Life in the Netherlands has not only cemented my identity as an expat. Since 2001, I have been a part of the Dutch academic system. My journey has taken me from a bright-eyed, enthusiastic master's student, to a determined and sometimes desperate PhD student, and finally into the grown-up world of employment as an assistant professor.
I am often asked how I have managed to stay here - rooted in a very Dutch sector - with such a pathetic understanding of the language. I try to gloss over my own laziness when it comes to language courses. But I can honestly answer that it's mainly because English is my native language. Universities in the Netherlands are touting a new buzz word: Internationalisering. Whether one agrees with this or not, the race is on to internationalize. The process is resulting in more hiring of international staff, more recruiting of students from abroad, and more programmes and courses in English. This means that one can manoeuvre through the entire university system - from a bachelor's degree to a PhD - entirely in English. And if a PhD graduate wants to continue on as academic staff, there are more and more Dutch and international students to teach...in English.
Janelle Ward is a born and raised Minnesotan living in Leiden, the Netherlands. Nine years ago she came to Europe for a brief international experience. Along the way, having acquired a Spanish husband, a PhD and a little one, she has found that observing life outside her comfort zone is a true passion. Visit her blog post BlondebutBright.
Photo credit: Janelle Ward
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