Featured Fellow: A. Ebru Akcasu
Applying For And Winning A Fellowship:
A. Ebru Akcasu on a French Government English Teaching Assistantship
FELLOWSHIP I WON AND WHEN: French Government/Ministry of Education ETA, Académie de Bordeaux, 2009-2010.
MY MAJOR/MINOR, AREAS OF ACADEMIC/PROFESSIONAL INTEREST: Master’s in History with an emphasis in Modern Europe; Minor in the Modern World.
LOW POINT IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS: The most grueling part of applying was writing countless drafts of the proposal. Revising and editing every single line of the Personal Statement and the Statement of Purpose is an exhausting yet necessary step of the application process.
HIGH POINT IN THE APPLICATION PROCESS: The most satisfying part of the application process was when everything came together at the end and I got to click on the ‘submit’ button. At that juncture, I knew I had done all I could and the rest was beyond my control. Though it is not ordinarily comforting to lose control, it sometimes entails a sense of freedom.
MISADVENTURE(S) DURING THE FELLOWSHIP: My mom joined me on my trip out to France to help settle me in. Although my ETA was in the Académie de Bordeaux, we decided to land in Paris and take a road-trip to my town, Mont de Marsan. The trip itself was very enjoyable. However, it was past midnight by the time we reached Bordeaux and we still had to drive through the largest man-made forest in Europe. The road was completely empty and dark, we were low on gas, there were no gas stations, and our cell phones did not work. At this moment, I had two thoughts. The first was that we were going to run out of gas, get stuck in the middle of the forest, and have to wait for somebody to drive by—a prospect that seemed unlikely. The second thought was that I was possibly going to be spending the next year of my life in the middle of nowhere, because I saw no signs of life (other than the beautiful pine trees). I was very happy when neither of these fears was realized.
BEST MOMENT DURING THE FELLOWSHIP: I had so many great moments over the course of my time in France that it is very difficult to choose a single experience as the paramount representation of everything my time there meant to me. My time away provided me with experiences that culminated in the satisfying realization that I can go live and work in an environment unfamiliar to me, and among complete strangers who speak a language in which I am not fluent, yet still find happiness. My best moment is therefore not a particular moment I remember, but a facet of my identity that my experiences made me aware of.
ADVICE TO APPLICANTS: Start the application process early! The decision to apply came to me spontaneously, and late. For this reason, I think I experienced much more stress and rush than I would have had I had planned it out from an earlier date. I was lucky to have Dr. Joy Viveros guide me through the various steps, look over numerous drafts, and encourage strict discipline in the little time that I did have. It is best to contact the Fellowships Office as soon as you have the inclination that an experience like this is on your horizon.