Denison continues to be a top Fulbright-producing institution

KATIE KERRIGAN— Denison University has been named as a top Fulbright producing institution. The Fulbright U.S. student program is an exchange program that funds students to do a variety of studies, research or teaching abroad. This program is created as a way to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. Students who are awarded the scholarship are top of their class. They also generally have sufficient proficiency in the native language of the country they will be living in.

The Denison seniors who were awarded the Fulbright scholarship will spend next year around the world studying, teaching and researching. This is an amazing opportunity for students to continue learning and a way to experience new cultures with hands-on experience.

Being a Fulbright scholar is without a doubt an amazing and prestigious opportunity that will excel you in your future employment as well as in the world of academia. But are there any downsides to being an elite Fulbright scholar?

Sarah Curtin, a 2018 Denison Graduate, is currently living and working in Hamburg, Germany because of the Fulbright scholarship she was awarded during her senior year. She received a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany, and they placed her in Hamburg, the second largest city.  She supports English language instruction in a Gymnasium, which is a somewhat elite secondary school for grades 5-12. Working with students ages 10-year-old to 18-year-old, they do anything from grammar games, clarifying things about English in German, workshopping writing or leading literature discussions.

She generally only works twelve hours a week, which means that she usually only works 2 days a week. This gives her a lot of time to explore the city, travel, hang out with friends, tutor students, read, write, and run. Coming from a very busy four years at Denison in which every hour was scheduled with meetings, classes, homework, activities, etc, it was a difficult transition to enter a laid back lifestyle with a lot of free time. She has knows every part of Hamburg and has explored the entire city in the present and in the past, through many history books. She now has time “to wonder and think and question and follow through.” Curtin has made many new friends, some German, some American. She has learned a lot from these friendships and experiences with people during this last year.

She admits that she “expected a much heavier workload but it’s become clear to the [her] that the real labor of this year comes in navigating new cultures, continuously improving [her] German and having to clarify things about America as things are becoming increasingly tense for our country globally.” Although this experience has been challenging and at times isolating, it has been equally, even more so, rewarding.

Curtin shares that “initially, having so much free time and alone time was a huge challenge and I often felt isolated and bored. This changed with time as I felt more comfortable here and knit into a community.” She feels that this year of relative isolation and solitude taught her a lot about life and herself and it has been a life-changing experience.

She admits that she “expected a much heavier workload but it’s become clear to the [her] that the real labor of this year comes in navigating new cultures, continuously improving [her] German and having to clarify things about America as things are becoming increasingly tense for our country globally.” Although this experience has been challenging and at times isolating, it has been equally, even more so, rewarding.

Although the experience has its challenges, as any major life changes do, receiving a Fulbright scholarship is a life-changing experience. Those lucky enough to be awarded one of these scholarships should utilize it to its fullest potential because it can lead you far and wide.

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