Sunday, February 8, 2015

Applying for the Fulbright

On Friday January 30, I briefly spoke about my Fulbright experience for the University of Iowa Fulbright Workshop. I've decided to share a few thoughts in this post for anyone who was unable to attend.

My Fulbright Application Process:
 - I first learned about the Fulbright when I was an undergrad. Ever since then, it has been something that I always knew was a possibility. While working on my master's degree in horn performance, I was playing in a horn quartet and we checked out as many horn quartet pieces as we could from the library. That is when I first came across the Frigyes Hidas's horn quartet. I loved it! It was fun and interesting and I was curious to hear more of his music. After a simple search online, I found a recording of Hidas' first Horn Concerto. These pieces sparked my interest in Hidas and Hungarian brass music. For the next few years, I started to research Hidas on my own and found that few sources were available, especially in English. I had already decided to research Hidas when I was applying for doctorate programs. While at Iowa, I began looking at opportunities to travel to Hungary. I looked into the Stanley award and study abroad but I decided to apply for the Fulbright. I first met with Karen Wachsmuth around December 2012. In spring 2013, I started sending emails to find out what kinds of sources and affiliations were available in Hungary. In the summer of 2013, I traveled to Hungary for about 10 days to attend the Franz Liszt Academy Brass Week and to visit libraries in Budapest. It was during this time that I secured my affiliations at the National Széchényi Library and the Budapest Music Center. Leading up to the due date of the application, I met with several other applicants to read and edit our applications. This was incredibly helpful. Karen worked with me to make sure I had all parts of my application completed to the best of my ability. It was really exhausting! After submitting my application, I went through two interviews, one mock and one real. In these interviews, faculty members from Iowa who were former Fulbrighters asked me about my plans for the grant and its feasibility. I was also asked to clarify any parts of my essays which remained unclear. After the interviews, I was able to edit my essays and application before the final submission. Then, I was waiting for a few months to hear an answer. On January 28, I received an email saying that I had been recommended for a Fulbright Grant and that my application was forwarded for final review. I received the big news on March 24 that I had been selected. To say the least, I was emotional. After 4 years of interest in Hidas and over a year of planning and applying, I was selected. The process is long and arduous but it is every bit worth it.

Fields of Study:
The Fulbright is not limited to any specific field. Each of the current Fulbrighters in Hungary has a different area of interest. We are also all at different stages in our career. Some are doing research while others are doing classwork. There are Fulbrights for students, scholars, teachers, and artists.

Community Component:
Part of the Fulbright is engaging the community. It's hard to know how you will be able to engage with a community where you've never been, but you can at least make a guess. I was hoping to be musically involved in Budapest but I didn't know how unrealistic it was until I arrived. Thankfully, the Fulbright Commission has pointed us to several volunteer opportunities. Even though I can't perform as I originally had hoped, I have been able to play my horn and talk about music in other ways.

Tips for applying:
* Start early. You need time to get your affiliations and references plus time to write the essays.
* Contact the commission or embassy for the country you're interested in because they may be able to help you find an affiliation.
* Have others read your application and essays. It is important to be concise and affirmative without too much jargon from your field. After reading dozens of essays in preparation for my application, I would be glad to read yours as well. Just let me know.
* If you are interested at all, try! Applying for the Fulbright is great experience for future applications and grants.

Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email with any questions you may have. The Fulbright is a wonderful opportunity and experience and I encourage you to apply!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this! I am currently working on my application for Fulbright and was feeling overwhelmed, but your description of the application process really helped me put it into perspective (and to feel assured that it's normal to be exhausted, haha!).
    I really appreciate your advice!