Home > Fulbright > Fulbright advice (Part II)

Fulbright advice (Part II)


Ok, so this is the second part of my Fulbright advice (if you missed it, Part I is here).

6. Know your audience

If you want the panel/reviewers to want to give you the award, you need your application to be memorable. Vague and uninformed proposals stand a lower chance of being selected, so it’s particularly important to make sure that your project is clear and understandable to people outside your field. This means avoiding jargon, specialist terms, and technical vocabulary. This is one easy way of alienating the very people you want to impress.

7. Why the USA?

You also need to make a strong case for ‘why do you need to go to the States?’. Saying that you want to work on your tan in the Arizona desert is unlikely to garner support, so be clear on who you want to work with and why. What will the benefits be to you and your career if you go to the States as opposed to anywhere else? And what do you hope to bring back to the UK? The Fulbright is an exchange programme, so it’s important to flag up how the UK will benefit from this exchange.

8. Leading from the front

The Fulbright is also about developing the leaders of the future, people who will move fields forward, who will inspire and help people. As such, Fulbrighters  are generally excellent ambassadors, not only for their country, but for the Fulbright Commission as well. People who are interested in the world around them, who are curious about new cultures and excited about meeting new people have the kinds of qualities the Fulbright represents. Your application and the interview are both avenues where you can showcase these qualities to the reviewing panel, so don’t be backwards in going forwards on the kinds of things you’ve achieved. Additionally, even once your Fulbright year is done, it’s a lifetime commitment of representing the Fulbright ethos. Once a Fulbrighter, always a Fulbrighter!

9. The interpersonal stuff

The Fulbright is a commitment. It took me almost two years from start to finish, and for me, having support from friends and family was really important in getting through the process. But additionally, if you’re in a relationship, moving abroad for anywhere between three months to three years is a big ask. Unless you’re happy to spend some of that time apart (since if you travel on the visa waiver program, visits to the US can only be a maximum of 90 days), it’s important to make sure your significant other is on board. If you’re married, you have a better deal in that Fulbright will sponsor J2 visas for dependents (for your spouse and kids), but if you’re in a relationship and not married, things get a bit more complicated, since unmarried partners can’t be sponsored for J2 visas. In this situation, B2 visas for cohabiting partners are usually the solution, although you’re always advised to seek independent visa advice on this (don’t phone the US embassy though, they’re generally not able to advise on these kinds of things). Seriously, I could write a whole blog post just about visas…

10. Do it

The process is long, arduous, and difficult, and even if you get awarded it, there are another bunch of hoops that need to be cleared (visas, medical, more paperwork). Saying that though, it is probably one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done (or rather, am doing) and I wouldn’t change anything. I have met some incredibly interesting people, I get to experience a whole different culture, and I get to bring all of these experiences back with me and share them with friends, family, and colleagues in the UK. I’m a big believer in cultural exchange, and I think it’s one of the most powerful ways we can get to appreciate each others’ points of view and see where other people are coming from. The Fulbright is a wonderful opportunity, so go for it!

The Social Linguist

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