If you were anything like me, you may have heard that a Fulbright grant is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but that the application process is rigorous and very competitive. Perhaps you are filled with a lot of questions. You may even, like me, be filled with self-doubt. And for that reason, I want to share a small piece of my story.
Fulbright changed my life and I mean it changed my life in a colossal, momentous, and fantastic way. I didn’t know that when I stepped off the plane in Santiago, Chile, I was embarking on the biggest adventure of my life. I had read books about Chilean culture and history in preparation for my departure, but no book would have told me the depth of kindness I found in my peers as I slowly crawled, stumbled, and fell head-first into my Chilean life. I also would have never realized how difficult it was going to be adjusting to an entirely different world. But the incredible thing that I discovered was there were always people willing to help and guide me. The Chileans I met not only accepted me, but treated me like family – whether it was taking care of me when I was sick, helping me grocery shop and cook dinner after I had dislocated my shoulder, or lending me money when my wallet was stolen. The connections I made transcended cultural boundaries.
As a scientist (my grant was in engineering, you can read more about my research here), you are taught to observe and draw conclusions from the world around you. I found in Santiago a bustling, colorful city full of life. I curiously observed the memorials scattered throughout Chile commemorating its recent and bloody history. I savored the new flavors, smells, and sounds. I watched as one of numerous political marches or soccer (“fútbol”) celebrations passed by on the streets. I collected a hundred photos of the most beautiful street art I had seen. I strained to listen as Santiago whispered to me all that it had seen and survived. I also explored Chile in its incredible diversity. I gazed over the vast Chilean deserts in the north, hitchhiked in search of snow in the Andes Mountains, traversed over the hiking trails in Patagonia, and quietly looked in awe as the sun rose over the Moia statues on Easter Island. Chile surprised me in the most unexpected ways.
To you, Potential Fulbright Applicant, I say apply, no matter how unsure you are. Keep an open mind to any opportunity. If you are not set on any one single place, you can significantly increase your chances of being accepted for a Fulbright grant depending on the country you choose to apply (all the statistics are listed on the website). You may be just as surprised as I was to fall utterly in love with an unexpected place. (I have pretty much accepted I am Chilean by heart.) Allow yourself to take the chance of a lifetime, because it will, guaranteed, change your life.
Fulbright Alumni Ambassador 2016
Have questions for Emily about her Fulbright experiences in Chile and as a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador? You can reach her at EYedinak.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your words inpired me to apply.thanku Emily
Hello, Shagufta! I am so happy to hear that! And if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at the email above. Good luck!!
Thank you for sharing your experience!
Thank you for reading, Katerina! 🙂 And good luck if you are applying for Fulbright this year!
Thank you for sharing, this post has given me the boost I needed! I am excited to tackle the application, and get ready for this adventure to come!
I’m so happy to hear that, Veronica! 🙂 You have overcome probably the hardest step in the application process: the decision to apply. Good luck to you, and don’t hesitate to email me or any of the Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors for advice/support/help with the application!!! 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing your story and words of encouragement. I have to say working on the application which is so competitive it makes it an exciting challenge and a nice boost of confidence from an alumni really goes a long way. Good luck on your future adventures! Hopefully I can post about Ireland one day as you have.
Good luck, Pablo! 🙂 I love your attitude about the application process. You do get to learn a lot through the whole thing. And of course, if you ever need any more help don’t be afraid to reach out to any of the Alumni Ambassadors.
Well, it is really an inspiring story. However, it has not helped me to boost my self-confidence. I admire that, Fulbright is perfectly designed grant especially people just like me, with professional background and some experience in different fields. Each year, I read Fulbright announcement with hilarious interest. Unfortunately, have never decided to apply. I know the answer and I accept the fact that, my English is not good enough to apply. I am so disappointed.
Hello, Elnur! I am so sad to hear your story. If English is the thing that is holding you back, is there a way to practice?
it’s really helpful…emily what you have said encourges more thank you for sharing your story I get the courage to apply and am excited to join Fulbright but i am from Ethiopia when I tried to apply through the U.S embassy in my home country they said for Ethiopia it had been suspended because of some Ethiopian’s don’t return back after their studies to their home country so they refused to accept all students who wish to study at Fulbright program they are generalizing all as we wil not return to our home contry so please how can we Ethiopian’s get this golden opportunity i am personally disappointed we can’t get the chance please help us…Emily am glad that I get you here i hope you will respond me soon…Thanks
Hello, Blen! I’d love to try and help you; would you mind sending an email to my email at the end of the blog post? We can communicate better there.
what a nice inspiration Emely, thanks for sharing and is very useful and helpful. Previously I had applied for Fulbrigth last year, unfortunately I did not make it because of lack in English. But this weakness will not stop me from applying Fulbrigth. No matter how difficult later, I will face till I make it.
Please do keep trying! I love your attitude. Each time you know more what to expect and focus on! Thank you for sharing your story, Norberto.
I got a Fulbright grant this year. In two weeks I’ll be arriving in New York and staying for 9 months, and the pre-departure jitters have begun. I hope next year I can write something similar to this. For now, to anyone who might read this, particularly foreign Fulbright students, I say go for it. The application process is long and difficult, but it is in itself an experience you learn a lot from. Thanks for an interesting read Emily. Any plans to go back to Chile?
Eldin: Congratulations on your grant! I was terrified when I stepped off the plane in Chile (not to mention my Spanish was horrific). I hope you have an amazing experience and New York is an amazing place. Funny you should ask me if I am going back: I am heading back today! For a week visit! But my schedule is already full of people I need to visit. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll be making plenty of friends who you can visit two years from now.
I loved reading your story! I am Chilean-American and my family lives in Santiago. So, hearing how much you loved being in Chile made me so happy. I will be applying for a Fulbright next year for a graduate program in South Korea. I’m absolutely terrified to apply, but I hope that I will and that my experience that I have abroad (if i get it!) will be as rewarding and exciting as your own. Thanks again for sharing!
Hola, Joselyn po!!!! Thanks for reading!!!! I absolutely ADORE Chile! 😀 (I probably make references to it literally everyday). I hope that your application process goes smoothly!!!! Don’t hesitate to reach out to me or any one of my fellow Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors via email. We help with application and give you tips… Or if you just need a small boost of confidence, too. 🙂 GOOD LUCK! It is 1000000% worth even applying!
Hi, Emily, Thanks very much for your supporting articl. I have some questions that I have graduated my master degree this year. Could I use this programm for my future ?
Hello, Sugra! If you live in a country outside the United States, I would recommend searching for your country’s Fulbright website (a Google search, or something similar is the best way). There, you can find all the information about applying and what you would need to complete beforehand.