The application for the 2021-2022 Fulbright award cycle is now open! The key to putting together a strong application is early preparation and understanding key components of the application and selection process. Read on to learn more about the Fulbright program and how to get started with applying!
What is the Fulbright program?
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a federally-funded cultural exchange program that provides recent college graduates, graduate students, and early career professionals the opportunity to conduct independent research, pursue advanced coursework, or teach English in over 140 countries around the world.
Who is eligible to apply?
Individuals who meet the following criteria are eligible to apply for the 2021-2022 award cycle:
- U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals
- Have earned a bachelor’s degree by Spring 2021 (i.e., Class of 2021 and alumni)
- Have not earned a doctoral degree by the time of application
When is the application deadline?
There is a two-part deadline for the Fulbright:
- The Haverford campus deadline is Tuesday, September 8, 2020.
- The Fulbright program deadline is Tuesday, October 13, 2020.
Overview of Fulbright Program, Award Types, and Application Process
This video provides a general overview of the Fulbright program, the different award types, the components of the application, and what the application process will look like for this year.
Fulbright Info Session Transcript
Hello everyone. My name is Jason Chan, the Fellowship and Career Advisor at CCPA. Welcome to the Fulbright information video for the 2021-2022 award cycle.
In this session, I’ll be providing a general overview of the Fulbright program, the different Fulbright award types, the components of the application, and what the application process will look like for this year.
I want to first begin by sharing some of Haverford’s success with the Fulbright program. As some of you may have heard, Haverford was recently named a Fulbright Top Producing Institution for the 5th year in a row. Within these last five years, 24 Haverford students and alumni have received a Fulbright grant, representing 30% of all Haverford students and alumni who applied. This is a pretty high acceptance rate given how competitive the Fulbright can be, so we have a good track record as an institution and a strong network of alumni who can be potential resources for you as you think about and apply to the Fulbright program.
Throughout this presentation, I’ll be using a mix of slides from the Fulbright program and ones that I’ve created to provide more detail on specific topics.
Some quick background on the mission and history of the Fulbright program. The program was created by Congress after WWII, so about 75 years ago, as a way of fostering mutual understanding between nations, advancing knowledge across communities, and improving lives around the world. This cross-cultural exchange component is both historical and central to the Fulbright program so it’s important to keep that in mind as you consider whether the Fulbright is a good fit for you.
In terms of eligibility for a Fulbright student grant, generally, graduating seniors, recent grads, graduate students, and early career professionals who are U.S. citizens and have not yet received a doctoral degree at the time they apply are eligible for a Fulbright. So even if you decide not to apply this fall for the 2021-2022 award year, you may still be eligible to apply in the future years, so that’s something to keep in mind.
It’s important to note that as a state program, Fulbright has a goal of representing as best it can the diversity of the U.S. to the world. As such, there is a concerted effort to recruit and select recipients that reflect the range of backgrounds and identities among the U.S. population. So these are all factors that are considered in the evaluation process at the screening committees for Fulbright.
Fulbright operates in over 140 countries around the world, with over 2000 awards granted each year. So chances are if there’s a country that you’re particularly interested in, there is a Fulbright opportunity available. There are several types of Fulbright awards, and so one of the first steps in applying for a Fulbright is deciding which award type suits you best, so I’m going to go through these different award types.
The first award is the Open Study/Research award, of which there are two kinds. So Fulbright considers these one type of award but they’re actually fairly different. One is a research award, which allows you to conduct a self-designed independent research or creative arts project. The other is an open study award, which allows you to pursue coursework as a either a non-degree-seeking student or a graduate student enrolled at an institution in the host country.
The other type of award is the English Teaching Assistantship award, or ETA for short. This award allows you to teach English and U.S. culture to students ranging from kindergarten through college age, in either schools or education centers.
Regardless of which award you have, there is a cultural exchange component in which you will be engaging with the local community through activities that you design or seek out on your own. This could be performing volunteer work, joining local clubs, or organizing meetups centered on shared interests or hobbies.
What does a Fulbright award offer, so what are the benefits? During the Fulbright experience, it will cover your travel to and from the host country, a monthly living stipend, health coverage, and a range of other benefits that will depend on your specific grant and the specific country that you’re in. After you complete your Fulbright, you have access to a network of Fulbright alumni and other benefits. And so being part of the Fulbright community is considered a lifelong benefit.
Now we’ll talk a bit about the application. There are many components to a Fulbright application – personal data, short responses, there are a set of essays, a number of letters and references that you need to gather, transcript, as well as supplementary materials depending on the specific grant you’re applying for. Today, I’m going to focus on the essays and the letters of affiliation specifically, as those are the ones that will likely require the most time to put together and produce.
The first of two essays you’ll write is the statement of grant purpose. This is where you’ll describe your research project, purpose for graduate study, or interest in teaching English. You’ll want to share relevant background, skills, and experiences and make a compelling case for why a Fulbright is best suited for your academic or career goals. There should also be a convincing rationale for the country you have chosen and a clear connection between your interest in the Fulbright and the program’s stated mission of cultural exchange and goodwill.
The second essay is a personal statement. This is where you will introduce yourself to the reviewers on a more personal level, and provide insight into your background and experiences and how those connect to your proposed Fulbright and future goals. Reviewers should have a clear sense of why you are applying for a Fulbright and how a Fulbright experience would be a strong fit for you as a person.
