Every time I start believing that I am sufficiently removed from my Fulbright experience to return to my anonymous student life, I get requests like this from readers like Darsh who want to know more about the FLTA experience in the United States. I’ve once written about what to expect in a one-year trip away from home, but here are a few more. As soon as you have passed the initial stages of being selected at your local country consulate, you are almost on your way to the United States.
1. How much is the monthly stipend? A: In 2009/2010, it was a little over $1000 per month. I hear that it also depends on where in the US you’re posted to. If you are on the coast, you get a lot more (but then spend a lot more as well for food, and rent).
2. Is the stipend ever sufficient? A: Yes. With very prudent use, you would usually spend about half of the whole stipend monthly on food, housing and books. At the very worst case scenario, you would still be able to save about $300 every month.
3. Can relatives visit me from home? A: Technically, they can, but that is not what the program is about, so it is not encouraged. Believe me, the last thing you want is carrying the home baggage with you. But then, it’s up to you.
4. Can I date my students? A: No. Bad idea.
5. Can I date other students on campus? A: Yes.
6. If any of the people I date at #5 ever become my student in another semester, what should I do? A: I have no idea. But the fact that you know that such scenario is possible should make you re-think #5. You’ll find very many opportunities to meet other new people.
7. Will I need a mobile phone? A: Yes, but you don’t have to bring it along from your country.
8. Will I need a car? A: Not usually. You’d be able to get by without one on most campuses. Many FLTAs however often apply for, and obtain, a driver’s licence before they leave the US. It could be a worthwhile endeavour.
9. How cold is a cold weather? A: Very cold. If you have never seen snow before, chances are you will start needing to buy winter clothes and boots as soon as late October. Right now, it is 6 degrees Celsius.
10. Can I stay in the US after the program? A: No. There is a mandatory “return policy” which you’d sign on your way in. As soon as you’re done, you are required to head home first, before you do anything else.
to be continued…