A Week in the Life at Michigan State

Julie Mennes was a Belgian 2022-2023 Fulbright Visiting Scholar to the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative (TDI)
Center at Michigan State University MSU. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Logic and
Philosophy of Science at Ghent University. She has an interdisciplinary PhD in Philosophy and
Linguistics. In her doctoral research, she applied techniques from computational linguistics to study
terminological ambiguity in cross-disciplinary teams. Her current research is focused on cross-
disciplinary knowledge integration and integrative expertise. We sat down with Julie to ask her about her time in the United States.

Q: “Can you describe a typical day in your life in the USA?”

“Rather than typical days, I had typical weeks. On Monday mornings, I would join the meeting of the
members of the TDI Center where they coordinate, exchange updates and discuss new opportunities.
In the afternoon, I would catch up with members of the broader TDI Community and work on a
collaborative project. My Host Professor and I would meet on Wednesdays for a co-working session
during which we exchange ideas and work on our respective research projects. On Fridays, I would
often attend a work-in-progress session or research colloquium organized by the Department of
Philosophy of MSU. In general, whenever I could, I would work at the university library. With its
coffee bar, comfortable sofas and beautiful view on the gardens of the campus, it offered a perfect
work environment.”

Q: “Has the United States been what you expected? In what ways has life in the USA surprised you, either for its similarities to or differences from your own culture?”

“The university I visited is located in Michigan. Since the local culture is strongly influenced by
immigrants from the Netherlands, it was very recognizable to me. The diet, daily rhythm and social
codes required little adjustment from my side.”

Q: “What misconceptions do you think other Belgians have about the USA? What do you know now about the USA/Americans that you wish everyone knew?”

“I noticed that some friends and family members were surprised by the pictures of local parks and
forests I sent them. They seemed to think that the USA is heavily urbanized/industrialized, and that
green areas are mainly found in national parks. Something I wish every Belgian could experience is
the cheerfulness, kindness, and humor with which Michiganders interact. Even short exchanges with
passersby would make my day.”

Q: “What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying to the Fulbright Program?”

“Be authentically ambitious. Fulbright opens doors, make sure you know what doors are important
to you.”