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 700 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's dynamic nursing partnership

    Lakeland College offers students interested in nursing careers a clear pathway toward automatic entry into highly regarded Columbia College of Nursing.

    Here’s how this “two-and-two” partnership works: pre-nursing students successfully complete two years of liberal arts core classes on Lakeland’s main campus, then seamlessly transfer to Columbia – located in the Milwaukee suburb of Glendale – as direct admits. There, they complete the final two years of clinically intensive nursing curriculum.

    For Lakeland students who excel, there are no waiting lists or elaborate admissions requirements. They’ll earn Bachelor of Science degrees from Columbia after four total years of college.

    “Yes, we’ll have our degrees from Columbia, but we’ll always be Muskies,” says Lakeland pre-nursing student Rachael Millner with a big smile.

    Millner, a sophomore, is one of five pre-nursing students planning to transfer to Columbia after this school year. Fellow sophomore Emily DesJardins is another. Counting freshmen, there are currently more than two dozen pre-nursing students currently enrolled at Lakeland.

    “It’s scary listening to friends at other colleges talk about trying to get into nursing programs and being on long waiting lists – even though they have 3.7 grade point averages,” says DesJardins.

    “That’s the really great part about this partnership,” adds Millner. “We don’t have to worry about applying and getting rejected. If we do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be in.”

    Lakeland Associated Professor of Biology Greg Smith says there are other advantages for students who begin their nursing journey at Lakeland. They include:

    • Exposure to Lakeland’s many extra-curricular activities, including sports, theatre and music, which are not offered at many traditional nursing schools.
    • The option to change majors after one or even two years and still graduate in four years with a bachelor’s degree from the natural sciences division.
    • Guaranteed placement within the vast Columbia St. Mary’s network of hospitals and clinics for those who continue in nursing.

    “Nursing schools are popping up all over the place, but sometimes they’ll say, ‘We can provide you with all of the necessary coursework, but not the clinical experience,’” says Smith.

    The Columbia brand is strong, and creates numerous post-graduation employment options. Smith says the Columbia St. Mary’s network, which has served Wisconsin since 1901, has numerous hospitals and clinics all over Southeastern Wisconsin.

    “The Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital is one of the best in the state, and they hire a lot of Columbia College of Nursing graduates,” says Millner. “For a student like me, that’s really important.”

     

     

     

  • Charlie Krebs visits local high school, shares acting expertise

    Charlie Krebs, Lakeland’s enthusiastic associate professor of theatre and speech, recently shared some of his acting expertise with students at Plymouth High School.

    Krebs spent a couple of hours at the high school, demonstrating the art of theatrical sword fighting to students who are preparing for their fall play, “Robin Hood: The Courtship of Allan A’Dale.”

    “It’s really a lot of fun to visit a high school and work with all of these great kids,” said Krebs, who has attended theatrical sword fighting seminars in Las Vegas. “They’re hanging on your every word, and are really excited about learning new things. At the same time, they come up with really great ideas, and it’s cool to see them unleash their creative sides.”

    The Plymouth High production will debut on Thursday, Nov. 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium, with additional shows that Friday and Saturday night and Sunday at 2 p.m.

    During his visit, Krebs first armed the students with foam swimming pool “noodles,” and let them whack away at each other for a few minutes before teaching them specific staged sword fighting moves.

    After that, students were given wooden “swords,” and finally, some of the top performers gave demonstrations with metal stage swords.

    “There’s definitely an art to this,” said Krebs. “It’s not improv. You don’t just start swinging the sword around in a way that’s not choreographed. If you were sword fighting in real life, obviously you wouldn’t want people to see it coming; you’d be trying to hurt them. But on stage, you want it to look cool. You want it to look real, but it should have a real flourish to it. You put your whole body into it, leaning in and out, really selling the performance to your audience.”

     

  • Jenny Kjin: A portrait of determination

    Jenny Kjin was heartbroken. When you’re in second grade, there’s something particularly devastating about watching your mom sob.

    Especially when it’s over you.

    “She was bawling,” Jenny recalls. “They had tested everything – my hearing, my reading, my writing – and when we came in for the results, they said I had severe dyslexia.”

    Jenny and her mother, Elaine Schenk, were told Jenny might never read at above an elementary school level. Dyslexia is a lifelong learning disorder that can cause extreme difficulty reading.

    “My mom cried for a while, then said, ‘OK, what can we do?’” says Jenny. “She has been my rock through everything.”

    These days Jenny, now 21, is a superstar at Lakeland College. The senior, who’s double majoring in nonprofit organization management and communication, has earned straight “A’s” for two consecutive years. She was named Lakeland’s 2013-14 Communication Student of the Year, and is listed in “Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges.”

    “I’ve put in a lot of hard work,” she says of her success. “I spend many extra hours on school. Memory repetition is my best friend, and I am never afraid to ask questions in class or spend extra time talking to my professors. They have been phenomenal.

    “My huge thing is persistence and dedication, combined with the fact that I love to learn.”

    It hasn’t been an easy journey for Jenny, who hated elementary and middle school. She heard the taunts of cruel classmates, and regularly lay awake at night wrestling with her fading self-esteem.

    But family, friends and a Madison-area tutor named Kathy Penstin – with whom Jenny remains close today – helped her battle her dyslexia and manage it.

