Tuesday, May 29, 2012


For me anticipation is an important part of any travel opportunity.  I was pleased this past week to receive a Handbook from the Romanian Fulbright Commission with all sorts of tidbits in it designed to help me prepare for this adventure.  I would like to share a few of them:
  • There is a suggestion to pack a "survival kit" for the first few days, including peanut butter (or another easy to transport favorite food), towels, and toilet paper - among other things - to give me a chance to learn the local markets.  It is true I love peanut butter and had already been wondering what favorite foods to take.  While I am open to many new foods and eating experiences, I am vegetarian and I also do not eat sugar, so I will need to learn where I can find lots of freshly cooked vegetables.
  • I may send up to 160 pounds of books and teaching supplies via diplomatic courier service, but they will not return same.  If I want them back, the shipping costs come out of my own pocket.  I am guessing this is an indirect way of suggesting I donate materials to the host University...  It is all right with me, but I may need to contact some of my colleagues and maybe even my favorite textbook rep to see if I can acquire some additional books and materials to make this worthwhile.
  • I was a little taken aback by the phrase "Life is different here, and some families have found flexibility is needed to adjust their lifestyles to the environment."  My reaction is not that i disbelieve the statement, but that it seems to me to be blatantly obvious.  I chose to apply to a country where I believe things will be very different and I am looking forward to to opportunity to learn about the Romanian culture and to learn about myself as I do.
  • It is recommended that I bring an oven thermometer with me as the stove in my apartment is not likely to have a thermostat.  That seems like a useful thing to know!
  • and many more...
I am greatly appreciative of the resources being made available to me as prepare for this grand adventure: there are people in both the US and in Romania with whom I have contact; there are websites with useful information; and I am being sent a contact list of former Fulbright Scholars, so we might get in touch.  Each time I read over the emails sent to me I am reminded of additional resources I have not yet checked out.  I do enjoy the anticipation!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The ubiquity of English in higher education

I just read an interesting article that is quite relevant to my planned experience: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17958520.  The Politecnico di Milano, a leading unisersity in Milan, Italy, "has announced that from 2014 most of its degree courses - including all its graduate courses - will be taught and assessed entirely in English rather than Italian".

When I applied for my Fulbright award, I knew that I would be able to teach in English (although I certainly plan to learn enough Romanian to get by in daily activities).  I count myself lucky to not be required to learn another language sufficiently well to teach or learn in it.  In my application I commented that I believe the experience will improve the empathy I have for the Pfeiffer internatioanl students, those for whom English is not their first language.

"There are a growing number of degree courses taught in English in Scandinavia, northern and central Europe.  Nic Mitchell, founder of De la Cour Communications, which specialises in European higher education, says there are more than 4,500 university courses now being taught in English in continental Europe."

Do not take your education or your language abilities for granted!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Advance notice & prep

My travels to Romania are still a few months off, but it seemed prudent to begin my blog and let folks know the address...  I have been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and will be teaching in Bucharest, Romania for the academic year 2012-13.  I am currently a professor at Pfeiffer University, teaching Organizational Behavior and Human Resources in the Graduate School of Business.  I will be teaching (in English!) the same sorts of subjects to both undergrads and grad students in Bucharest.

Beginning this blog is also a means of allowing myself to express some of the mixed frustration and excitement I feel. I am very excited and grateful that I am being granted the opportunity to live abroad as an ambassador of the United States and of Pfeiffer University!   It was well over a year ago that I began the application process.  The last 4-6 months of waiting for the decision were emotionally hard.  (I was trying not to get my hopes up too much, but so very much wanted to be selected.)  Now that I know I am going I am anxious for details!  And that is the frustrating part...  I am still waiting for details like exactly where I will be, how much they will pay me (important for some of the details I need to take care of here at home), and when I can go...

In the meantime, I have had my physical (I am quite healthy, thank you!) and hepatitis vaccine.  I also decided finally to have my cracked tooth crowned - something I'd been putting off for a couple of years.  I am making plans to rent out my house and to update my will.  Nothing like foreign travel to help one stop procrastinating!

Speaking of which, I have other tasks to do...