Between June 2 and June 9, 2018, I traveled to the Netherlands and Belgium to study comparative higher education. The essays here will serve as a means of documenting my travel and offering a glimpse into my life as a higher education researcher, college administrator, history professor, and doctoral student in higher education. It will be a bit different than much of the other content here on This Appalachia Life, but I hope to offer some insight into my professional life that readers do not otherwise get from my essays. 

June 8, 2018

As I have trod the ancient streets of Europe this week, I haven't felt out of my element, scared, or timid at all. I have tried to conduct myself not as an entitled tourist, but as a citizen of the world, respectful of the people and the cultures around me and up for whatever adventure might come my way. 

The fact is, I have come a long way from being a kid from up the holler to someone confident in other countries and around o...

June 8, 2018

Today, we visited Go! Atheneum Gentbrugge, and I was more inspired by a group of students than I have been in a long time. 

Atheneum is a secondary school in a suburb of Ghent, and is in some ways equivalent to a US high school. One of the more striking differences, to me at least, between the US and Flemish education systems is the way secondary education is organized. Rather than high schools being place-bound, they are inste...

June 6, 2018

Today, we visited Kent University's Brussels School of International Studies. In many ways, the University of Kent is forced to straddle the line between the British and Belgian systems. This is an administrative challenge that brings front and center the realities of comparative higher education. 

For the bulk of the week, we have talked with Dutch and Flemish higher education administrators who struggle to understand the...

June 5, 2018

Today, we visited the Artevelde University College in Ghent, Belgium. I should go ahead and admit that I'm in love with the Flemish system of higher education in order to contextualize what follows, which might be considered gushing rather than analysis. 

When we arrived on the top floor of the building in which this campus of the Artevelde is housed, we were by with one of the best views in Ghent. Next door was an histori...

June 5, 2018

Because I am an historian (and maybe in particular because I'm an historian who calls myself "an historian" rather than "a historian,") people assume that I have a love for all things old. 

Part of this, I am sure, stems from misconceptions about how we define history as an academic discipline. It is likely that every community in the world has a keeper of the old stories and the old things, and being a holder of historical fac...

June 4, 2018

I love teaching future teachers, and today, I realized that the love of teaching is a universal language. 

This morning, we visited the Thomas More Hogeschool in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The institution, named after an Archibishop of Canterbury who became a Catholic saint after losing his head during the reign of Henry VIII, specializes in training teachers to teach in Dutch primary schools. In the Dutch system, there are essent...

June 3, 2018

Here in the Netherlands, people pay a lot of taxes. Accordingly, they are afforded opportunities to have education and healthcare without amassing tens of thousands of dollars in debt or going bankrupt. 

So far, one of the most striking parts of my experience in Europe is the culture shock stemming from the continent's understanding of the role of community. It clashes quite strongly with the individualistic nature of society i...

June 2, 2018

At 5:45 this morning, I landed in Amsterdam. 

The first thing the struck me was exactly what I expected: I don't speak the language. It was abundantly clear right away. While the primary directional signs in the airport were in English, the advertisements and secondary signs were not. The airport announcements were in Dutch. 

However, despite not speaking the language, I realized that I was going to be just fine, because anythin...

May 29, 2018

A few weeks ago, my classmates and I had an orientation for studying abroad. As the University of Alabama's director of study abroad programs clicked through her powerpoint, she noted that a number of things in her presentation were geared for undergraduate students rather than for doctoral students. 

I suppose few doctoral students study abroad. Our program at UA is unique in a variety of ways. One of those ways is that studen...

May 29, 2018

In just three days, I will head to Atlanta, board a flight to New York City, then catch a plane to Amsterdam. It will be my first time in Europe. 

I am going with my doctoral cohort from the University of Alabama. We are going to spend nine days in the Netherlands and Belgium, studying comparative higher education, and I am excited about the way this trip will help me re-conceptualize my work as a higher education professional....

Please reload

© 2019 -  Joshua Wilkey - This Appalachian Life