For those applying to research and study awards, you will also need to secure a letter of affiliation from someone in your host country. This someone who can vouch for the feasibility of your proposed research or course of study and also confirm that the country you’ve chosen is well suited to do the work you’re proposing. For research projects, this is also someone who is willing to advise or mentor you on your research study. Because you seek this person out on your own, it’s important to start outreach early in the process.
The timeline for the Fulbright application process spans about a year. Now that the award cycle has officially begun and the application is open, these next five months between now and September are all about researching countries and awards, deciding which grant you want to apply to, and preparing your application materials. You’ll notice there are two deadlines – a Haverford campus deadline in early September and the Fulbright national deadline in mid-October – and I’ll talk about why this is in the next slide.
After your application is submitted in October, it is screened here by a U.S. committee during the fall who will nominate a group semi-finalists that then move on to the host country’s review process. Each country then, in the second round of review, will select those who will receive the Fulbright awards, and that takes place in the spring.
As I mentioned in the previous slide, there are two Fulbright deadlines: a campus deadline and the official deadline. The campus deadline is right after fall semester begins, which means the bulk of the work in preparing application materials takes place now and throughout the summer. In the next couple months, you’ll want to identify the country and award type you’re applying to and begin drafting your essays. The summer will be writing and revising your essays, and securing your letters of affiliation as well as your letters of recommendation. Throughout this time, I will be available to advise you and provide feedback on your statements so I encourage you to stay in touch throughout the summer.
By the campus deadline, which this year is September 8, all of your materials including your letters of rec, must be submitted online through the Fulbright portal. The reason for this earlier deadline is because between this deadline and the official Fulbright deadline, there is a campus interview with a committee of faculty and staff.
This interview is designed to do 3 things: 1) to help the committee to get to know you and your application better, 2) to help the committee prepare a strong evaluation form that will become part of the application that you submit to Fulbright, and 3) for the committee to provide you feedback for strengthening your written materials. And so you’ll then have time to revise your application before the official Fulbright deadline, which this year is October 13.
As you do more research and exploration of the Fulbright program to see if it’s a good fit for you and as you apply to the program itself, also keep in mind that the Fulbright website has a wealth of information and resources. This includes live and recorded webinars, informational videos, and social media channels – all designed to guide you throughout the process.
You can also, of course, contact me via email or schedule a meeting with me via Handshake and I’d be happy to chat with you, again about identifying countries, identifying award types, reviewing drafts of your essays, as well as thinking about potential recommenders or anything else that would strengthen the application that you put together for the Fulbright. So please be in touch and I look forward to working with you!
Advice from Haverford and Fulbright Alumni
Hear from Haverford alumni who have received Fulbright grants! Check out the following video/audio recordings and transcripts of breakout sessions, from a virtual Fulbright information session:
Research awards allow you to propose and conduct an independent research project under the guidance of a research supervisor in your host country.
Research Award Video Transcript
Seanna: I guess we can each start off with answering one of the questions that was on the previous slides. Why did we choose to do a Fulbright? Do either of you want to start in particular?
Gabriel: I can start. I chose to do a Fulbright in part because I didn’t have a chance to study abroad while I was at Haverford. I wanted a chance to live and work abroad, as you heard ad nauseum in the video that we watched. I was also doing scientific research and there was a lab – the lab I ended up working in – that was doing work that was very close to what I thought I wanted to do, so I thought it was a really good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone to get that study abroad experience and also to explore my personal interests further.
Justin: Yeah, cool, I can go. For me, I also didn’t go abroad during my time at Haverford so that was a big part of it. It was in a way the study abroad I never had. I also was planning to go to grad school after I finished Haverford. I was feeling pretty burnt out after four years at Haverford so I thought it was also good to do something different before going back to school, for me.
Seanna: Unlike Gabe and Justin, I did go abroad. I went abroad in Barbados and although I knew I was going to really get my taste of studying abroad from doing a semester, I left wanting more and I essentially decided – because that was the spring before the fall that you apply for Fulbright, according to Haverford’s guidelines or most guidelines – and I just wanted to go back. So my study abroad experience really informed my decision to do a Fulbright. Also, similar to Justin, I knew I wanted a gap year in between Haverford and starting grad school, which worked out perfectly because it allowed me to get out of that burnt out feeling while doing something that I loved, particularly because I did research on something that I love. So yeah, a stepping stone while allowing room to breathe, if that makes sense.
Gabriel: I guess we can jump in with the second question, which if my notes are correct, is what the experience was like and how it contributed to our personal and professional development. I’m going to be brief about this. If anyone has questions about any of what I’m saying, feel free to ask after this.
Generally my experience was very positive. Again, I was in Sweden. I found that the people there were extremely welcoming. I think life there is quite similar to life in Seattle where I grew up, so there wasn’t a ton of culture shock for me. And I actually already over the course of my undergrad research had spent time in this lab, so that too, there was a feeling of continuation there. So my experience was really positive. I definitely made friends there, that one week after leaving have stayed in touch with, and hopefully that will continue.
