Category Archives: U.S. Fulbright

Medical Research and So Much More: My Fulbright Journey

Kaitlen Howell, 2010-2011, Germany

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Kaitlen Howell, 2010-2011, Germany, reflecting on what it means to be an American citizen

During my time as a Fulbright U.S. Student, I worked on research teams at the internationally-recognized Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and at an inpatient neurological rehabilitation facility in a small village (Therapie-Zentrum-Burgau). My study tracked the outcome of patients who had come to neurological rehabilitation in a coma or another decreased state of consciousness to see if they recovered consciousness or function. My primary study group was patients who had received CPR and not regained consciousness afterwards. This work challenged the current belief that the negative result of one certain brainwave test called SEP could always predict that a patient would never improve. Our study succeeded in showing that patients could regain consciousness and function despite this negative test result. These results later led me to present my research at an International Epidemiological Association Conference in Portugal.

My life in Germany consisted of much more than my research. Living in Germany was a lot different than I imagined. Despite my degree in German, I often found it difficult to express myself. I stumbled over words and felt unable to convey my sense of humor across the language barrier. I did, however, make others laugh. One time, I even unknowingly changed one tiny word in a common sentence: instead of saying I needed to use the restroom, I said I needed to crawl into the commode!

The 2015-2016 Fulbright U.S. Student Program Competition Opens on May 1. Want to Get up to Speed on How Fulbright Works? Watch This.

How It Works: Fulbright from Fulbright Program on Vimeo.

Want to Know What it’s Like To Be a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant? Check Out This Video.

Fulbright English Teaching Assistants (ETA) Program from Fulbright Program on Vimeo.

An Ornithologist Learns the Rules of Cricket

By Catherine Sheard, 2012-2013, United Kingdom

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Catherine Sheard, 2012-2013, United Kingdom, posing along Hadrian’s Wall about 50 miles into the trail between Housesteads Roman Fort and Crag Lough, England
(Photo courtesy of Eliza Gettel)

Once every two weeks, I leave the office early, walk down to the field behind my department, and score-keep a cricket match. Cricket enthusiasts are almost exclusively fit, well-coordinated middle-aged men from the Commonwealth, which I most definitely am not. It turns out that you don’t need to be able to actually play cricket in order to score it. You just need to count accurately, to bellow loudly, and to stay sober until the end of the match; something I, a brash non-drinker with a degree in mathematics, can handle.

After almost a year of living in the United Kingdom—and almost an entire season of cricket—I now know my wickets from my overs and my byes from my leg byes, not to mention my “pants” from my “trousers” and my “chips” from my “crisps.” I came to England on a Fulbright Study/Research grant to begin a Ph.D. in Zoology, based at the University of Oxford’s Grey Institute of Ornithology, and here I have learned much about birds, sports, and life itself.

If you do it properly, earning a Ph.D. is a lot like scoring cricket. There’s a lot of tedium, yes, but then there’s also a lot of excitement. I spend about half of my time programming a computer to simulate avian evolution and the other half measuring the dusty carcasses of birds killed in the 1800’s, but really, what I’m studying is sexual selection, the reproductive success of a creature determined by how melodious its song is or how brightly colored its feathers are. Comparing Cricket to my research, there are always going to be dot ball moments, times where a worthy ball is ‘bowled’ but without a run resulting from it. But there are also the ‘sixes’ (an automatic six run score from hitting the boundary mark) when the batter’s on 29 runs, which can be as exciting as the simulation that finally runs and condenses pages of code and megabytes of data into a simple statistical statement about evolution.

Navigating Politics, Civil Society, and the Public Sphere in Greece: One Fulbrighter’s Experience

By Michael Nevradakis, 2012-2013, Greece

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Michael Nevradakis, 2012-2013, Greece, giving a presentation on the progress of his research at the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences in Athens, Greece

When I first found out that I would be spending nine months in Greece performing research for my doctoral dissertation as a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grantee, there were some who thought that I was not making a wise decision. “Why would you want to go to Greece now?” they would ask. “Haven’t you seen the riots and unrest in the country?” Beset by a severe economic crisis that has generated international headlines, Greece is a country that is experiencing historic and turbulent changes. It is precisely for this reason, though, that I decided to go to Greece to perform research.

Being of Greek descent, this was not my first visit to Greece. It was, however, the first time that I would spend an extended period of time in the country. Interestingly enough, a number of people that I met while there expressed the same proclamations of surprise that I had chosen to come to Greece at such a difficult time as I had heard back in the United States. “Why did you come here when you could have stayed in the United States?” I would be asked, or “Why would you want to come to Greece when most young people in Greece want to immigrate?” Far from being dissuaded, I became ever more enthusiastic about my research.