FAQ: How do I select a country to apply to?
Deciding on a country of application
Fulbright has approximately 1,900 scholarships to over 160 countries. That means, there are 160 countries that offer their own unique perspectives, experiences, and opportunities. If you already have a strong idea of where you want to go, that’s great! I would still recommend that you read through this post so that you will be able to articulate WHY you are applying to that country.
There are plenty of factors you should consider when selecting a country…
Language. It is important to remember that you will not be on a year-long vacation. You will be living your daily life in a country that will likely not speak your native tongue. You should ensure that you are at a comfortable level with the language, even if the application says that there is no language requirement! If there is no language requirement for your country of choice, and you do not have a strong hold of the language, I highly recommend that you plan to take summer language courses before you leave and/or classes during your Fulbright! You won’t regret it :)
Justifiability. Select a country that is compatible with your specific project. Your project will be evaluated by experts on the country, so you must show that you are knowledgeable about the country/city in which you are proposing to live. Think again about FINER. Does it make sense to conduct your project in this city? Am I able to accomplish my project goals within the timeframe of the program?
Genuine and personal interest. This is one of the most important points! Apply to a country that you would be willing, and perhaps even enjoy, living in for about a year. You can apply to a country that you visited multiple times and already have a relationship with, or to a country that has always interested you, but you have not yet had the opportunity to experience. This may seem obvious, until you check the acceptance statistics of different countries and see that they may lean in your favor.
Some countries tend to be more competitive (numbers-wise) than others. HOWEVER, this is not to say that your application can be any less stellar than it would be applying to the UK, one of the most competitive programs. Please do not apply to Fulbright Luxembourg without even knowing the capital of Luxembourg JUST because of the shiny 50:50 chance you calculated.
You must have a legitimate reason to apply to the country. Apply to the country because you love the culture and have been studying it for years, or because there is a lab that is working with the exact same aquaporin protein as your lab in the U.S. and you just have to participate in the exchange of science, culture, and knowledge that would ensue if your lab forces collided!!
Okay, okay… a little nerdy BUT Fulbright is a program where nerds are very welcome to apply!
Now, go forth and get your nerd on.