My name is Daniel Shorr and I'm a GT graduate of '08, current Fulbright Fellow researching international warning symbol comprehension at Kyoto University as a psychological researcher.
For this post, I'd first like to share a little personal history to put things in context and then focus on providing tips about the application process, concluding with a very brief reflection on my Fulbright grant year thus far.
- Since summer before Sophomore year, I have been affiliated with GT psychology labs, involved in the research process and loving it. (I did my senior thesis with the HFA Lab - wonderful, supportive research environment [yes, for undergrads too!])
- I studied Japanese at Tech for three years (quality program), freshman - junior (I would have continue senior year but requisite courses for my graduation created a scheduling conflict).
- Summer before junior year I attended GPC's 20 day study abroad in Japan program (note: USG students such as Techies are eligible to participate). I don't know how the current program is conducted, but in the incarnation that I experienced it it was a great introduction to Japan - basically a guided tour to many, many places [from Tokyo to Hiroshima], granting much freedom to explore on your own, and allowed nearly all of the bookwork to be completed upon return to the states (grade was mainly based on a research paper).
- Summer before Senior year I attended Tech's 6 week LBAT Japan and had a great, but very different experience - much, much, much more emphasis on studying. If you go, I highly recommend remaining in Japan after the program finishes if you want to have a chance to relax, hang out with the cool folks you met when slaving over your coursework, and do some more sightseeing.
- After returning to the states, I was considering my post-graduation options. I knew I wanted to return to Japan somehow; I wanted to become more accustomed to Japanese life, I wanted to become fluent, and I knew that the only way to do that would be to live here. I also knew that I loved research, and had interest in conducting cross-cultural studies.
- I spoke with Dr. Howard Rollins who suggested I consider the Fulbright program. He told me I'd be able to perfectly merge my interests of psychology research, cross-cultural research, and living in Japan (and I have).
- I was then directed to Ms. Amy Henry who very supportively guided me through the application process.
- Before meeting with her, I first did extensive research about the Fulbright Fellow program online. There was a mountain of information and it was somewhat overwhelming, but after sorting through it for hours it started to make sense.
- If memory serves, I had less than 2 months from the time I became aware of the Fulbright program to the time my application was due. That was intimidating. As soon as I decided that I was going to apply, I requested letters of recommendation (rec).
- Who provided my 3 letters of rec? 1) one of my HFA lab directors, 2) a Tokyo Tech professor who was friends with my lab directors and whom I knew from making a presentation to his lab, and 3) one of my GT Japanese professors whom I knew well.
- Because of the imminent deadline, I prioritized the application and "fought to keep my drafts on other people's desks." By that I mean to say that since I could only control the rate at which I completed work, and not the rate at which others reviewed my work, I prioritized completing my work as quickly as possible so that it could be back on their desks as quickly as possible. While they were working on proofreading I could refocus on my classwork and other obligations.
- In addition to the written application, there was a GaTech conducted interview. Do not fear this at all. It is more akin to a final, group proofreading and advice session. Literally, a few Tech professors discussed with me my proposed research and helped me better tailor it to the Fulbright application reviewers.
- It is never too early to start considering your future. Make choices that lead toward your goals.
- Use the internet to research things first before you meet with people - it saves both of you effort in the long run. When you meet you can focus on any gaps in the online/published info; no one needs waste their time discussing what is already printed and understood.
- Don't be dissuaded by tight deadlines.
- Ask people to proofread - get a variety: friends, professors, TA's - people whose ability you respect and with whom you have a candid rapport.
- Be 100% sure that you are applying before you request letters of rec.
- As soon as you are 100% sure, request your letters of rec (i.e., respect others' time).
- Create a timeline of when you should have each step of the process completed. It will keep you on track.
- Do not fear the Fulbright interview.
Reflections on my Fulbright Grant experience:I am thrilled to be alive. Kyoto U. has fostered wonderful experiences for me in many ways.
- Research-wise: via my helpful research advisor (Dr. Kusumi), supportive labmates, and thought-provoking weekly seminars and department colloquiums.
- Japanese language-wise: via the numerous Japanese language classes taught by engaging professors, and through my simply living here.
- Socially: via my friendships with labmates and connections outside of the university - some through Fulbright events, some through my own exploration of Kyoto, and some through friends I had from previous visits.
If you'd like to know more, you can contact me at dshorr [at] gatech [dot] edu. And feel free to check out my photosite and personal blog.
Best of luck to you in achieving your dreams,