To state that my Fulbright-Schuman experience in the US has so far been “intensive” is a serious understatement. I have been in Washington focusing on my PhD research at the Center for Transatlantic Relations, School of Advanced International Studies – Johns Hopkins University since the end of March 2012 and it is hard for me to believe that my 9-month fellowship will soon be over.
Apart from my everyday research work and participating actively in the rich life of the DC think tank community, I have also engaged in a few additional activities to maximize my time in the US:
One of them was a trip to Chicago to attend a series of meetings organized by the Chicago Council on Foreign Affairs as side events of the NATO Summit in April, including one with the former Secretary of State – Madeleine Albright.
Being in the nation’s capital during the election campaign has made my fellowship even more exciting. A tight presidential race is a topic everyone is talking about in DC and the best part is being able to observe the campaign up close. I listen, talk to people, watch the TV debates with friends, ask questions, and also… write: I have started sharing my observations of the American election campaign in a blog, which is published on one of the Polish news web portals (for those who desperately want to practice Polish by following my blog: http://magdalenaluminska.natemat.pl
Keeping the race spirit, I also challenged myself to a few runs and completed the Navy-Air Force 5 miler and the 10K Run for the National Parks. Sure, my muscles were a bit sore after each run, but a “private visit” at the Lincoln Memorial on a very early Sunday morning before all the tourists get there was definitely worth the effort.
And even though I was somewhat sad to miss an important international event in my own home country this summer – the EURO championship, which was cohosted by Poland, I helped to promote the event in DC as much as I could. It turned out that European football (or soccer as I was taught to call it) has quite a few true fans among the Americans I met. Some relied on my advice and bravely went on a trip to five different cities in Poland to see the matches.
I am told that the EURO2012 souvenirs will be displayed in some American homes for quite some time. And I will surely cherish many new friends long after my fellowship is over, because apart from a wonderful educational experience, that is what I believe Fulbright-Schuman is all about.
Magdalena Lumińska is a 2012-13 Fulbright Schuman Award alumna.