Welcoming 2009 with a Berlin Bang
Today I woke up to an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun is shining and the ground is covered with a fresh blanket of snow - it is my own winter wonderland in Berlin as I start back to classes and research after the winter break.
My entire family was able to come overseas and spend Christmas with me here in Berlin. It was an incredible opportunity for my family, and so much fun to take part in all of the German Christmas traditions. A very memorable Christmas for the Espy Family!
After taking part in a 6 weeks intensive German language course in Marburg right before my official grant period, I established close friendships with other Fulbrighters that are researching for the year all across Germany. Some of the Fulbrighters and I at the New Years Eve celebration in downtown Berlin.
But amidst all of the excitement and short break from university life, I have been reflecting over my 2008 road to achieving the Fulbright in Germany. The research opportunities, the exciting conference events, the new friends, the chance to be immersed and live in a new culture, and the life-long ties that I have already begun creating is absolutely incredible - my Fulbright experience has already turned out to be the most rewarding opportunity in my lifetime, and the grant period is not even half way over yet.
It would be hard to try and unbundle all of my experiences in this short blog post, but I will try and give a small snap shot into my Fulbright life Germany style.
The Fulbright is a unique program that allows each grantee to pursue a specific project. There are no cookie-cutter experiences or paths, but tremendous support and help to guide you in your personal research goals and endeavors. I am taking two university classes at Freie Universitaet Berlin this semester related to my project topic of Energy Security in the European Union and working on my personal research project. My advisor here in Germany, along with the Fulbright Commission, has helped put me in contact with individuals and conferences in my field. I have had the opportunity to hear Chancellorin Merkel deliver a speech, spoken with NATO retired generals, attended events at different Embassies in Berlin, had coffee with think tank researchers, listened to current and visiting Professor lectures on campus, have been invited to join a small research team of young professionals working on energy security issues in Europe (we hope to organize three conferences in 2009), and have remained in close contact with my mentor at Georgia Tech along the way. And looking ahead to 2009, so much more is in store as I begin to dig deeper into my personal project!
Chancellorin Merkel speaking at Hotel Adlon at the 54th ATA Conference in Berlin. I was on the 6th row!
In the Reichstag overlooking the Budestag (German Parliament) seats.I do not have much more to offer right now, but I hope to update the blog with more adventures and discussion of my research. I am a 2008 graduate, with a BS in International Affairs. And I encourage anyone interested in pursuing a Fulbright to go for it - it is indescribably worth it!!! I am happy to answer any questions through email and if you are interested in following my day-to-day adventures, check out my personal blog: http://halleyingermany.blogspot.com/