UAB in Norway: Fulbright Seminar Weekend

"It was inspiring to see all the incredible work that is being done through the Fulbright Program. I was humbled to share the floor with some of the brightest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of knowing."

meir seminar weekend skiingFrom left to right: Shruthi Velidi, Adam Wise, Remy Meir, Anna Schwartz, and Arunima Vijay

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 neuroscienceHer research project will focus on stress as a potential risk factor for addiction. 

We’re excited to feature monthly posts from Remy as she chronicles her Fulbright experience, which began in August 2018, at the University of Oslo.

By Remy Meir

I normally don't care for Valentine's Day, but this year I had a very special day (well, weekend). On February 14, all of the Fulbrighters in Norway got together to host a seminar where we all gave 10-minute presentations on the work we have been doing for the past six months. And when I say all, I mean all of us. We had those doing research grants, study grants, English teaching assistant grants (ETA), roving scholars, and everyone in between present at the event.

The great thing about the Fulbright Scholarship is that grant recipients aren't forced to pursue any particular project on any particular timeline. There are several students like me who have recently completed a bachelor's degree and wanted to pursue an in-depth research experience or complete a master's program. There are also scholars who may be professors at a university in the U.S. who are using the Fulbright Program to teach a class abroad or collaborate with an exciting research partner. Then there is an assortment of people who are working as ETAs or roving scholars. These Fulbrighters may have just completed a bachelor's degree, have been working in their career for a couple years, or are currently working as teachers in the United States and wanted to see how the education system differs abroad.

So, even though we share a grant title, our projects and experiences have been vastly different. And on Valentine's Day, I got to hear talks spanning from how my friend Adam is modeling the aerodynamic wake interaction between multiple utility-scale floating wind turbines to how my friend Kelly is working in Ås as an ETA but spends most of his time talking to Norwegian high schoolers about American government and culture. Twenty-five of us presented that day, and all 25 had different projects and experiences to share. It was inspiring to see all the incredible work that is being done through the Fulbright Program. I was humbled to share the floor with some of the brightest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of knowing.

Following the day-long seminar, we continued the festivities into the evening with a reception at the American Ambassador's house. It was a delightful evening filled with two more talks from Fulbrighters and intermingling between the grantees, political officials, and notable guests. The house was beautiful, the food was exceptional, and the company was unparalleled.

The following day we all loaded onto a bus and headed into the mountains. We spent Friday through Sunday tucked away at Skiekampen in Lillehammer, Norway. We spent the days indulging in downhill or cross-country skiing, which was followed by a trip to the sauna and hot tub. At each meal, we would sit together and share in our experiences. It was fun to come together as a group and not only talk about our work, but actually get to know one another. This weekend allowed me to build lifelong friendships with some truly amazing people. I am so thankful to Fulbright Norway, especially Rena, Kevin, and Pedder, who organize these events where we get to build bonds and see the work that is coming to fruition with this scholarship.

This weekend will go down as my favorite Valentine's Day celebration and I'm not sure that anything will top it.

Pictured below: Photos from our Fulbright Seminar Weekend, from a selfie taken at the U.S. Ambassador's house to the top of a ski run in Lillehammer, Norway.

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