Editor’s Note: For the 2018-2019 academic year, UAB had a record number of students and alumni selected for the prestigious Fulbright Student Program, the flagship international exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. Four of the six award recipients are from the UAB College of Arts and Sciences, including Remy Meir. An Auburn, Alabama, native, Meir has been awarded the Fulbright Study/Research grant to conduct research at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. Meir graduated from UAB Honors College in Spring 2018 with a bachelor's degree in neuroscience. Her research project will focus on stress as a potential risk factor for addiction.
We’re excited to feature blog posts from Remy as she chronicles her Fulbright experience, which began in August 2018 at the University of Oslo.
By Remy Meir
Here in Norway, the holiday season passed in a blur. The days were short, dark, and cold. However, that did not stop me from creating some of my warmest memories.
Thanksgiving crept up on all the Fulbrighters in Norway. The five of us in the greater Oslo area decided we should come together to celebrate. So, I invited everyone over to my student apartment with the requirement that they make their favorite Thanksgiving dish. We gathered around my candlelit table and shared our favorites foods and what we were thankful for that year. I was thankful for the chance to come together with these wonderful people and talk about what we had accomplished in 2018 and what we will go on to achieve. All of the people I have met through Fulbright constantly inspire me to push the boundaries of what I am doing and to do so with passion. We all have such unique projects and interests, but one thing we share is our eagerness to try to solve the problems we see in the world. I am so thankful for nights like that when we come together and share not only a meal but a good time.
December was filled with even more inspiration. As a Fulbrighter, we get entered into a ticket raffle to attend the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony. This year, I had the honor to attend the 2018 ceremony. The Peace Prize is the only Nobel Prize awarded in Oslo, Norway. This year the prize was split between two winners, Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad. The focus of the 2018 award was ending sexual violence as a weapon of war. Dr. Mukwege works in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a gynecologist who specializes in treating women who have been raped or suffered sexual assault as a result of war. Nadia Murad was only 19 when she was captured by the Islamic State from her village in northern Iraq and forced to be a slave who suffered heinous acts by her captors. (I encourage all to read Nadia Murad's memoir, "The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State.")
Listening to their stories and hearing their calls to action was one of the most inspiring moments of my life. These individuals have dedicated their lives to fighting the injustices they see in their countries and they are not afraid to point fingers or call for help. This experience served as a reminder that we cannot solve all the world's problems alone, we must come together to pursue the justices we believe in. I hope the powerful words spoken by Dr. Mukwege and Nadia Murad were able to reach and inspire the world as they inspired me.
The rest of the holiday season continued to be filled with special experiences. I spent December in Norway continuing to work on my project until my family came over to celebrate Christmas. It was exciting to show them around my new home and have them experience Nordic life-from dog sledding to watching the northern lights. After my family left, my UAB friends—who have all pursued different passions and paths—came to visit. Cooper Crippen, my close friend and fellow Blazer, is currently completing a master's program in environmental chemistry in Amsterdam and offered to host a New Year's reunion of UAB alumni. Our group was made up of Reid Ballard, a post-bac researcher at the NIH; Aaron Landis, a first-year UAB medical student; and Marena Leisten, a recent UAB grad who secured a job with Red Bull. It filled me with so much joy to see how all my friends from university have gone on to chase their goals. UAB prepared us to go out into the world with passion; this was yet another encouragement to go into the new year with an appetite for success. I'm so thankful UAB provided me with such amazing friends who continue to show me that everyone has their own version of success and that it can always be achieved.
These past couple have months may have been cold and dark, but they have filled me with so much light. I have immense gratitude for every person I have encountered in my journey—from my fellow Fulbrighters and UAB alumni to Nobel laureates. They continue to challenge me to be better and do better.
Read More from Remy Meir in Norway: