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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
How can you describe a year at Harvard and express your gratitude to those who contributed to this unreal experience in one post? It’s impossible. But at least I’ll try to encapsulate it in three takeaway messages for future Fulbright students.
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 […]
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.
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.