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Pre Departure - What to Expect from Fulbright

The Fulbright Commission will host a week-long pre-departure orientation (PDO) the summer before your grant. It is a great opportunity to meet other grantees in Sub-Saharan Africa, get teaching resources, and meet your cohort members. I recommend contacting your cohort outside of these sessions to get to know one another. As our coordinator said, your cohort will be your lifeline during your grant. You don’t have to be besties with everyone, but you should have each other’s backs.

Many of the workshops were helpful, they range from identity in Africa and misconceptions about the continent to chatting with Fulbright alumni. However, a fellow grantee (research) and I noticed an absence of resources for first-generation/low-income grantees. While the grant breaks down basic costs (like $500.00 for school supplies), there isn’t much guidance beyond that. I tried to budget before I left, I soon realized that between pre-departure costs and unexpected charges in the early weeks, my original budget was unrealistic. I hope to share an accurate reflection of my prices and spending by the end of my grant.

If you don't have a Fulbright commission in your country, expect members of the US Embassy to help coordinate your travel and orientation. This experience can vary from country to country but I do recommend reaching out to the Foreign Affairs Officer stationed there before leaving. Even if they're not involved in your program, they can offer some helpful tips about life abroad.

A ton of information will be thrown at you and a lot of it won't stick, so keep a running list of questions and do reach out when that list gets to a considerable length.

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