Distance Learning Abroad: Living in the land of flexibility
He went to California for love, to Texas for his career, and home again to start a family. Eike Lehnen is well aware of the importance of flexibility in the land of opportunity.
My name is Eike Lehnen. I’m 29 years old and was born in Bad Oldesloe in Schleswig-Holstein. I’m studying business administration, specialising in hotel management, via the IUBH distance learning programme. I’m not studying in Germany, however, but rather in the US – in San Diego, California.
I began my studies on a normal face-to-face programme at the IUBH campus in Bad Honnef. After one semester, however, I took the decision to move to the US to be with my now wife. We had met and fallen in love during her semester abroad at IUBH, and she had to return to California.
Thankfully, I had already heard about IUBH’s new distance learning programme, and I signed up immediately. This meant I didn’t have to choose between my heart and my degree, and was able to start my new life full of anticipation.
“From rags to riches”: career pathways in the US
The biggest culture shock for me was that I couldn’t have afforded to study in the US. From a German perspective, it is incomprehensible that students get into huge amounts of debt because of tuition fees only to get a job as a waiter when they graduate. The labour market works very differently here – flexibility and change are part and parcel of working life. Maybe that’s why you can work your way up so quickly.
I’ve now been in the US for five years and have already been promoted several times in the hotel industry. I’ve continued my studies at the same time and, having opted for the part-time model, I also find time for friends and family alongside my job.
Flexibility is the top priority
The distance learning programme offers me a great deal of flexibility – in terms of both schedule and location. I was able to take my studies with me when I had to move from California to Texas for work reasons – my wife and I went to work in Dallas’s biggest luxury hotels for two years.
Then, back in San Diego, I found a position as Assistant Director of Revenue Management in one of Southern California’s most successful luxury resorts, thanks to a combination of my professional experience and the knowledge I’ve gained in my degree. In this role, I’ve now served as the manager of a team of 15 people for almost two years. I help my superior, who is based at the company headquarters in Dallas, to draw up the forecasts for the next financial year and to set the room prices, for example.
So far, the distance learning programme has allowed me to follow all of my dreams: I was even able to take a break from my degree and my job when our son was born in June. The three of us went to visit my family in Germany and travelled around Europe. It was a really important opportunity for me to spend time with the baby.
The land of opportunity or good old Germany after all?
I really enjoy living in the US, especially in sunny San Diego, so we’re planning to stay in America for now, although we probably want to go back to Germany in the longer term. Apart from family and friends, the thing I really miss about Germany is good, hearty, freshly baked bread. And holiday. In the US, you only get two weeks of paid holiday – and that’s only once you’ve worked at the company for two years.