It might sound a bit ‘corny’, but one of my favourite things to watch whenever I fly Qantas Airways is the iconic ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ videomercial.
As I sat homebound for Sydney, it occurred to me how the meaning of ‘home’ has since changed.
My time in Boston was marked by numerous highlights – from making new friendships, developing new research skills, exploring new city surroundings, to experiencing U.S. culture through areas like sport, education, and entrepreneurship.
These experiences ensured a new sense of belonging, greater knowledge and understanding, and an improved version of myself. I am proud to have called Boston my second home, and am thankful to everyone who took part in my journey.
As I reflect on my Fulbright experience, here’s a snapshot of what happened during those 4 months.
I would argue that Boston University (BU) has the most vibrant student community scene in the Boston area. I know, big call for a city where a third of the population is students; and I may be a little biased.
During my time at BU, I was active in several societies that made it very easy to integrate into the community. These included the Music Engagement Society, Graduate Music Society, Graduate Women in Science and Engineering, and Women in Chemistry.
Generously supported by BU, these societies ran regular events and some of those highlights included performing in a music concert for aged care residents at Hale House, meeting dozens of female-identifying STEM students and entrepreneurs across the Northeast region at a Spring Summit, having dinner with acclaimed African American scientist, Dr. Raychelle Burks, and talking about the current state of music education with like-minded graduate music students across the river at Harvard.
And of course, there is no better way to get to know a new area than by talking to locals. I’ve had countless educational and enjoyable conversations with locals that made my Boston experience wicked awesome.
In essence, the Fulbright scholarship is an opportunity to facilitate bilateral relationships, not only through research excellence but also through cultural understanding. And so my mission was to do exactly that – to experience life as an American whilst simultaneously exposing my American friends to some of the best things Australia has to offer.
In the land of the free, I went from museums to concert halls, trying local Boston food, and cheering on the Boston Celtics, Red Sox and marathon runners with the other 20,000+ Bostonian fans, to shopping at Trader Joe’s, watching a jazz concert at Birdland Theatre, having a birds eye view of D.C. from the Washington Monument, trying delicious potato donuts in Portland, and visiting the biggest shopping mall in North America.
As for the Oz experience, I went all out on the classics – from co-hosting a Texan/Aussie BBQ with the humble sausage sizzle, to hosting an Aussie-themed party with sausage rolls and lamingtons (bought from CuppaCoffee, an Australian-owned cafe in Boston) as well as home-baked pavlova (thanks to fellow Fulbrighter and legendary baker, Patricia!), Tim Tams, Milo, Bundaberg ginger beer and of course, vegemite!
Any highlights you might ask? Being able to convert a vegemite hater to a vegemite lover!
Pro tip: Use vegemite sparingly over a generous slab of butter.
It’s almost stereotypical when you see American parents on TV sending their teenagers ‘off to college’, but when you’re from an island continent, going to ‘college’ usually means travelling less than an hour away from home.
So naturally, entering a new city and learning about a new research field was certainly daunting at first. But what I quickly learned was that I had the courage to adapt.
And I truly believe that having courage is one of the most important hallmarks of being a Fulbright scholar, and one of the most empowering life lessons that I learned.
Have courage to learn new things, meet new people, explore new environments.
Have courage to be bold, to take a chance on yourself.
Have courage to leave your comfort zone.
I am deeply thankful to the Fulbright Commission and the Kinghorn Foundation for being able to live and study in Boston as a Fulbright Future Scholar. The long-lasting impact of these experiences are truly immeasurable. I also acknowledge that I am immensely privileged to have had this opportunity.
If you’re interested in applying for a Fulbright scholarship or want to find out more, please do not hesitate to contact me as I’d be more than happy to chat!
This post is not sponsored. All views are my own.