My experience in terms of professional development, like Justin and Seanna, I went into my Fulbright year thinking that I wanted to go to grad school afterwards. I was thinking of taking two gap years. That’s still persisted, I’m still planning to to to grad school, but I think that having the year of research really gave me that clarity about not only what I wanted to study, but also what I valued in research environments. It gave me a perspective that, for its merits, Haverford couldn’t give as a small liberal arts college compared to a large research university, which is pertinent for science. It’s just a very different atmosphere. So I definitely think Fulbright contributed to giving me greater clarity on what I want my next steps to be in life. So yeah, again, feel free to ask questions later if you want me to expand on any of that.
Justin: I also definitely had a positive experience. I was living in a smaller city, Heidelberg, in Germany, which also wasn’t terribly different from, in general, where I lived in the U.S. But I did enjoy living abroad and that was just something that I hadn’t done before, so that’s something I took away from that. It was definitely lonely at times because I wasn’t in a huge lab. Overall, I’m really glad I did it and took a lot from it. I did end up meeting people through work and other Fulbright students as well, which is something I didn’t really think about going into it but it ended up being a big part of it. At least for my program, other Fulbright students in my city was a nice resource and friends to hang out with and stuff.
On the professional side, it was definitely useful for me. I’m still planning on going to grad school. I didn’t have a connection to this lab or group previously, but I just asked one of my professors at Haverford if they knew of anyone in Germany and he just gave me a list and I just cold-emailed a couple of people. This person responded and was really nice. So it was useful for me to build more connections in the academic world and internationally as well, which is pretty cool, as well as just getting more experience doing research. I learned a lot. I think it also helped me narrow down my interest a little bit before I go to grad school, because I think after [Haverford] I didn’t really know – I sort of knew I wanted to do astronomy but I didn’t know much beyond that.
I think one more thing I’ll mention is that, for me, I think I wanted to go to Germany specifically because I have a lot of family there. Half my family is German, so that was really interesting too, to explore that side of my family and my heritage that I hadn’t really thought about before. So it was cool.
Seanna: I want to go into academia, I want to teach Caribbean literature, so it was really helpful to sit in on classrooms as well as work with professors in Caribbean literature. I was also able to help lead a Caribbean sci-fi class for the first time at the main university. That was really helpful for me professionally because I’m going to be starting a PhD program in the fall, and I know I’m going to be teaching at some point so definitely got a lot of skills from helping run that class. It gave me a lot of understanding of certain writers and themes and theories to bring into my experiences at graduate school, which I’m really excited to start. There’s so much I can say but that’s what I would say now for personal and professional development.
Gabriel: What advice I have for you as you go into the application process. I think the biggest thing is – and I’m sure Justin and Seanna can back me up on this – the earlier you start, the more drafts you get of all of your essays, the better they’re going to end up and the best chance you give yourself to get a Fulbright. And so, just doing the research now, even if you don’t want to start writing your drafts now, is probably just the biggest thing
The other thing I would say for people who think you want to apply for Fulbright but aren’t set on a country or there isn’t a specific reason drawing you to one place or another, on the Fulbright website there are statistics for how many positions there are and how many people apply to them, for the last 2-3 years. That’s worth looking at because there’s some countries and some programs with a 5% admit rate and some with a 25% admit rate. If you’re super set on going to some country, apply to that country but if you’re more looking for the experience, there’s ways of giving yourself the best chance to get that.
Justin: Yeah, I would definitely agree. During the application process – I really don’t like writing about myself and so the personal statement was really difficult for me. But I think starting early definitely helped and sitting down and being willing to write stuff, even if it sounds corny or bad or whaterbe. And it was Phil Bean when we were doing it, just working with him and being willing to just write whatever and put it out there was helpful for me. I would definitely just start early. For me, I talked to my professor – I talked to a couple of professors about people they knew. I think professors are generally well connected so they’re definitely a resource.
Seanna: Definitely all the things Gabe and Justin shared I really want to emphasize. I can share some kind of insider info I got from one of my Fulbright fellows. I don’t know if I’m allowed to share this, but I’m going to. One of her advisors helping her with applying to Fulbright actually served on the committee in New York, which I believe is the first round. He sent her an email essentially breaking down the process and how applicants get a certain rating and comments as to why they got that rating. She kind of knew who I was when she first met me at the orientation because of what my project was, but as she got more comfortable with me, she told me that I got a really high rating among that process because my project was pretty innovative – Caribbean sci-fi is not that studied and also because I had a lot of potential affiliates. So I proposed to work with professors at the University of West Indies, I proposed to work with a local sci-fi writer, I proposed to work with some folks in the archives. So even though this is not at all a requirement, I just recommend reaching out to as many folks as you can.
I know around April and May I was emailing everyone that I could to see if they were interested in my project, and if I was allowed to put their name down if I saw a viable way of working with them. And so one comment I got was that it was great that I had a wide range of affiliates because you never know what happens. There was actually supposed to be a fourth – there were three of us, there was supposed to be a fourth Fulbrighter but he didn’t actually end up coming because his affiliate fell through. I know if that had happened to me, I would have had these other sources of support or other people to turn to. So again, this isn’t a requirement but I just highly recommend reaching out to as many people as you can, whether it’s Fulbright alum, the affiliate you have in mind, asking them who you can be put into connection with, just because it couldn’t hurt just to reach out, so I definitely recommend that.
Gabe: So we have two minutes left before we return to the main group, so I don’t know if any of you have any questions for us either based on what we said or any general questions that you have. If so, have at it.
