Browsing Tag

United Kingdom

U.S. Fulbright

Engineering a New Mindset across the Pond

May 4, 2016
Emmanuel Johnson

Emmanuel Johnson, 2013-2014, United Kingdom, working in the lab

On September 10, 2013, I arrived in London, England at the King’s Cross tube station. As I left the station, I was hit by a cold breeze which quickly reminded me that my initial assumption about the weather in England was wrong.

I arrived in Birmingham, England a week later to begin my master’s program in robotics on a Fulbright grant. From day one, I was welcomed by students from various cultures. In the States, I was accustomed to meeting students from around the country, but in Birmingham, I met students from countries around the world – a few I knew nothing about. The exposure to different cultures challenged my views daily. I questioned my thoughts on dress, ideals, biases and ways of living. In the United Kingdom, the weather, fashion, food and dialect were different. I was naïve to think that because the British spoke English, the cultural elements wouldn’t be much different than those in the United States. I was constantly reminded of the difference between the two countries: when I rode the lift (British word for elevator), rode the tube (London subway) and had to get a jumper (British word for sweater) to keep warm.

The main focus of my Fulbright grant was to pursue a master’s in robotics and conduct research in human robot interaction. My research explored ways in which a robot can use gestures to provide feedback to a student during a learning activity.

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U.S. Fulbright

Cross(-cultural) Fit(ness): A Fulbright Experience in London

October 21, 2014
MaSovaida

MaSovaida Morgan (third from top left), 2012-2013, United Kingdom, with fellow athletes at CrossFit London

The summer before I departed for my Fulbright year in London, my head was in the clouds with visions of what my life there might look like. I scoured the internet for any information I could find about my university and the neighborhood I planned to live in. I plotted all kinds of extracurricular activities and made plans to get involved with the local community – and in a city as diverse and dynamic as London, I knew the possibilities for imbibing the local culture were endless.

Fulbright awards to the United Kingdom are unique in that at the postgraduate level, scholars carry out their research within the framework of master’s programs at universities around the country. As the Fulbright-University of the Arts London Postgraduate Scholar, my master’s thesis research at London College of Communication (LCC) explored how an individual’s interaction with screens affects modern reading habits and our relationships with printed books. My time at LCC afforded me the unique opportunity to investigate this nascent subject in an interdisciplinary environment while building bonds with some of the most creative and inspiring individuals in media.

There was never a dull moment during my Fulbright year – I was on the go constantly and found opportunities for intercultural engagement everywhere I went. But of all those occasions, the most consistent occurrences were at my local CrossFit gym, CrossFit London. I began CrossFit right before my move to London – of course, as I was envisioning my life the summer before, I figured that I would keep at it but could not have imagined it would be the source of cross-cultural exchange and camaraderie that it was.

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Foreign Fulbright

Views from Across the Pond: Exploring Legal and Civic Cultures

September 17, 2014
Lucy Chambers - 1

Lucy Chambers, 2013-2014, United Kingdom (right), painting bookmarks for literacy projects for the Cambridge Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

As a Fulbright Student from the United Kingdom, I pursued a Master of Laws degree at Harvard Law School; in my LL.M. research, I investigated the utility of a functionalist approach to private law, and how this U.S.-based approach to legal research can be useful for better understanding UK private law theory. This involves developing my knowledge of law and economics, both institutional and situational economics and efficiency theory, and applying this and other theories of private law, including a remedies-focused approach, to the UK laws of contract and restitution so that a fuller theoretical picture may be developed. I hope to take this research and knowledge back to the UK and further the study of Law and Economics, along with a functionalist approach to private law, at all levels of legal scholarship and teaching.

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U.S. Fulbright

An Ornithologist Learns the Rules of Cricket

March 19, 2014
Catherine - 1

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.

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Yes, We Moved a Family of Five to Leeds in Three Months, By Michael Trice, 2010-2011, United Kingdom

June 20, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the spring of 2009, I hit the jackpot.

While in the middle of conducting usability tests for a new payment system at Texas State University, I received an email that my alternate status to go to the United Kingdom as a Fulbright U.S. Student had just been bumped up to principal status.

My initial reaction? Panic!

I bolted from the room to phone my wife. We had agreed earlier that morning to close on a new house and I had just accepted an offer from the Communication Studies doctoral program at the University of Texas. But everything had suddenly changed.

We cancelled the bid on the house, I had to let down Texas, and suddenly, my wife and I had to figure out how to move our three children to Leeds in less than three months.

At least it wasn’t London.

The appeals process for getting the kids into school was tough. The transition from sunny Austin to ever-changing Leeds had a few hiccups. But to this day, all five of us see it as one of the great, best adventures of our lives.

The opportunities we had in the United Kingdom could fill a dozen blog entries. In fact, I wrote 14 while there. However, I’ll stick to some of the highlights.

I came to the United Kingdom to work with Professor Stephen Coleman at the Centre for Digital Citizenship in Leeds. He put me in contact with the fabulous Knowle West Media Centre, a completely green media lab open to the public with sound mixing studios, video and photography equipment, computer labs, and an amazing staff. The KWMC changed my life.

Carolyn Hassan and Penny Evans started out in Knowle West running art projects. They turned those art projects into an eco-friendly multimedia lab with multiple computer studios, a sound mixing booth, photo gallery, and about every other media space one might imagine.

Oh, and they did it to serve one of the most under-represented neighborhoods in Bristol.

For six months Carolyn, Penny, and the very talented and accommodating web maestro Russell Knights, allowed me to assist in the University of Local Knowledge project. The goal was to record 1,000 videos from the Knowle West community of 11,000 people that would allow each resident share and preserve local skills and history. For my part, I built a wiki installation that allowed a handful of community members to come in and record some notes that might eventually lead to ideas for videos. It offered an incredible chance to evaluate digital literacy in a place just alien enough to really push my preconceptions.

They taught me far more than I offered them, but I made up for that slightly by inviting Carolyn and Penny to speak about their amazing work at SXSW this year.

My Fulbright year also included planning two conferences at the University of Leeds, teaching an undergrad usability course, volunteering photography lessons to kids in state care around Leeds, organizing a museum exhibit for that photography and a good number of family escapades. Oh, and the British kindly held an election while we visited.

After my grant, I even started a small business with some fellow UK student scholars. I’m also currently working toward my doctorate at Texas Tech University in Technical Communication and Rhetoric while continuing to research digital engagement.

What’s the secret to such adventures?

Let your research/study project guide you, but remember that your Fulbright grant is a promise to engage communities, and every locale has a wonderfully diverse range of communities wanting to be engaged.

As Cicero said, “The life given us, by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal.”

Photo: Michael Trice, 2010-2011, United Kingdom, on the terrace of the Great Bath in Bath