Today is also the first day of my transition into retirement. I will spend up to five years where my responsibility is only in the classroom. I will teach a reduced load and will not participate in those wonderful committees and meetings that make up the university setting. These students will comprise my first class while I am no longer on the full-time payroll at WKU. What a way to kick off this new chapter in my life than to teach my first class leading twenty-three students on a three-and-a-half week adventure in Amsterdam. The class begins two weeks from today with a 1:00 departure from the Nashville airport. Raise a glass to my first 29 years at WKU.
Two weeks from today, July 1, twenty-three students and my colleague Matt Pruitt will depart Nashville airport on a trip to Amsterdam. Seventeen of the students will study economics and six will be enrolled in Matt’s sociology class. My students are to keep a journal. Today is the day they are to start. They have until Sunday to make their first entry outlining their preparations and expectations.
We have eight female students and fifteen male students. With one more guy we could sing the song “Two guys for every girl.” This is an eclectic group of students. There are several world travelers and several who have never been on an airplane. We have honors students and students who have experienced the anxiety associated with academic probation. Four students have never been able to purchase alcohol legally in the United States and a fifth will have had the honor of being 21 for only six days when she departs. Three students do not quality for reduced international train fares in Europe.
My expectations are high for this group. In our pre-departure orientation and social gatherings, they seem to be the most energetic of all groups we have had. If you knew the history of some of our past students you would know this is quite exceptional.
My typical modus operandi is to start packing soon prior to departure. This time, however, most things are already in my bags. There are only a few things left that can be cone from here to prepare for the students’ arrival. Those who know me well will wonder who is writing this. Perhaps it is this sort of retirement thing.
The most rewarding part of leading a study abroad experience is to see how the students grow over the trip. In both classes they will be able to observe first-hand the theory they study in the classroom. They return home much different and much more confident that when they left. Here’s to one more group of WKU students in Amsterdam with Pruitt and Dr. Dan.