I applied for a Fulbright between my 2nd and 3rd year of medical school for several reasons. I had always wanted to go to Spain, I desperately wanted to improve my written and oral Spanish, I felt this was likely my last opportunity to do something like this, and I knew I needed a break before residency.
I decided on childhood obesity for my project, since it is both a huge public health issue and a topic that really interests me. Through the medical school Alumni Association, I lucked out a bit and was put in contact with a Spanish foreign Fulbright scholar working here in Philadelphia, who then put me in contact with another Spanish foreign Fulbright scholar working in Madrid, and thus I had my mentor. The application process was a bit grueling, since I went through several rewrites before meeting with the Drexel committee, and one final one afterwards.
The year flew by in retrospect, but it was an amazing time, and it was incredibly valuable, both personally and professionally. My Spanish has vastly improved, and I have a much deeper understanding of Spanish culture. The Spanish way of life at times is in stark contrast to the American way, but it is something to be appreciated. Through my project, I have made many professional contacts, and I have been able to branch out and work on several other projects within my host institution. I left many friends behind in the U.S., but I have made many friends here, both Spaniards and expatriates.
I have come to understand the meaning of an ‘enriching experience.’ I would never trade this year for anything.