The Start of Something New

Welcome to my blog! Through this blog, I hope to shed some light on my thought process in applying for Fulbright, preparations before departure, and naturally, my experiences themselves while living and teaching in the Czech Republic for ten months. When researching and applying for Fulbright, I relied on blogs like these written by former ETAs to help me better understand the nuances and the complexities of living abroad.

A little background about me: I am a native of the great and majestic city of Houston. I was born and raised here, surrounded by the most diverse communities America has to offer. I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who, like many others, traveled to the United States to offer their children better lives filled with boundless opportunities.

A little background about Fulbright: The Fulbright Program was created in 1946 by Senator William J. Fulbright with the intention of improving intercultural relations between the United States and other countries. It has grown over the years into one of the most widely recognized and prestigious international fellowships. The Fulbright Program offers about 1600 awards to U.S. students and 1200 to U.S. scholars annually. There are two main types of awards: Study/Research and ETA. The English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) Award is for Americans interested in teaching English in foreign schools and with a passion for service. This was the one that really resonated with me, my past experiences, and my future plans.

In college, I always had Fulbright in the back of my mind as I considered future plans. At the time, however, it seemed like more of a pipe dream than a feasible ambition for a biology major. I am forever indebted to the University of Houston’s faculty and staff, especially Dr. Rayder, for showing me that Fulbright is a valuable experience and that those with a STEM background have a unique perspective to offer.

I did not know much about the Czech Republic initially— I had not studied abroad or even gone for a vacation there. But the more I learned about the culture and the people, the more I realized how immersed Czech culture has become in Texas traditions. From kolaches to polka dancing, the Czech Republic had found a way into my life without my ever setting a foot in the country. I wanted to know and learn more about what the modern Czech way of life looks like. Moreover, I knew that my love for soccer would be reflected and understood by all Czechs, no matter what city or town I was placed in.

I am exceptionally excited and grateful to be spending this next year in the Czech Republic. There is an equal measure of fear of the unknown as there is excitement for what is to come, but I have no doubt that it will be one of the most important experiences in my life— learning to live in a country where I do not speak the language, building relationships with students and mentors, gaining an appreciation of diverse perspectives, and traveling far and wide.

Thanks for tagging along for the ride!

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