Question 1: I have a question. When you talk about your future plans in the application, is it okay if you’re somewhat undecided? I have a few ideas but I’m not set on a single goal.
Seanna: I was just going to say it’s totally okay. I put down a few ideas that I had: starting grad school, working at a nonprofit, potentially teaching afterwards. I think it’s totally cool.
Gabriel: You can even make that a strength, if you can find a way for how your Fulbright experience can help you build towards any or all of those goals, and help you decide what you want to do.
Question 2: I was just wondering for those of you that were doing Fulbright this year. Were you sent home and what’s going on now? Are you continuing your research?
Justin: I’m at home. I’ve been home for two weeks now. They told us – I think it’s different country by country, for some countries really required you to go home and if you didn’t then you weren’t going to get paid anymore. For us, they were like, “We really strongly encourage you to go home.” So I’m back and luckily the institute I worked at, it was all remote anyway. So it’s basically like I can do the same work, but I’m just not in Germany anymore, which is unfortunate.
Gabriel: Yeah. We all had to leave. I am continuing my work as best I can. I was doing wet lab research so obviously I couldn’t bring that back to the U.S. with me, but I’m still meeting with the professor I was working under weekly and I’m trying to write up the results that I got over the course of the year.
Seanna: Yeah, I was also forced to leave. Feeling heartbroken about it. I’m going to try to do my best remotely. I’m going to try and plan the next conference there, so I’m going to be doing that. Also just in an era of mourning right now for the Fulbright. But it’s great to be able to pull things away and do work remotely, so yeah, thank you for your question.
Open Study Awards
Open study awards allows you to pursue coursework at a college/university as either a degree-seeking or non-degree-seeking student.
Open Study Video Transcript
Julian: Hi everyone, I’m Julian. I graduated in 2017 from Haverford. I studied philosophy and political science. When I was going into my last year at Haverford, I actually applied to a Fulbright in Hungary. I guess a piece of advice – there’s a lot of reasons sometimes we don’t get what we apply for – maybe don’t apply and in your application write that the government is an authoritarian regime and trampling on human rights. That tends not to be very successful; the application gets sent to the government.
So I didn’t get that grant, but I guess one of the other pieces of advice that comes out of that is to think about what experiences you really want to have and think of the Fulbright as one way to make them happen. Because oftentimes there are other sources of funding or other ways to make opportunities materialize other than just the Fulbright. And it will strengthen your application to say this what I’m passionate about, this is what I want to do, and the Fulbright is one way to fund that.
I ended up spending the year in Hungary anyway, through a different funding source, and then applied for a Fulbright in the UK. The way the UK’s Fulbright grants work – there’s no ETA, I think it’s the same thing in Ireland for self-explanatory reasons – they have these partnership grants, basically, so you apply for a Fulbright grant that’s partnered with different universities and they’re all degree-seeking. The one I applied for was at the University of Kent. I got a sponsor by a professor at the law school there, who I actually connected with through Jill Stauffer, who’s a professor at Haverford.
That’s another piece of advice: definitely reach out to professors at Haverford, they’re kind, they’re generous, they’re generous with their time but also their connections, and a lot of them know professors in other countries. If you’re looking to do an open study award, it really helps to reach out to professors in other countries and have conversations with them. You can tell them about your research interests, your academic interests, personal interests, and try to hopefully get a letter from them. And then, I applied to the University of Kent Law School and then I also applied to the Fulbright.
I had a fantastic year. I really, really loved my Fulbright experience. I was doing research in international law, so the degree was a Masters of Law in international law, but then my substantial research project was related to research I did for the professor as a research assistant, which looked into issues of NGO compliance with UN grants and divergence from the conditions of the grant and lack of UN oversight, My independent research looked at lethal autonomous weapons systems under international humanitarian law.
So I explored many different areas and it was super interesting, but definitely the best part was the people I met through the program. I made really good friends, both in Canterbury, England where I was living, but also through the Fulbright program itself. There were tons of events where everyone doing a Fulbright grant in the UK got together, and they hosted us in London, Southampton, Scotland, and you form these incredible friendships. I’m in graduate school now – I’m in law school in the U.S. and my roommate was a Fulbright scholar who’s now in med school here but he was a Fulbright scholar at London School of Economics in England. So you form these amazing friendships and I think those connections to other people are the most valuable part of the experience.
[The Fulbright] definitely was essential to my professional development. I’m not so interested as much in practicing international law, but it confirmed my interest in the law as a vehicle for change, even if I’ve transitioned to more of a domestic U.S. focus.
Allie: I would echo a lot of what Julian said. I was Class of 2019, I studied political science at Haverford and Spanish at Bryn Mawr. I studied abroad in Cuba my junior year. I loved going to Cuba. It was an amazing experience and I knew going into my senior year that I wanted to go abroad again. Even though I was more interested in U.S. policy, sometimes when you go abroad you learn more about your home country than you do about [where you are] abroad – that was partially my experience in Cuba.
When I was in Cuba, I took a class on Marxist/Leninist philosophy and I realized I haven’t taken any philosophy classes and this is amazing and important and I want to take more classes in philosophy. I spent hours on the Fulbright website looking at all the different schools that Fulbright has partnerships with, and then looking at the different degrees they offered. I found one at University College Dublin that was philosophy and public affairs, so essentially philosophy and political science, which was exactly what I wanted. I also really liked Fubright’s emphasis on community involvement, which I think something all Haverford students love and are good at.
