanna Beckmann, a 2005 Lakeland grad and Kohler Co. senior HR specialist, was joined by colleague Ashlee Ansay for a general presentation to Lakeland students about Kohler Co. and how to apply there. Beckmann graduated with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. Her 2004 internship with the PGA Championship at the Kohler-owned Whistling Straits golf course helped spark her career with Kohler Co.

    In addition to sitting in on the general presentation, the other five alumni then spoke to classes that relate to their former majors:

    Artur Barsegyan, communications specialist – email marketing at Kohler Co., spoke to John McKenzie’s Critical Communication Approaches to New Media class. Artur graduated with his bachelor’s in business management and international business in 2001, then earned his master of business administration in 2003.

    Jake Frias, certified personal trainer, spoke to Kathy Rath Marr’s Nutrition for Sport and Exercise class. Jake earned his bachelor’s in fitness and sports studies in 2010, then added a master of arts in counseling in 2013.

    Joel Frias, corporate security officer, spoke to Richard Lemke’s Ethics and Justice class. Joel graduated in 2013 with a criminal justice degree.

    Matt Holm, senior master scheduler, spoke to Abe Qastin’s Management Principles class. Matt graduated in 2009 with a degree in business management.

    Megan Hoffmann, master scheduler for Kohler Water Spa, spoke to Qastin’s Management Principles class later in the day. Megan graduated in 2011 with a degree in business management.

     

     

  • Our cool new cross country course!

    Lakeland College has a brand new, on-campus 5-kilometer cross country running course, and we're hosting two local high school meets and the Homecoming run there this fall.

    This Thursday, Sheboygan North and South will compete in a girls’ varsity dual meet and boys’ junior varsity meet on the new 5k course. On Oct. 16, we will host the big 12-school Fox River Classic Conference varsity meet.

    Next year, our course will be expanded to include an 8k option so our cross country teams can enjoy home meets.

    Also, this year’s Homecoming run, the chip-timed “Fish out of Water 5k Trail Run,” will take place on the new course at 10 a.m. on Oct. 4. Registration is open to all at lakeland.edu/homecoming.

    “We are excited to open a home cross country course on campus, not only for our growing intercollegiate cross country programs, but also for local high school and middle school programs,” said Nate Dehne, vice president for athletics and wellness.

    Part of the course goes through campus, but a large portion of it winds through Lakeland’s picturesque Grether Woods. Another part of the course hugs the perimeter of an open meadow. As runners close in on the finish, they will come around an on-campus pond, then sprint the length of the football field to the finish line.

    “The course is a wonderful blend of open fields and wooded paths and is ideal for a cross country course,” Dehne said. “Our hope is that recreational runners will also find their way to campus and run the course.”

     

  • Improvements all around campus

    While Lakeland’s students were away for summer, the college underwent some significant, positive improvements.

    Following is a brief recap of those upgrades:

    • Bandwidth capacity on campus increased tenfold, and 233 wireless access points were installed across campus for improved coverage.
    • The Suites received new carpeting, paint, bathroom fixtures and furniture.
    • All residence halls were outfitted for HD cable TV.
    • The Esch Library was re-carpeted.
    • The dining hall received a new coat of paint and new chairs and blinds. In addition, the floor was stripped, bringing out its original shine.
    • The softball team dugouts were completed, making the field available to the Muskies this spring.
    • The Wehr Center gym floor was refinished.

    There are also ongoing projects, such as:

    • Arthur M. Krueger Hall will receive a new boiler and temperature control system to address problems with inconsistent temperatures.
    • A new security card access system will be installed, further strengthening security across campus.

     

  • Musko is on display at the Milwaukee Public Museum!

     

    Musko is on display at the Milwaukee Public Museum!

    Yes, our popular 4-inch foam rubber Musko Muskie doll has landed a co-starring role in a display titled “Animal Icons.” In the encased exhibit, Musko stands proudly next to a stuffed Badger, which, of course, represents the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    The exhibit will be up until April 2015, said Dawn Scher Thomae, curator of collections at the museum. Read more about it here: http://www.mpm.edu/student-exhibit-animals-re-envisioned. The Milwaukee Public Museum, which opened in 1882, hosts about 700,000 visitors a year, according to its website.

    So how did our very own beloved mascot land in this fun, educational exhibit? Last year, Scher Thomae and her daughter, Alex, toured Lakeland and Alex received a Musko Muskie doll. Though Alex chose a different school, she and her mom were highly impressed with Lakeland, and Alex kept the doll on her desk at home.

    “When I was thinking about the section of the exhibit about mascots, of course I thought of Musko, because he’s so cute,” said Dawn Scher Thomae, laughing. “I told Alex I was going to borrow him for about a year.”

    A sign that’s part of the display says, “Schools and sports teams frequently adopt animal mascots to inspire pride and create a shared group connection with their fans.”

    Scher Thomae coordinates and teaches graduate courses in the UW-Milwaukee/MPM museum studies graduate program, serves as the museum’s internship coordinator and is involved a variety of museum educational programs.

    She’s also a big fan of Lakeland College.

    “I’m a big believer in small, liberal arts colleges, and we had a fabulous visit to Lakeland,” she said. “Yes, my daughter chose a different school, but Lakeland was a very close No. 2 choice. I still talk up Lakeland College quite a bit.”

  • Nice honor for Joshua Kutney

    Joshua Kutney, Lakeland College assistant professor of composition, recently learned that his paper, “Rhetoric, Transfer, and the Students We Actually Teach,” has been chosen for presentation at the 2015 Conference on College Composition and Communication.

    The CCCC annually attracts about 3,000 attendees. Past speakers at the conference have included Olympic medal winner and social activist John Carlos, Huffington Post blogger Todd Farley and “The Meaning of Freedom” author Dr. Angela Davis.

    Kutney’s paper, which is based on a portion of his dissertation research, will be presented in Tampa, Fla., next March. The CCCC is the premier conference regarding composition studies.

    Kutney said his work is based on analysis of more than 400 student papers and will be part of a session about the transfer of writing skills and knowledge from introductory composition courses to major-specific courses.

     

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: 920-565-1206
  • MAIL: PO Box 359, Sheboygan, WI 53082-0359
  • DIRECTIONS: W3718 South Drive Plymouth, WI 53073-4878

Connect with us

Follow us & get in touch.

You are here: Home Scott Niederjohn Blog Why Luxembourg?