When I think back on the nine months that were my English Teaching Assistantship, I am appalled at the speed with which they went by. I think of the lessons I learned, both intentionally and a majority of them accidentally. Big and small. Easy ones and challenging ones. I remember the countless buses and trains. The sprints to catch them and the looks of defeat at missing them (both mine and those I saw as I sat by the window while we pulled off). I remember the language barriers, the feelings of unfamiliarity and the triumph when I understood that the cashier had asked me whether I was paying with cash or card in French. And more lessons. Daily, weekly, monthly lessons. Giving lessons while learning them. Like, lesson one (in case you’re ever in Luxembourg): bring the Öko-Tut! Öko-Tuts are these eco-friendly bags that you purchase at stores across the country and when the time comes to restock your […]
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 […]
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 […]
Absolute silence, the sound of a tranquil morning, was something completely foreign to me. Yet most of my mornings are now like this; filled with a sense of peace and comfort, similar to the feeling one gets from drinking a cup of hot chocolate on a cold night. I may not sleep as often as I would prefer, but I no longer wake up with a sense of immediate urgency, the way I used to in college. It’s hard to imagine that a year ago, my life was consumed by an endless stream of courses, organizational meetings, volunteer activities, and side jobs. I remember free time being scarce with mornings that consisted of repeated rings from my alarm. Starting my day involved checking my emails and trying to set a new record for how fast I could get out the door. So far, it’s 10 minutes. Who needs a lunch break when you can scoff down your sandwich on your […]
Jet-setting off to a new country for a year comes with a certain allure. No one there knows who you are, where you come from, or what you’re interested in. You can be the mysterious new foreigner, and can adapt your persona to easily fit the culture in which you find yourself. Sometimes, however, you move to Luxembourg…
Earlier this month, the Fulbright Commission welcomed representatives from the seven Belgian universities and university colleges that will be hosting a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to its first ever ETA Host Institution Workshop.
As the students file in for their first seminar of the semester, I cannot help but notice how homogenous they appear. They quietly take their seats and proceed to converse with their friends in hushed whispers. Among these mostly white students, I hear mostly Flemish. This is understandable since, as soon as I begin the seminar, we will all be committed to the English language for the next two hours.