Back to Blacksburg

Well, I’m back in Blacksburg after an incredible global adventure.  Many more pictures and stories will follow, but for now I have two goals: (1) to express how incredibly enriching of an experience I had, and (2) to report back on all of the excitement that has occurred since I have returned.

It’s difficult to enumerate what I learned through my travels, but it was certainly a great deal.  Some involved simply learning new ways of doing everyday things (like turning on the water at the sink with a foot pump– brilliant!).  I was exposed to three new languages as well.  However, at a more complex level, I learned a new culture of education.  For 10 days, we, as a group, visited multiple universities in Switzerland, Italy, and France, learning about how each dealt with a vast multitude of responsibilities, including teaching, outreach, tenure and promotions, research funding, fundraising, alumni relations, examinations, and more.  Oftentimes it was easy to find similarities between the European and US systems.  Other times, the differences were more apparent.   In both cases, it was clear that institutions of higher education could benefit by keeping a global dialogue and collaboration of ideas alive.

It certainly was a life-changing experience.  The Chronicle of Higher Ed recently released an article to solidify this feeling– they say that studying abroad can change one’s brain!

Life since I’ve returned has been equally enriching.  With the help of two trusty research assistants, I am preparing to collect data for my dissertation.  With IRB approval standing behind me, I’ve charged head-first into recruitment.  We’re all reviewing and practicing research protocol, and are looking forward to soon swarming in 4-year-olds.  Meanwhile, the lab remains busy in the midst of many other projects with a variety of age groups.

It’s an exciting summer.  I can hardly wait to report back on all of the excitement to come!

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