Hello, hello! Gosh, it’s been months since my last post! I decided to take a break from blogging for a few reasons – I was burnt out constantly writing and unsure of the direction I wanted to take this blog; I quickly became overwhelmed with school and academics – my thesis became a much bigger beast than I had expected; and I haven’t been cooking as much so I don’t have many new recipes to share!
I was also preoccupied with working out my post-graduation plans – because oh my gosh, I graduate in less than two months!! I cannot believe how fast this semester has flown – I don’t want it to end!! It’s been a wonderful four years and I’m sad to see it ending so soon. However, I’m thrilled that as of last Friday (the 13th, mind you!) – I have a plan for the next year!
About this time last year, I attended a workshop on post-grad fellowships/scholarship opportunities. I knew about Fulbright and know a few people who have done it – but after this workshop, and the prodding of a few professors… I decided to apply. I spent last summer drafting my application – it’s fairly substantial with several essays, letters of recommendation etc. I submitted it in early September, was interviewed a few weeks later and then sat back and waited! Simultaneously, I applied for a similar fellowship through the Luce Foundation. With both applications submitted, I finished the fall semester and continued to wait.
In January, I heard back from both Luce and Fulbright that I had made it to the final round of each fellowship competition. I was thrilled! Luce invited me to New York in February for the finalist interviews and with Fulbright, my application moved on to the last round and I didn’t have to do anything but sit tight. While I was preparing for the Luce interviews, I also had to complete my senior thesis – but I’ll save those details for a later post – but let’s just say, it was a stressful, sleep-deprived couple of weeks!
The Luce interview weekend was unbelievable. I was honored to be there competing for the fellowship among 14 other outstanding candidates. The interviews went very well and I loved the whole weekend. Unfortunately, I found out a week or two later that I didn’t get it – I was disappointed but still grateful for the experience and the work I had to put in to preparing for the interviews. I needed to clearly articulate my career goals and the steps I needed to get there – but that meant I really had to narrow down my career choices and think through what I want to do. It was really helpful to be forced to do that mid-senior year and come out on the other end with stronger ideas for what I want to do.
With Luce off the table and no word from Fulbright yet (which could have been announced sometime between March and June) – I began to switch gears and planned to begin the job-search after spring break. Christy and I jetted off to Miami for a fabulous week – we attended the Clinton Global Initiative University conference the first weekend (see my post about last year’s experience here and my commitment to action here!)and then stayed in Miami for the rest of spring break – I’ll share pictures in another post!
However, on the last day of spring break, when we had just returned home – I received the email I’ve been waiting for, for months! I did it! I received a Fulbright Scholar Award to go to Indonesia next year! The Fulbright program is run through the U.S. State Department. It’s a prestigious award granted to US students and scholars to go abroad for a year and teach English or conduct research, while also representing the US as a cultural ambassador. Applicants apply to a specific country and apply either as an ETA (English Teaching Assistant) or with a research project. I applied to Indonesia as an ETA after spending five weeks there a few summers ago. I am absolutely thrilled to be able to go back and spend ten months living, learning and teaching!
For those of you with logistical questions – I depart sometime in August and I don’t know yet where I’ll be placed. I’ll most likely be teaching in a secondary school – assisting in English classes. At the moment, I’m planning to stay in St. Louis for the summer – I have a job here, volunteer work, an apartment, friends and all my stuff. I’ll likely head back to Seattle in late July/early August and if you are there – I’d love to see you before I take off for Indonesia in mid-August! There will probably be a trip or two in between – definitely to DC, maybe elsewhere…
I promise that I’m planning to blog more often, share more recipes and keep you all better updated on what I’m up to! The blog will likely begin to transition from a majority food blog/partial life blog to a majority life and travel blog/partial food and recipe blog. So if you want to stay updated on my travels around the world, subscribe in the box on the right and you’ll know when I post new things!
Much love, Mackenzie