    “High school is where I blossomed, where I realized how much I love to learn,” Jenny says. “And I had that great support system of those who care about me.

    Still, dyslexia remains with her. It always will.

    “The best way I can explain it is that it’s like trying to figure out Morse code,” she says. “I feel like I have a handle on it now, but it’s not something that ever goes away. You learn to cope with it. But it’s not a hindrance.”

    There were some frustrating times at Madison East, a bustling school with more than 1,500 students. When it came time for standardized testing, Jenny got a 16 on her first stab at the ACT. She eventually willed that to a 19, but was still discouraged.

    “I had a ton of friends who were getting 30s and higher,” she says. “I wondered to myself, am I even meant to go to college?”

    She visited
    Lakeland and fell in love with the peaceful, rural, friendly feel of the private school near Sheboygan with fewer than 900 traditional on-campus students.

    “After my visit, as I was leaving, I knew I didn’t have to take any more visits,” she recalls. “I knew in my heart this is where I am meant to be.

    “I’m very comfortable here. All of my professors know me on a first-name basis, and I know them on a first-name basis. They care about me. Nothing against UW-Madison at all, but the small class sizes Lakeland College offers with professors who care about me as a person is what I prefer. The small, personal touch. You don’t get that at the larger schools.”

    Jenny has certainly given plenty back to the Lakeland community. She’s a past president of the Lakeland chapter of Habitat for Humanity, a student ambassador and a resident assistant. She’s interned at the Sheboygan County Humane Society and the Dane County Humane Society.

    As she prepares to leave Lakeland, Jenny yearns to keep paying forward that personal touch she’s received at Lakeland.

    A giver at heart, she says, “My big thing is giving back to the community, helping either people or animals in need. That’s my dream job.”

     

     

  • Talented Tyler

    As a Lakeland College student, 2014 graduate Tyler Holman exceled in multiple disciplines of art. His amazing work included sculpting, painting with oils and acrylics, drawing with graphite and charcoal, photography, graphic design and much, much more.

    Tyler’s capstone senior exhibit was a spectacular display of artistic diversity, and his website, atylerholmanproject.com, showcases this vast talent.

    “I’m always looking for opportunities to explore new experiences,” Tyler says.

    Indeed, since he graduated in May, Tyler has branched out in many different, interesting ways, such as entering a world-wide Godzilla movie poster contest (he was a finalist) and creating a billboard for Lakeland College that is now on display on Highway 42 in Howards Grove.

    Click the following link to check out his Godzilla poster (his is the first poster on the second row):

    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.752042311492842.1073741833.443771755653234&type=3

    Also, visit our Facebook page for an album that includes a picture of the billboard, a photo of Tyler and more:

    https://www.facebook.com/LakelandCollegeWI .

    “I love to help promote things I care about through my art,” Tyler says. “I feel accomplished about the billboard, and I am very happy to help Lakeland any way I can.”

    Tyler was invited to showcase his work at a prestigious art show in Madison this Friday (Oct. 10), something he’s very excited about, and he got good reviews after entering the world-wide Hiiibrand graphic design contest:

    http://www.hiiibrand.com/competion.php?act=lwmd&id=17

    “My art is not meant to impress others,” he says. “It’s about growing as an individual and empowering yourself to do what feels right. Art is relaxing, therapeutic in a sense. There’s no correct or incorrect way to create art, and that’s why I enjoy it so much. It’s about having your voice within your work. It’s a way of being heard.”

  • Two more graduates joining ACUITY

    When Pablo Palacios and Josh Reynders graduate from Lakeland College in December, both will have computer science degrees and full-time positions at one of the fastest-growing, most successful companies in the Midwest.

    Based on their stellar work during a summer internship program at ACUITY, the two seniors were offered computer programmer jobs at the highly acclaimed Sheboygan, Wis.-based insurance company. They’ll begin shortly after graduation.

    “I think ACUITY will continue to have a great source of talent as it keeps working with Lakeland,” said Pablo, who added he was thrilled when he got the offer.

    Josh said that his Lakeland experience prepared him well for this demanding internship, particularly the aspect of hands-on learning and working with others.

    Pablo and Josh were two of six college students who took part in ACUITY’s first-ever computer science internship. The company is growing fast, and given that more of its employees hold degrees from Lakeland than any other college or university, it made sense that a third of the interns were from Lakeland.

    Marcus Knuth, ACUITY’s vice president-enterprise technology, has a computer science degree from Lakeland he earned through the college’s Evening, Weekend and Online program. He has been working with Cindy Lindstrom, Lakeland’s assistant professor of computer science, to further strengthen Lakeland’s connection to ACUITY.

    “In my current position, we are looking to hire a lot of new computer science graduates, so we interview people from universities and colleges from across the country,” Knuth said during a visit to Lakeland earlier this year. “And I’d say the talent level and caliber of students that come out of Lakeland is equal to, on par with or better than anything we’ve seen from all the other universities in the area. So, definitely, you get a very viable education when you go to Lakeland.”

    Said Lindstrom: “I have a good feeling ACUITY will continue to sponsor and employ our qualified computer science graduates.”

    Other recent Lakeland computer science graduates now working at ACUITY include April Thern, Stephanie King and Adam Beltran. Dozens of other Lakeland grads from other academic programs also work at ACUITY.

     

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?