In typical Brianna fashion, by chance I emailed Dr. Hawk at the Center for Community-Based Partnerships the day on-campus Fulbright applications were due. The night before former Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Emma Fick and I caught up over coffee, and she strongly encouraged me to apply. The program had been rather off of my radar, but I decided to take the leap of faith and send an email to Dr. Hawk.
Needless to say, I was incredibly behind in the application process and threw myself into the process of selecting a country to apply for. I remember staying up into the wee hours of the mourning pouring over the requirements, expectations, and acceptance rates for countless countries. I believe deciding on a country was in all honesty the hardest part of the application process!
By 3:00 AM in the morning, after a long night made slightly better by numerous cups of tea and First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold album (highly recommend!), I finally selected a country.
Here are some tips:
- Narrow down the number of countries by selecting a particular region or two from the Fulbright website (i.e. East Asia-Pacific, Europe & Eurasia, etc.)
- Make an Excel document to keep track of the following information for each country:
- Type of placement – university, high school, middle school, elementary school, etc.
- Language requirements– Many countries require that you have a certain level of proficiency in the native language. This requirements helped me narrow down my options as I only speak one language at a conversational level.
- Expectations – Some countries require that you also submit an additional project proposal. Others expect you to be teach ACT/SAT prep classes, coach a sports team, etc.
- Your Role as a Teacher – Does the country specify whether you will be responsible for teaching an entire class on your own for the year? This means you’ll likely be responsible for developing curriculum, etc. Or will you be assisting your mentor teacher with speaking exercises and serving as a conversation partner? This is very important to consider, especially if you might be worried about your level of teaching experience. Also see if they specify the number of hours you’ll be working each week.
- Preferred Candidates – You’ll see that some countries will note that preference is given to Bachelor’s and Master’s students enrolled in particular disciplines, such as STEM disciplines and the humanities (such as Poland). Each country is looking for a slightly different applicant.
- Acceptance Rates – It isn’t a bad idea to take a look at your odds and see how much competition you’re likely to have for the position.
- Consider the country’s culture, climate, and way of life. Steps 1 and 2 should help you narrow down your choices quite a bit. Now it’s time to really delve into what makes each country unique. Aspects such as the climate are relatively easy to Google, however you would be surprised how hard it is to get a handle on a country’s culture from online searches alone. Try to read some blog posts from former ETAs or from Americans living abroad in that country to get an idea of what life is like there.
- How far out of your comfort zone are you willing to go? Will I be able to adjust to a certain culture?
And there we have it! A rough guide to thinking through the country selection process. All that’s left is to fill out the application. No big deal, right?
Who knew one cup of a coffee with a friend and former Fulbright ETA could alter my life plans so drastically. I am so glad I decided to venture outside of my comfort zone and plunge headlong into this new adventure! In a little over a week from now I’ll be leaving Dallas and flying to the Czech Republic to begin my year as an ETA.
“Czech” out my next blog post to learn more about where I’ll be living and how I’m preparing for the upcoming year! (I would like to say that I’ll stop making the painfully cheesy “Czech” jokes, but we all know I won’t.)