When I was approaching the end of my semester abroad in Spain, I knew I wanted to come back. I didn't know how I was going to make it happen, but I was surely going to speak it into existence. It was going to be my senior year, so I started looking at graduate programs and post grad programs in Spain until I stumbled upon Fulbright. After reading what it was all about and finding a blog that detailed a former Fulbright’s experience, I knew that it was the program for me! Fulbright is essentially a scholarship program that fosters cross-cultural exchange through study, research, language learning, and teaching. Having the opportunity to join a network of people who desire to learn about diverse cultures on a one-on-one basis through immersion was too much to pass up. I had to at least try.
The application process for Fulbright is not for the faint of heart, but it is doable. The Fulbright advisor at my campus was great in terms of providing contact information for Fulbright Alumni who were professors on campus. Meeting with them really helped fine tune my essays and gave me the chance to discuss what I hoped to gain from the experience. I applied for the English Teaching Assistant program, so my essays needed to be free of errors and flow nicely, which is where our Center for Writing and Communication came in handy. There I could have English graduate assistants critique my essays. I’m sure you have something similar at your school, if not, a friend is just as helpful in the writing process. I had great Spanish professors who were more than willing to complete my language evaluation form. The biggest help was from my psychology professor who has been a cheerleader for me since freshman year. Overall, I felt all the people I interacted with at the University of Memphis wanted to see me succeed and made the process, albeit a stressful waiting game at times, pretty smooth.
You can choose whichever country you would like; however, you can't apply to multiple. When you go to the Fulbright website you can choose the type of award. In my case I'm doing English Teaching Assistant (ETA). Then there will be the regions separated into East Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East & North Africa, South & Central Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Western Hemisphere. From there you will be able to see all of the different countries where you can apply, if there are any language requirements, and the number of awards they usually award annually. If you want to find out more about what you will be doing in each country to decide what is the best fit for you, just click on the specific country name.
What are you most excited for?
I’m excited about everything! But really I'm most excited to live and work in a different part of Spain that I have never been to before. Last time I was in Sevilla, so this will be different for me. Also, I think it will be a new experience to be really immersed in the community, have my own apartment, Spanish bank account, and all the things that come with being independent.
As soon as you know you want to apply, reach out to your advisor on campus, professors that know you well for recommendation letters, and start writing drafts for your essays. In general, be confident in your ability and all that you have done to get where you are now. The application process is tough, so stay focused and surround yourself with people who believe in you and will cheer you on.
Danielle Porter is a CEA alum.
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