I have some exciting news: I have plans for the future!
Earlier this week, I sent confirmation emails to accept a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany. The grant covers approximately ten months, but it’s also possible to arrive early.
I’m honestly still flabbergasted. It’s an incredible honor. My thoughts have ranged everywhere from excited to terrified to nervous to thrilled and to having a serious case of imposter syndrome.
My path to Fulbright began over a year ago, about the same time that I began to suffer senior year induced anxiety. Halfway through the semester, I spent a week wandering around the English department and asking professors what they did immediately after college. One professor told me that she lived in France and Germany and also traveled throughout eastern Europe.
“Have you thought about teaching English abroad?” she asked.
I hadn’t, but it seemed like a perfect combination of my two majors (English Literature and German).
Last summer, I spent most of my time working on my Undergraduate Summer Scholars project, researching graduate schools, and prepping for the GRE, but I took about an hour or two each week to draft a statement of purpose and a project proposal for Fulbright. By the time August rolled around, my essays were in good shape, and as soon as I moved back to campus, I found my three recommenders.
All Miami applicants had to submit their applications to the campus advisor by October 1st, and we had campus interviews the following week. I believe there were 15 of us who submitted an application.
Three months later (January 29th), we learned the results from the first round of cuts: six Miami students’ applications were sent to commissions in other countries and to the FSB (Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board).
About two weeks later, I got an email with an additional application: all Germany ETA applicants had to translate their original essays into German. Not a horrible request, except for one thing: we had 2 weeks. I spent an entire week with my dictionary, sent my essays to a German professor and to my dad’s German co-worker for proofreading, and managed to finish 3 days before the postmark deadline. Whew!
And then we waited some more.
Since both of my classes are 2½ hours, we take a 10 minute break after the first hour and a half. I checked the unofficial Fulbright Google spreadsheet to see if there were any updates, and three Germany ETAs had posted their results. After class, I called my brother at home and demanded that he check the mailbox:
“You have… um, a magazine.”
“Um... here’s another envelope.”
(Oh. Small envelopes are not a good sign, especially when the spreadsheet tells you that the acceptances come in manila envelopes.) “How big is it?”
“It’s, like, one of those, like, yellow things.”
Since then, I’ve made contact with a few other Germany ETAers, and we’ve chatted a little about our backgrounds in German, our general interests, and our goals for the future. I also spent a few wonderfully fun days in my doctor’s office and at a local lab, getting poked and injected for the medical clearance.
Wow. It still doesn’t feel real.