A Week in the Life at Michigan State

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 andPhilosophy of Science at Ghent University. She has an interdisciplinary PhD in Philosophy andLinguistics. In her doctoral research, she applied techniques from computational linguistics to studyterminological 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 themembers 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 acollaborative project. My Host Professor and I would meet on Wednesdays for a […]

Studying Law and Exploring New Cultures in Boston

Kwinten Dewaele was a Belgian 2022-2023 Fulbright Student to Harvard University. Kwinten previously studied law at KU Leuven (2014-2019) specializing in economic and private law. After graduating, he joined the Institute for Contract Law at KU Leuven as a junior researcher and teaching assistant. Kwinten completed an LL.M. at Harvard’s Law School. We sat down with Kwinten to ask him about his time in the United States and how it changed his career plans. Q: “How did you hear about the Fulbright Program? What motivated you to apply, and what do you remember from the selection process?” “I heard about the Fulbright Program from my home university (KU Leuven) where information sessions on how to go and study abroad also include information on the available fellowships. I always knew that I wanted to go to the United States and was happily surprised to find that the Fulbright Program could aid me make this dream come true. I remember being very […]

Living with a Host Family Throughout my Fulbright Grant Term in Belgium

I was initially hesitant to fit my small number of belongings to the cracks and crevices of an already occupied and overflowing Belgian home. Nine months ago, I would have never imagined myself moving in with a host family for my Fulbright year. Growing up as an only child and enjoying the comforts of my own space throughout college, sharing everything except a bedroom with a family of five—or six if we count Yalta, the 15-year-old Schnauzer and Bouvier des Flandres mix—was uncharted territory. But reflecting back on my experiences in Belgium now, I would not change a single thing. Living with a Belgian family throughout the grant period allowed me to immerse deeply into my host country’s culture. The Liénarts and I often shared intimate dinners where my host mother would gossip about the women in her bridge club and I would inquire about the meanings of Belgicisms she placed so effortlessly into her sentences. I once accompanied them […]

Four Seasons at Harvard Law School

One of the many things former Harvardians told me before I embarked on my Master of Laws (LL.M.) at Harvard Law School was that the year would go by very quickly. Of course, they were right. One year at Harvard is indeed short. Yet, as my LL.M. has shown, one can do quite a lot in one year. In this blog post, I provide a snapshot of a year at Harvard Law School, through four seasons.

In Loving Memory of a Room – The Cube at MIT

Looking back on a Fulbright year at MIT, one might write about beautiful New England foliage, vegan poutine fries, boat trips to the east (Provincetown), train trips to the south (New York City), van trips to the north (Acadia), hippie scenes, Boston pubs, progressive Churches, and the very beginning of the American project. Yet, what occupies a special place in my heart in post-Fulbright times is something entirely different: a room at MIT, called ‘The Cube’. The Cube is the beating heart of MIT’s Program in Art, Culture & Technology (ACT), in which I completed my Fulbright project. The Cube consists of a large central floor used for classes, lectures and performances. It’s a space of intellectual exchange. This central floor is surrounded by two levels of individual studios in which ACT students develop their work. The stairs connecting the studios are colored in yellow, green, blue, red and orange, reminiscent of the many rainbow flags one sees so often […]

No miss, your bill has already been taken care of

It was the fifth day of our stay in the United States, and while on a road trip through California my partner and I were enjoying breakfast at a little diner in Visalia. The two regulars seated next to us had just addressed us because they could not figure out which language we were speaking. After a lovely conversation about Belgium (Something to the effect of ‘Yes, we are known for our beers!’, ‘And chocolates, correct.’, ‘We speak three languages’, ‘You’re right, It is a very complicated political system.’), their past in the U.S. Navy and many congratulatory wishes because we were going to spend the year at two prominent universities in the US, we wanted to pay our bill and continue our journey. Yet, it turned out that that was no longer necessary. The two gentlemen had already paid for our breakfast to wish us a warm welcome in the US. “That’s simply how we do things here”, they […]

Autumn is the warmest colour

Reflecting on my year at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, there are so many different academic, cultural, and social practices I could comment on. The friendliness and can-do-attitude of Americans, my love/hate relationship with their food culture or the fact that every state and city offers endlessly unique travelling possibilities. However, the one thing that struck me the most while staying there, was the topic that reigns supreme in everyday boring conversation: the weather. I know, I know. Few subjects can be considered as banal as the weather, yet inexplicably Michigan managed to turn it into one of my most fascinating experiences. While I knew that Michigan winters can be brutally harsh, cold, and snowy, I did not really think much about the other seasons and what they might look and feel like. When I arrived on August 15th, I was completely taken aback by how unbearably hot it was. The heat scorched the buildings and trees until […]

My FLTA experience at Gannon University

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 […]