Why are we overseas?

Though Ruben is an American citizen (er… will be, when his passport arrives next month), he was born in a local hospital in Heidelberg, Germany (as folks saw and heard in his Day 1 video). What are two three Americans (Kirstin’s ambiguities notwithstanding) doing in Germany?

I work for the University of Maryland University College (UMUC), and am currently with their European program, after having spent the last six years in Asia. UMUC is contracted with the US Department of Defense to teach college classes to US military, civilians, and local nationals living abroad. Thus, we are university professors teaching abroad, and no (the most common confusion), we are not English teachers…except for, well, the English teachers. I’m a Psychologist by training, and taught everything from Intro Psych to Learning and Memory to Research Methods to Stats. Thousands upon thousands have taken classes with UMUC overseas, and many finish their bachelor’s degrees while abroad. It’s really a great idea– if you’re going to station folks away from home, bring the important services to them, so they don’t have to put their education on hold (and by services I mean not just banalities like the food court and golf…though I won’t look the gift course in the mouth) . I’m quite proud of what we do.

UMUC has been overseas since 1949 (in Europe) and 1956 (in Asia), and as I’ve said many times, it’s an absolutely wonderful teaching opportunity for newly minted Ph.D.’s, faculty looking for an interesting sabbatical, or early retirees. Times are certainly changing, with the downsizing of the overseas military population and proliferation of competitor online institutions (reputable and otherwise). Regardless of these obstacles, formidable as they appear at the moment, it’s a great community and organization, and many folks have fond memories of their time overseas with our program.

Besides some background on why Ruben is starting life in Germany, this is a lengthy lead in to a nice series of blogs put together by a former overseas Marylander. Take a look at some of the pics especially– it really was, and still is to some extent, a “rock-star” lifestyle to be out here, and these blogs give some clue as to why so many of us come overseas “for one to two years” and end up staying much, much longer.

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1 Response to “Why are we overseas?”


  1. 1 Dennis Gwynn Monday, 2 April, 2007 at 19:36

    I take exception to your dscription “rockstar” life style. I know that clearly as I taught Biology and Geology full time in both divisions from 1976 until 1993. As your post is good, I know it was only an unfortunate choice of words, but it does leave an undesirable impression as to how we live[d]. It is much more a “Peace Corps” life style.


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