Fulbright Grants: Where Do I Go?
Before you can start to write a Fulbright grant proposal, you need to ask yourself where you want to go.
Ask yourself some basic questions:
Why do I want to go there? No matter which kind of program you plan to pursue, you will need to make a case for why the country you are proposing is the best place for you to do what you propose to do--are there sources you can only get there? Are there scholars with whom you especially wish to work there? If you are pursuing a degree program or taking classes in something other than languages, is there something about the approach to the discipline that you can best explore in the country you are proposing to visit? The greatest scholar in your field of interest may be in the United States, so think hard about why your study will benefit from being there, not here. For teaching, you will need to explain why teaching in that country is of particular interest to you.
Have I been there before? In general the Fulbright program would prefer that you not have stayed for more than a semester in the place you propose to travel on a Fulbright grant. If you do want to return to a place you have already been, even briefly, you will need to explain in your application why you wish to return, and how the previous trip has prepared you for what you wish to do on your second trip.
Do I have the language skills necessary to carry out this project? The skills you need will vary with the project. If you are applying for a teaching grant,for some, considerable ability is required, for others, none at all. If you are taking classes, considerable ability is necessary. For independent research, the level of fluency necessary will depend on the project--are you observing animals, interviewing people, or learning something that can be taught largely by demonstration? Read the country guidelines carefully to see what level of proficiency they want you to have; if you are not there yet, you will need to explain how you will get there by the time you are expecting to leave, or select another country. For any non-English speaking country, you will need to include a Language Proficiency Form in the application. English-speaking countries do not require the form, but be aware that the odds of getting a grant to any English-speaking country are much lower than non-English speaking countries, because the application pool is much larger.
Am I prepared for the challenge of living there for an academic year or more? This preparation includes language skills and knowledge of your potential host country's history, religion, and culture--including the current political situation and the challenges you may face as an American abroad in a time of war. Are you ready to be a representative American? Are you ready to explain your views in a non-confrontational way, often? Are you ready to adapt yourself to the likely assumptions made about you on the basis of your nationality? Are you ready to adapt your public conduct to local standards of propriety and civility, including those based on gender? If you cannot answer yes to all of these questions, you may not be a good candidate for a grant to the country to which you want to travel--you may get special or different treatment as an American or as a Fulbright scholar, but if your comfort depends on getting such treatment you may find yourself frustrated and unhappy. It will also be helpful to visit the U.S. Department of State's website at http://www.state.gov for travel warnings and other information about potential host countries. Fulbright will not fund you to go to any country on the list of countries carrying travel warnings, so you should check this site regularly until the submission deadline to make sure your selected country has not been added to the list.