What is it like to be a Fulbright student in the United States?

USNews.com recently did an article that featured interviews with students who are spending time in the United States of America on the Fulbright program.

The Fulbright academic program is sponsored by the United States of American State Department. Through this initiative, American students can travel abroad to teach, study, or research while in another country. The Fulbright program also offers students from other countries the opportunity to do the same with the home location of the USA.

While there are many surprises facing students studying anywhere on a Fulbright scholarship, USNews.com found that there were really three big surprises that the American host institutions and locations might not have factored in.

1. Classroom types are different all over the world. While some of these differences could be in how participation is graded and what language is spoken within the classroom, attempts need to be made to acknowledge other ways that classrooms might be different. For example, some students might not feel comfortable approaching their instructor, even if their grades are doing poorly.

2. Locations. While the Midwest might be the best place to truly get an accurate understanding of life as an average American, it does not always create easy transitions when students have to find other friends or administrators to drive them to the store. Larger cities tend to create some easier transition periods for students – as even though a system might be confusing, at least there is the possibility of utilizing a city bus, subway, or taxi cab.

3. Cultural differences. Some cultural differences are expected – such as how people dress, act, or behave. What many Americans don’t realize is that people from other countries tend to have a greater understanding of the world than we do. Students in other countries sometimes began their English skills in second grade – and learned more about American pop culture through watching films, following Hollywood stars online, etc. Very rarely do Americans do the same about another country. Sure we might have learned more about England while watching the London olympics – but how much of that was actual facts versus gossip about the global athletes?

It is important for people in any country to assist their foreign visitors – but it is especially important through such programs as the Fulbright scholarship.

If you are curious to read more in detail about the interviews done with some of the newly arrived Fulbright scholars in the United States, I encourage you to check out this link: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2012/04/18/3-surprises-for-international-students-at-us-universities

If you have a desire to learn more about the Fulbright scholar program, I suggest you check with your school to see if you have a Fulbright administrator on campus or travel here: http://fulbright.state.gov/index.html