In 3 days, my family and I will board a plane heading for Edinburgh. Three months later we will return home, having experienced as much of the UK as we could in that timeframe and I will have completed my Fulbright DA fellowship. Though I acknowledge that it is in my nature to consider the end of something before it even has begun, my head still spins thinking about what had to happen to get to that point and how quickly it will have passed by.
I began planning for my Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching application in the Spring of 2018 with preliminary ideas for my inquiry project. Once I decided on a topic, I waited until summer vacation to begin researching, making professional contacts, and writing the required essays. Establishing connections with the professionals at my preferred host university was crucial for me as it solidified my desire to study at the University of Edinburgh. My contacts there were so eager to help in any way that they could and seemed genuinely interested in my topic and research intentions. I knew right away that I would be entering into a professional learning network that would be effective and welcoming.
I completed my essays ahead of the official opening of the application and, though the wording of the actual application was very different than the sample, it didn’t take long to adapt my original essays to effectively answer each question.
I received an email requesting an interview in March with a video conference scheduled to follow a week later. The interview was very straightforward and included questions regarding my research topic, my level of comfort and autonomy, how I might handle myself in a culture different than my own, and how I might explain political views unique to the US. Though I felt it went fairly well, I was certain I would not be awarded the fellowship at this point. It was nevertheless quite surprising when my award email came in the middle of April and I couldn’t have been happier.
The time since accepting the fellowship until now included a lot of back and forth emails with the kind folks at IREX, months of both trip and school leave preparation, and continued research on my inquiry project. I must have made a hundred to-do lists, each one including the items I did not cross off from the previous list.
All of that brought me to here and now: 4 days before my family and I depart. Our bags are mostly packed, our house and cats are in safe hands, and we are ready to make the most of what is sure to be 3 fun-filled, action-packed months in the UK.