My experience in Ireland was amazing. I just got back 2 weeks ago or so and I’m still doing my class at University College Dublin online. It’s great fun to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to talk about Foucault via Zoom, but I think just like Julian said, the classes were amazing and being in Ireland was amazing, but the really cool part was getting to meet other people, both the connections I made with Irish people but also the connections I made with other Fulbrighters who were there. In Ireland there’s a Fulbright commission, which i think is the same in the UK, and they have events. There are other students like you who are studying but there’s also [Fulbright] Scholars who are academics from the U.S. coming over to institutions in Ireland to do work, and I loved meeting the scholars. I’m still in touch with some of them, they’ve been really good mentors for me. There’s one who’s working on healthcare policy in Ireland who I’m still in touch with.
I also really liked volunteering. I worked with a group that reached out to homeless individuals. The amazing part of that was the other people volunteering. A guy who works at IKEA, a guy who works at BMW, just people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.
In terms of advice, do your research on programs and professors. Get the letter of affiliation, as Julian was saying. I didn’t reach out to my professors, which is maybe something I should have done. When I started looking at the programs, I started looking at the professors who were teaching in them. The professor I ended up reaching out to in Ireland had done a Fulbright herself in Boston and had gotten her master’s in Boston, and so she was really willing to help me out and mentor me. She’s now my advisor for the thesis I’m supposed to write very soon. She’s really lovely. So finding Fulbright alumni who are willing to mentor you is also something that can be really helpful.
Also, have multiple people read your essays. So the school will read your essay – Jason will read your essay a lot of times and the panel will read it, but I took mine to the Writing Center and I took mine to Susanna Gund who works there, and she did a Fulbright herself in Morocco, and she’s wonderful. She gave me some great advice: the night before you submit the application, have someone who doesn’t have a lot of time but who you trust, read it in five minutes. A lot of people will spend a lot of time with your essay, but having someone who will do a really quick review of it is actually incredibly helpful. Also, have a community group or something you’re interested in [in the host country] ready in your essay. So Google a group, meet them, reach out to them, and talk to them, in addition to the letter of affiliation.
Julian: If I could just echo one thing which I forgot to mention, which Allie hit on and I think is super important, is explaining the place you want to be is where you want to be. You don’t just want the money, you just don’t want the Fulbright grant or the degree, but that you want to be in this specific place. So having a specific organization and if you can get them to write a letter – basically what you’re saying is, “I will volunteer with you for a year for free. Would you mind writing me a letter of support?” If you can get that, then you can strengthen the idea that this specific little town in this country you want to go to is the place you want to be for academic reasons, for research reasons, for cultural reasons, for the ability to be involved in the community through this organization. The more you can build up the paper trail of letters of people saying this person would be well-qualified and the paper trail on the other side of people saying we would like this person to come here, and that way you can have this more coherent narrative of, “This specific place is the place I want to be.”
Allie: Do you all have any questions?
Question 1: For this specific kind of Fulbright award, did you stay in one place the whole time? Did you travel outside of that for your research or were you mostly in England and Ireland?
Julian: I didn’t have to travel for my research, but I did end up traveling a lot during my year. Europe is a very small and easy-to-travel place, and there’s a bunch of budget airlines, so I traveled quite a bit with other Fulbright student scholars in the UK. We formed a little travel group and we traveled probably once a month for my whole year I was there, which was amazing and covered by the grant.
I don’t know if every region has this, but the EU has a program called the EU NATO seminar. It’s something you apply for after you’ve gotten [the Fulbright] and it’s a week-long trip, and that was one of the highlights of my year. Basically it was Brussels and Luxembourg, but you go to Brussels and you meet up with two Fulbright Scholars from every country in the EU and you have this big EU-wide Fulbright trip to Brussels and Luxembourg. You learn about the EU, you learn about NATO, but again, like most things with the Fulbright, the best thing was just getting to meet other Fulbright Scholars.
Allie: I also didn’t have to travel but I ended up doing a lot of travel within Ireland when I was there. In addition to the NATO summit, the Fulbright commission in Germany hosts a Berlin conference every spring where Fulbrighters from around Europe go to – I was supposed to go that, but it was canceled because of the coronavirus – and so that’s another cool opportunity. So there’s lots of ways to travel around and travel in Europe.
Julian: As one pitch for a different grant, there’s a specific grant that’s an open study grant that you basically say that the project you’re looking at has a cross-border EU focus and you pick multiple EU countries and you spend a few months in each of them. So that’s an opportunity if the type of research you’re interested in doing requires you to be living in a couple different places.
Question 2: You were saying for the community groups, they can write letters attached to your application that endorse you?
Julian: In my experience, I had previously been working in the migration and refugee space. So I reached out to an organization that did integration work with settled refugees and folks who already had status in the area I was going to be in. I was like, “Hey, here’s my experience, I’d really like to work with you all. If I get this grant, I’ll be there for a year, so it’s free stuff. Would you be willing to accomodate and host me, and would there be work for me to do?” I had a phone call with them and talked about it. And after that, I was like, “Thank you so much. Also, as part of the application, would you be willing to write a letter of support?” So first reaching out to the organization to see if it’d even be a good fit and something you’d want to do, and then as a secondary step you can ask them to write a letter of support.
