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May 11, 2020

Once a Fulbrighter, Always a Fulbrighter: Advice on your Fulbright Application and Journey

Lamia shares her experience applying for the Fulbright Pre-Doctoral Award along with valuable advice for interested candidates. She is a Jordanian Fulbrighter (2019-2020 Cohort) who is currently studying TESOL at Murray State University.

I am almost at the end of my Fulbright journey. I have been in the United States since August 2018, when I arrived to pursue a graduate degree as a Fulbright student in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) at Murray State University. During this journey, my knowledge and experiences about the American culture, academic life, and language variations have expanded.

The unique thing about this journey is its diversity. I have had the opportunity to learn about many different cultures beyond the American perspective, such as Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, and Vietnamese cultures. I have found some commonalities, and I have had the opportunity to discuss with colleagues and friends how the different aspects of culture make each nation unique and special. I have also been able to introduce my country, Jordan, and my Arabic culture to my host community, through discussions, sharing traditional clothing costumes and food on my campus.

I first heard about the Fulbright program through a seminar Amman, Jordan in January 2013. After that, I dreamt of becoming a Fulbrighter and of achieving my dream of studying abroad in the United States to pursue my master’s degree in TESOL. In 2015, I started seriously working on my application. I visited the Fulbright office in Amman to get more information and consulted with them about the best way to start preparing for the GRE and TOEFL. Later, I took a GRE course to prepare for the test and searched for many helpful resources that could help me achieve the required scores in TOEFL. The journey was not without challenges. It was only on my third attempt that I was able to secure the scores I needed. I would advise students who start their applications to allow enough time to adequately prepare for the standardized tests.

For recommendation letters, I contacted people with whom I worked on different projects. This was very helpful because they had supervised me on different educational projects that were directly relevant to the degree I intended to apply for. It is important to contact your recommenders very early in the process to allow them enough time to read your CV and to understand your vision.

The most important part of the application is the essay section. The personal statement and the research objective are your opportunity to introduce yourself, your objectives, and your experiences. These essays must be as comprehensive as possible within the word limit and cannot contain any kind of plagiarism.

Once you are invited to the interview, you will have this great feeling of satisfaction. It is also normal to start to worry about what to say in the interview. Personally, I did some rehearsals with my friends. I tried to think about all the potential questions I might encounter and how I would answer them. If there is one question to review before the interview, it is: Why should Fulbright select you for this grant? When I was asked this question, I talked about my experiences, my projects, and my achievements. I expressed to the committee my extreme desire to get this degree.

After being accepted as a finalist, I had to wait another two months to receive my acceptance from universities. I was accepted to Murray State University. I still remember the Tuesday morning when a representative from the Fulbright office called me and said “Congratulations Lamia! You have been selected. We are all happy for you.” I could not find the words to answer her.

I am grateful for this great opportunity which granted me a dream I’ve always wanted to achieve. I am glad that they have had the chance to study in American schools and to be exposed to American culture, which has enriched my own experience. I am grateful for this opportunity, and I’m so proud that I had the chance to represent Jordan as a Fulbrighter which will stay with me once I finish my program and return home. “Once a Fulbrighter, always a Fulbrighter”.

Lamia is a Jordanian Fulbrighter who is studying TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Foreign Language) at Murray State University.

You can find more information about the Fulbright Program, Fulbright Foreign Student Program and the Fulbright Program for the Middle East and North Africa on our websites. For more application tips and to learn more about other Fulbrighters, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and visit our blog.

Note: This blog post was originally posted on the Fulbright MENA page on Medium, you can view the original post HERE.

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