My name is Rachel (Sky) Brown, and I’m a fourth year undergraduate student at UCSD majoring in Third World Studies and minoring in Literature/Writing. I graduate in a month and will be starting my Fulbright scholarship as an English Teaching Assistant in Taiwan on August 1st. As my major suggests, I’m very interested in international travel with an emphasis on studying culture. Since I have a few months before my Fulbright begins, for now I’ll just mention how and why I ended up here.
I’ve always been interested in living abroad. For me, studying culture is studying people – it’s how we interact, what ties us together, makes us unique and ultimately defines our species. The more places I can go to observe and experience this, the happier I am.
Over the 2011-2012 school year, I spent time as an unofficial ETA at a girls’ high school in Rwanda and later did a semester abroad at the University of Ghana, Legon. [Note from FPA: Just to clarify, this was not an ETA position affiliated with Fulbright.] It was difficult being away from friends, family, and my home country, but I adjusted and enjoyed myself quite a bit in both places. I knew that I wanted to live abroad again. While I adored my time in Africa, I’ve always been fascinated by Asia as well, and when I heard about the Fulbright ETA program and all the places they worked I decided to try applying.
Since I could only apply for a Fulbright in one country, I took a while deliberating. The reason I chose Taiwan in the end was that I reviewed their website and decided that it looked like the best program fit for me. My personal criteria were: 1) in Asia, 2) working with younger children (junior high/elementary), 3) with my main capacity as an assistant rather than a full teacher (I need some more practice) and 4) with a substantial orientation period. Taiwan seemed like the best option for me, and since all I have ever heard about Taiwan has been about its hospitality and unique culture, I decided it seemed like the perfect place to start.
Then I applied and waited and waited and got the good news last month. For now I’m trying to wrap up college, learn a little Mandarin, and prepare for another big move. I’ll keep you updated on how it goes. The most recent news I’ve gotten is that I have been placed in Kinmen, a small island with a population of about 85,000 that is owned by Taiwan and located off the coast of China. I’m excited to see what it’s like.