Allie: I’m really interested in social welfare policy and I had been volunteering with a soup kitchen, so I had looked up homeless and food security programs in Dublin and it was really easy to find them. I applied for one program so I actually didn’t have a letter from them, but I had the name of the organization and they’re a really well-established organization in Dublin, and people knew about them. I read online reviews and it was a legitimate organization and I thought it was interesting and so that was the organization I ended up working with. They were lovely and accommodating and I learned a lot.
Julian: Another general recommendation I might make is to reach out to whichever professors you’re friendly with at Haverford. I think when you’re a first and second year at Haverford, professors can be intimidating but their favorite part of the job, for a lot of them I think, is having a personal relationship with students. Even professors you’ve taken one class with, just reach out to them and tell them this is something you’re thinking about applying for, and ask them for advice. First of all, down the line, you’ll have to get three letters of recommendation anyway. So going to them for advice, most of them have counseled many students through this before, so they have a lot of perspective. Like I said, they have international networks of academics, but just having those conversations earlier on – getting the counsel from them but also putting yourself in that mentor-mentee relationship can be really valuable.
Allie: I think that’s really good advice. And also thinking strategically about who is writing your letters of recommendation. I had asked some Spanish professors for recommendations before, so I asked them again, and Dean Bean was like, “Why are you asking your Spanish professors for recommendations, Allie? That’s really stupid when you’re going to Ireland,” So I ended up getting a from a political science professor, a philosophy professor, and then someone who supervised research with me over the summer – which made sense for philosophy, public affairs, and research.
Question 3: In the presentation that Jason just gave, in the Powerpoint it said that if it wasn’t a set partnership then tuition wasn’t covered and I was just confused as to what the difference is. I’ve looked at it a little bit but not a ton.
Allie: I think that depends. So I was on a partnership, which means Fulbright has a tuition waiver with the University College Dublin. I applied to both Fulbright and UCD and I had to get in there. I had a letter of affiliation with a professor there and my letter of acceptance from the program. It’s okay if your letter of acceptance comes after you’ve submitted your initial [Fulbright] application. But one of my friends went to Trinity College Dublin and they didn’t have a tuition waiver or a named program, so she submitted a whole proposal about pursuing this master’s but Trinity doesn’t have a tuition waiver – but Fulbright still ended up paying her tuition and giving her a stipend on top. And then for me, they just gave me a stipend. Does that make sense? I think there are some areas where you will have to use your stipend for your tuition.
Julian: Yeah, that was my experience in the UK was that almost everyone who was at a university either the university waives the tuition, which it would do through an annual partnership, or they have to specifically ask for it. At least the UK Fulbright commission wouldn’t give money for tuition, they only give you money for living expenses.
If you all decide to apply, and you want a second pair or fifth pair of eyes to look over your essays, shoot me an email and let me know. I’m sure you can get it through Jason. Happy to read essays.
Allie: Same here, for sure.
English Teaching Assistantship (ETA)
ETA awards allow you to teach English and U.S. culture to elementary through college-age students in local schools or educational centers.
English Teaching Assistantship Audio Transcript
English Teaching Assistantship (ETA)
Becky: So I guess we’re all supposed to talk about why we did Fulbright and then we’ll have time for questions. Does anyone want to go first?
Miriam: I can start. My name is Miriam Hwang-Carlos, and I did Fulbright in 2017-2018. Why I chose to do Fulbright was because I wanted to try living in South Korea after graduating. Half my family is Korean and I had never been there. And so that was pretty much my goal and Fulbright ended up looking like one of the better ways to do that, to be able to live there for a year. The experience was definitely a mixed bag but I for sure don’t regret it. I learned a ton about myself, I learned my relationship to the world and to my family and it was really interesting.
How has it contributed to my professional development? I was an ETA and I’m currently working at an education nonprofit, and my boss who hired me has told me that one of the reasons that he wanted to hire me was because I was one of the few applicants who had teaching experience. So I know that having the classroom experience was really helpful to get my next job after Fulbright.
And then advice, I would really think about what country you want to be in and make sure you really do want that experience of being in that country for a year.
Meghan: Hi, I’m Meghan. I was in Spain from 2017-2019, so I was there for two years, which was kind of a fluke. They ended up expanding the program and there were opportunities to stay, so I stayed. Spain has a lot of elementary and preschool positions, so a lot of people ended up teaching pretty young age groups, which is not as common from what I’ve heard, but really depends on the country.
I chose Spain because I wanted to practice my Spanish, I liked the age groups they had for kids. I was definitely interested in teaching kids and seeing if that was something that I wanted to pursue. I also wanted to live in Spain after graduating. I think in terms of education experience, I don’t plan to be a teacher but I think it’s been pretty relevant to everything that I’ve been interested in. I’m generally interested in issues of food access and working with kids, and having that experience has been really helpful in pursuing things around childhood nutrition and access in food around that, because a lot of those programs are hands-on and they really care that you’ve had experience with working with kids.
And advice? I think that each country, from what I’ve heard, is drastically different, obviously, and in terms of the program that’s being run there. So I would just really research what you’re interested in and what your goals are to get out of the year.
