“The Fulbright Program” is one of the most prestigious and competitive scholarship programs in the world. It is the US cultural exchange program aimed at improving intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy and intercultural competence between people through the exchange of people, knowledge, and skills.
Ana Tankosic, a student and teaching assistant at the English Language and Literature Department at International Burch University, has returned from the exchange and brings us an exciting Fulbright story and experience.
By applying for a Fulbright Scholarship, which included a detailed presentation of academic success, involvement in various projects as well as a research proposal, a motivation letter, and getting the scholarship, Ana Tankosic got the opportunity to conduct research at the university in America.
At the very beginning, Ana says that every experience in life is important in its own way, because it defines us, teaches us something new, shows new perspectives and enriches us as people.
“After months of applications, interviews, exams, and waiting, I was more than happy to hear that I received the Fulbright scholarship and that I was going to spend 9 months in the United States at The Pennsylvania State University. That was only the beginning of my adventurous journey which led me to new countries, cities, people, knowledge, and opportunities.”
Ready to adapt to a new environment, to acquire new knowledge, to begin the extensive research, Ana spent time in a small university town, State College.
“Since I was a Fulbright Visiting Researcher, I spent most of my time writing a research paper in collaboration with my mentor, Prof. Jason Litzenberg. Like any other novice researcher, or person who has just left her country, I was excited and eager to work on new projects, but also to write about the place where I come from with a focus on my mother tongue and its variants.”
The purpose of the Fulbright program is precisely based on how to tell the story of your country, gain knowledge of the world and, on your return, apply what you learned. Ana presented her research at roundtables, organized workshops and attended lectures by some of the best scholars in Applied Linguistics. Special emphasis is given to professor Suresh Canagarajah, whose lectures on World Englishes made a strong impression on her because it managed to change her beliefs and perspectives.
Ana also states that the exchange experience is significant for several reasons: “Lucky for me, I did not spend 9 months only in the classroom and the library. I had the opportunity to go on American picnics, watch baseball games, scream and shout at the scariest rides in amusement parks, visit famous cities such as New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh, travel to some other smaller cities, and try traditional food from various cuisines. Overall, I experienced student life in the United States. I have to say it was one of the best experiences of my life. I am grateful for getting the incredible opportunity to be a part of Penn State and to grow into a person I am today. Most of all, I am grateful for the people I have met and the friends I have made. I realized that the world is a very small place and yet there is so much more to see and so much more to learn. ”
The exchange program is one of the special benefits for Burch University students, as the International Relations Office works daily to increase the number of university partners for various exchange programs. These programs aim to provide students with an exchange experience where, in addition to personal development, they promote their university as well as their country.
The importance of the experience is confirmed by our student, who adds: “I would encourage all students and young graduates to never be scared of the new and to always believe in themselves. As someone who has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from the English Language and Literature Department at Burch University, I would say that the knowledge you get and the experience you gain at the very beginning are the most important foundation for everything that comes next. Opportunities are everywhere, you just need to grab them! ”