Perhaps the moment that best reflects my time in Luxembourg would be the night of my final Lëtz school. For a majority of my time in Luxembourg, my Wednesday night’s were spent within the walls of the monastery of the Brothers of Verbum Spei. Each week, the Brothers would welcome young adults to their home and present a seminar covering topics of philosophy and theology. Following the seminar, they would invite us upstairs to enjoy snacks, home made beers, and fellowship. It was a true community. When the night was ready to be concluded we would gather in their chapel to pray together before returning to our homes. During the closing prayer of my final Lëtz school the magnitude of the last nine months finally hit me. I remember as people left the chapel one by one I remained on the floor with tears in my eyes for the first time in a long while. Yet the tears were not […]
Over these last few months of my Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant, I’ve been enjoying my commute to school, gazing out the window of my train as it zooms past the mountains, the rivers, and the farms of Luxembourg. But I can still remember my apprehension when I first learned that I would be traveling 63 kilometers (about two hours) on the train each way from my host city of Esch-sur-Alzette, in the south, to teach at a wonderful secondary school and an amazing primary school in the small town of Clervaux in the north, an area known for its historical significance as a site of heavy combat in WWII’s Battle of the Bulge. After crunching the numbers, I discovered that I was traveling across approximately three-quarters of the entire country each way. Despite the long distance, over the nine months of the grant, I’ve come to savor these long train rides. The trains have not only transported me from […]
When one thinks of Belgian motifs, a few things typically come to mind: piping hot, double-fried fries; glossy praliné chocolates; and fresh, garlicky mussels straight from the North Sea. Or else, gothic architecture alongside art nouveau homes alongside Flemish stepped gables. But there is one beauty of Belgium that isn’t as well-known, or at least, that I wasn’t expecting: the flora of this country is ever-present and breathtaking. Adventuring with other Belgium ETAs, and some native Belgians, I have frequented many cities and towns across both Wallonia and Flanders as I learn more of the history and culture of this relatively-new-in-name, deep-rooted country, and many of these adventures happened to center on some form of flowers. Looking back on these experiences throughout the year, I can see so much of Belgium in these delightful (and sometimes very thought-and-concern-provoking) arrangements of plants, stemming from my first days upon arrival. The uniqueness and beauty of these blossoms reminds me a lot of […]
In January 2022, I had one full semester as a Gannon University FLTA under my belt. I was slowly but surely getting used to life in Erie, Pennsylvania. Since my arrival mid-August, I had delighted myself in the full seasons this part of the United States has to offer. Erie’s cold and snowy winter filled me up with energy, and I felt ready to spend another semester sharing my language and culture with the students of the Gannon community. I was also happily noticing signs of my acclimatization to the US and local cultures. My small talk skills were improving (having a small conversation with a coffee shop barista was no longer a struggle!). I had become an expert at finding local vegetarian spots downtown. I had been to the Presqu’Ile in the early hours of the morning and had proudly collected my first Erie beach glass. I had even turned two pieces of beach glass into earrings! The beginning […]
Tucked away in Flanders, Ghent is an interesting mix of old and new: known for its Medieval architecture and famous historical skyline, the city is also very much alive and equally known for its vibrant student culture, music, and art scene. There’s something for everyone in this hidden gem of a European travel destination. You can take a kayak down one of the canals, enjoy a drink on a café terrasse, stroll along the banks of the Leie river, and check out the city’s formidable Gravensteen castle. The view from the Belfry, topped with a golden dragon affectionately nicknamed Roland, offers a beautiful vista which includes the city’s cathedrals. If you’re a fan of Medieval art, the Ghent altarpiece in St. Bavo’s cathedral is a must-see with a mysterious past (a significant story lurks behind the unsolved case of a missing panel.) If you’re a fan of spontaneous street art, take a quick look at Graffitistraat or sign up for […]
Contrary to many international students that I have met in the previous years, going to study in the U.S. was never something that I was consciously searching for. I have always had often negative perspectives and prejudices regarding the U.S. as a country and culture. Nevertheless, 2 years ago, when I have been presented with the opportunity to enroll in a master’s program with the University of Arkansas as a partner, I have decided that it would be a great chance to enhance my experiences, skills, and knowledge.
We left for New York City in January 2021. The world was in turmoil. The coronavirus was still wreaking havoc across the globe, and a few days before our departure, an angry mob had stormed the US Capitol. Due to a US entry ban for EU citizens, our paperwork had not been approved until the very last minute. Moving across the ocean seemed more daunting than ever. And so, finally being able to set foot on American soil, not as a tourist but as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar, almost felt surreal.
After defending my Ph.D. in Autumn 2019, I departed to Fayetteville, AR, to start my joint Fulbright and BAEF postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Biological Sciences of the University of Arkansas. In this blog post, I share my experience as a Fulbright fellow in Arkansas, both before and during an unfolding pandemic.
One of the most unexpected and rewarding parts of the last several months has been my work with a newly formed Model United Nations delegation. BelgaMUN, as the fledging delegation has come to be called, is the first delegation to unite bachelor’s and master’s students from Flemish- and French-speaking universities across Belgium, including some from my placement, l’Université Saint-Louis in Brussels. Together we attended the London International Model United Nations Conference in February 2022. The students who participated in BelgaMUN did so as incredibly hard-working volunteers. They participated not for class credit or degree requirements, but for their belief in the work of the UN, for their belief in the value of model UN experiences, and for their belief in the concept of a united Belgian delegation of students, regardless of their mother tongue or university affiliation. I met these students for the first time in September when they arrived from cities and towns all over the country at the […]
I was walking the streets of Deadwood, a town in South Dakota, when a window display stopped me in my tracks. “The only good journalist is a dead one,” a graphic T-shirt for sale read. Accompanying the text was a silhouette of a person, hanging in a noose under a lone tree. Surely, with a history of racial lynching and a present-day mental health crisis, such images (being sold for profit, nonetheless) would appall anyone? I had been in the country for less than 48 hours, as a journalist on a Fulbright scholarship at the University of Missouri, and the provocative messages hit home hard. None of the other passersby batted an eye.