Becky: I’m Becky. I did my teaching assistantship from 2016 to 2017, so it’s been a few years. I did it in Germany, I was a German minor through Haverford and a psych major, and I was always interested in – I knew I wasn’t going to teach German but I wanted to finish out that education and teaching abroad seemed like a really good way to do it. I was also always really interested in cultural identity as a psych major, and so going to Gemenray was a really good way to explore multicultural from more of a european perspective versus the U.S. persecptive.
So I got the opportunity to go to Germany and it was definitely like Miriam said, kind of a mixed bag. I was there during the 2016 election and it was really hard to be an American abroad but I wouldn’t take it back for anything. I learned so much about myself and also so much about what cultural difference means and looks like on a day to day basis, and making connections across that. It’s really shaped how I’ve gone forward. For me, that means continuing to think about structural inequities in healthcare systems and multicultural identity. I ended up serving in Americorps afterwards and then I did a research coordinator job at NYU, and now I’m going to start a PhD program in the fall in psychology.
I would say it was really hard. I was working with high schoolers, so that was also hard, and also middle schoolers, but it was a really important part of my experience and my development after Haverford, and leaving the bubble was really important for me as well.
And then just advice. You’re kind of on your own; it’s going to be what you make of it. It’s really important, like Meghan and Miriam said, to think about the country you want to be in but also be prepared for it to be totally not like what you think it’s going to be and to be okay with that and to embrace it. Do you guys have questions or anything, like about the process?
Question 1: I have a question. I am looking at teaching as a profession, like as a career path. I was wondering how much active teaching were you doing? Were you making lesson plans? Were you mostly just supporting the teacher as an assistant?
Miriam: In my program, I was fully teaching, which I wasn’t totally expecting before going but I was pretty much on my own with lesson planning and teaching my classes. I was also expecting to be in a middle or high school but was placed in an elementary school. But in the Korean program there is a lot of variation in that, in the level of how much teaching you’re doing. I knew people who were really just assistants and were just helping out occasionally, and people were frustrated with that because they – a couple of them had master’s in education and they wanted to be teachers. And there were other people in the program who really just wanted to help out but were pretty overwhelmed because their situation just randomly was a lot of teaching. So it’s pretty random in my experience.
Meghan: It definitely felt kind of random. I think it really depended on the teacher I was working with. I worked with a couple different teachers both years and it was kind of what they wanted. As the year went on, I could decide whether I wanted to step up a little more or step back. But it’s really based on your placement and within the same city people are teaching a wide range.
Becky: I was hardly teaching on my own at all. I was in a bilingual school already. It was already a bilingual English school, so there was a lot of English teachers and they all had their own ways of doing things. I did a lot of presentations about culture; I did a Hanukkah lesson, I did an election lesson, so that was good, but I could imagine for someone who was more interested in being a teacher that it would be not exactly what you would want.
And that did remind me also that you don’t have a lot of control over where you get placed. I don’t know about Spain or South Korea, but in Germany, you could be anywhere in the country. I was in a city called Essen, which is in west Germany, which is an industrial town. There’s not a lot; it’s not Berlin, it’s not Munich. I had no choice. So that’s something important to think about as you’re going into it as well.
Question 2: This is Amy from the career office. You all talked about the countries that you picked but can you talk about that a little more. Can you talk a little bit more about how you chose that – how that came out in the application and how you made the case for it?
Meghan: I had not been to Spain previously, but I had gone abroad. I had studied Spanish in college and then gone abroad to another Spanish-speaking country, so I talked about the language being a big part of why I wanted to be there. Also, from my research – it could’ve changed – Spain was one of the few places that had a lot of younger classes, like preschool and elementary school classes, and those were the age groups that I had experience with in the past and those were the age groups I was interested in working with. So those were my two previous connections that I was building upon.
Miriam: As I said, I picked the country before picking Fulbright. This Fulbright was the way to get me there. I also spoke a lot about wanting to learn the language. I spoke some Korean through my family but then had started taking lessons at UPenn my senior year at Haverford so I think that perhaps helped in showing that I was serious in my commitment to the language and country.
Becky: Right, and for certain countries there are different language requirements, in my memory. So for Germany, you had to demonstrate some level of competence with the language. It became clear there were people with varying levels when I got there, but I think they were looking for people that could demonstrate some language capability. For a Spanish-speaking country, absolutely, you’ll want to have those language capability. But if you’re going to Hungary or you want to go to Ukraine, they’re not going to ask or expect that of you in the same way. So it’s even more important to make your case that this is the country you want to be in and why. For some of us it was a cultural connection, for others it was a language connection. I studied abroad in Germany, I’ve taken German from a young age randomly, and so it was relatively easy to make that case. And obviously there aren’t a lot of German-speaking countries in the world.
Question 3: Are some countries easier to get into the programs for? And you only apply for one country, right?
Miriam: Yes, to both. I don’t know off the top of my mind which ones are easier than others or where to find that, but I’ve heard anecdotally that some are much easier than others.
Amy: Some countries take a lot more, like a lot of Fulbrighters, and I will say that the Fulbright website has a lot of information. When you look at the countries there’ll be information but also they have it listed by countries how many they’re hiring.
Becky: Germany has 120 or something. It’s a really big amount, and Spain also has a lot.
Miriam: Korea, also.
