As part of Global Engagement Day, I attended a discussion with a panel of four Fulbright winners. I was surprised by the variety of experiences of the panelists, and it helped me get a better idea of what type of Fulbright I want to apply for. One of the panelists did an English teaching fellowship in Germany, and she enjoyed her experience and living in the country for a long period of time. While I originally thought I would dislike that type of Fulbright, her experience seemed really positive and influential, although I probably would be better suited for other fellowships. Another one of the panelists received a master’s degree fellowship, and she pursued a degree in European Studies at a university in Belgium. When I entered the meeting, I too thought that I would apply for the Fulbright to receive a graduate degree at a university in another country, likely in Europe. Her experience seemed very positive, and her degree was free of course. Two of the panelists conducted research, and it was really interesting to hear their stories, since research was a little vaguer and hard to picture. One did research in China and another in India. It was interesting to hear how they were able to set up these projects and coordinate letters of affiliation. At first I thought that research would not apply to me since both of the panelists were already in graduate school and getting their masters, but I ended up meeting with the coordinators of the Fulbright program at OU and they convinced me that research was actually possible, especially with my research I already conducted in Zimbabwe. I will talk more about my application and research proposal in a later post.
Overall, I was happy to see in all of the experiences the level of immersion that the panelists had during their Fulbright year. While each of them said that the time passes by too quickly, I could sense that each of them truly lived in another country, and brought part of that culture back with them, which is partially what the Fulbright is for in the first place.
Non-traditional study abroad: with Holly Crawford (studied abroad in Tanzania and Ecuador), Kayleigh Kuyon (Israel), Felicia Padilla (Uganda), and Tanner Satterthwaite (Cambodia)
Another panel that I attended for Global Engagement Day was for non-traditional study abroad experiences, “non-traditional” meaning those to places outside of western and central Europe. I really looked forward to this one because I had been to both Brazil and Zimbabwe with OU and was eager to hear how my experiences compared with others’. Among the panelists, places traveled included Tanzania, Ecuador, Uganda, Israel, and Cambodia. Besides Australia, all of the habitable continents were covered. All of the trips were short-term, mine included, with the exception of my friend Holly’s semester in Ecuador. It was interesting hearing about how different everyone’s trip was, especially in terms of accommodations. In Tanzania, my friend Hannah said that they had to use buckets for showers and use the restroom in the woods. These methods contrasted sharply with the hot showers and zippy plumbing my CCEW team and I enjoyed in our hotel in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. And I think all of our short-term experiences paled in comparison to the months-long tenure that Holly had in Ecuador, especially since she lived with a host family and spoke Spanish most of her trip. It made me aware of the vast differences in study abroad opportunities that OU offers. It also made me anxious to return to Brazil, Zimbabwe or somewhere else for a longer stint of time–maybe something that a Fulbright could provide!