Becky: Some countries, though, will have like 8 in the whole country. It just depends on where you are and imagine while those countries have a lot less applications, they’re also much harder to get into. So it’s kind of a give and take.
Meghan: I remember the advice being to choose a country that you’re really interested in going to rather than focusing on the statistics of it, just because the countries that are supposedly easier to get into, there’s like three people going there and they just have a lower number of applicants. Are people interested in specific places or still figuring that out/
Question 4: I don’t really know what countries have Fulbright programs but I’m interested in South America.
Becky: There’s a lot. There’s a lot of countries. If you look at the website, you’ll be able to see there’s a huge list. Certain countries don’t but you would maybe expect. I’m pretty sure Japan doesn’t have Fulbright because they have the JET program. So it’s important to lok. But there are so many countries that do it.
Is there anything that would be helpful for us to talk about? Like the process of applying, what that was like? Or unexpected things?
Question 5: I think I heard from one of my friends who was doing Fulbright like this year, that there’s a limit on how much time you can spend outside of the country? Is that for all countries? And also how much free time – did you feel like you were always busy and like working weekends or do you have some free time to explore?
Becky: So free.
Meghan: So free.
Becky: So free. I don’t know about you guys, but in Germany we were only allowed to work 14 hours a week. Yeah. So I was, like, so free. And we were supposed to do an activity, and I did – I worked with the drama department or whatever and had some other stuff going on, but it was like, you got used to taking really long walks.
Miriam: I was working definitely over 40 hours a week, and towards the second half of the grant year, I started having free time. But the first half it was my first time teaching, I would spend – my first couple months teaching, all my free time was lesson planning, just because it was my first time teaching. After I figured out how to manage my time better, then I was able to go on weekend trips and stuff.. We were limited with how much time we could spend – I think every program is a bit different, which is true of most aspects of the program – but for Korea, we were limited in how much time during the year we could spend in the U.S., but then during our winter school break, we were allowed to travel for that whole time, outside the U.S.
Meghan: I think for Spain it was 20 days outside of the country, they tried to limit you. And most people were working about 16 to 20 hours a week and then doing an extra project, that really varies depending on the school and your schedule. But they tell you that you can go in and say that’s your mlimi because that’s part of the program agreement with the school. So at least in my experience, there was a lot of free time.
Becky: Yeah, I had a lot of free time.
Miriam: Can I also add that the living stipend is very different from country to country. So Korea has more hours but i think i was paid much more than other countries.
Becky: Germany’s is very low.
Miriam: Korea was something like $1300 USD a month, and then we were on homestay so we got free housing and food.
Becky: That’s so interesting. Germany was 800 Euros a month, and no free housing. And so you had to figure that out. I don’t know about Spain. There’s two sides- Jason kind of said that. There’s the U.S. side and then there’s the country side. And so Germany’s is the educational department of Germany ran it, but they had British English teaching assistants, and Spanish teaching assistants, and Italian teaching assistants – all from different programs but all through, on the German side, the same organization. So some of those people would get extra money from their home country, but the U.S. didn’t do that, which is a bummer. But it was livable, because the standard of living or the cost of living was lower, at least where I was. But if you were in Berlin, then that sucked because you didn’t get any more money.
Question 6: Can you quickly talk about the project? Because I know on the application you need to talk about a project that you need to do, in addition. How did that work out?
Becky: There’s no oversight. Not on my side; I don’t know about you guys.
Miriam: Concur. They don’t actually want you to do it. I was actually told in the application that they want you to talk about a school-based project because they don’t actually want you to do it.
Meghan: They like check-in in the beginning, but it’s pretty much like if you want to do it, you do it. And I would highly recommend it, because it’s a great way to fill out your experience, especially if you’re not – working 40 hours would be a different experience – but if you have a lot of free time. But depending on the place you’re at, it can be hard to get connected with organizations, so making sure it’s manageable and achievable. And it’s going to change when you get there.
Question 7: I have a quick question before we leave in a minute. Basically on logistics, I was wondering – including the Haverford interview there is, and whether they have to be in person. And I was also wondering if the stipend is reasonable to live off of?
Miriam: So I think the Haverford interview is the only interview.
Becky: Yeah, there’s no other interview.
Question 8: And is it mandatory in person?
Becky: It was for us because we were all on campus, but I imagine they would let you do it over the internet.
Amy: I would just correct – it would depend on the country if there’s an interview. A lot of countries don’t, but it would depend on the country.
Miriam: And the Korea stipend was super livable. Most people were able to travel or save money or start paying off student loans.
Becky: Germany’s was like almost not livable, but you figure it out.
Meghan: Spain was pretty livable, but not savings.
The Fulbright website is your main source for all information. Bookmark and read through it to familiarize yourself with countries, award types, the program components, and the application process.
Also consider participating in upcoming webinars for prospective applicants. Register through the following links:
- Getting Started – Selecting Award Type (April 13th)
- Introduction to Study/Research Awards (April 15th)
- Introduction to English Teaching Assistant Awards (April 17th)
- Introduction to Graduate Degree Enrollment Awards (April 20th)
- Introduction to Arts Awards (April 21st)
Recordings of past webinars as well as tutorials and informational videos are also available. The statistics of previous applications and awards by country might also be a useful reference as you narrow down potential grants you’d like to apply to.