Helpful information for future Fulbrighters
Slack is a communication mobile app/website platform. There are specific Slack groups for Fulbright applicants for the year cycle that you are applying in. There are thousands of people in the Fulbright Slack group per year and there are even subcategories based on the country/region you apply to. A lot of people use Slack for questions they may have about Fulbright, application process, waiting process and even accepting process. I found it helpful as it was a community where everyone was applying for Fulbright and we could all worry about the decisions together. This also allows you to see who future finalist are and you're able to connect with each other prior to the program start date. You do need to make an account to join/access the Slack Fulbright.
(If the link does not work, send me a message. The link could have expired, and I may have to update it.)
Like Slack, Reddit is also another communication platform. Reddit also has separate sections dedicated to the Fulbright program with thousands of members. Past, current and future Fulbrighters have online discussions about the Fulbright program, application process, waiting process and even accepting process. I personally did not use Reddit, because during my application cycle year, Fulbright Reddit was "deactivated". However, it is back in business and is "active". A bunch of people found Reddit to be immensely helpful during their application process. You do not need an account to read the Reddit threads but you would need an account if you wanted to post a question about Fulbright.
Personal Statement and Statement of Grant Purpose
I highly recommend working on your Personal Statement and Statement of Grant Purpose early on (3-4 months before due date). Get them read, edited and commented by numerous people. I had family, friends and my university alma mater help me with my PS and SGP. It's good to get different people to read them as they bring up different aspects of the essays. My family and friends focused more on the grammatical/structural aspect while my university focused on the content and what is required in the essays. Tips I kept getting from people: paint a story, don't list facts.
If you want, feel free to contact me and I would be more then willing to share my final Personal Statement and Statement of Grant Purpose with you. I did read other people's PS and SGP before writing my own as I found it helpful to have a guideline of what it should look like.
Google Notification Timeline Spreadsheet
Here is a google spreadsheet that contains the dates of when past Fulbrighters were notified of their Semi-finalist status and their Finalist status based on the country they applied to. The spreadsheet contains all the cycle years from 2010-2011 to present. This provides a date of when people heard back based on the country they applied to. Fulbright gives out rough timeline range but each country is different and it was nice having a rough estimate of when I would hear back based on previous cycles. Just a note, Fulbright applicants update all of the spreadsheets themselves. This spreadsheet is not affiliated with Fulbright and is not updated by an official Fulbright employee.
Google Funding Spreadsheet
Here is a google spreadsheet that contains the award funding amount per country. I personally did not use this because it did not really apply to me. I think this spreadsheet is more useful to those applying for a research or open study Fulbright grant. This spreadsheet was just created, so it includes the 2019-2020 cycle year to present cycle. There is not a lot of substantial information and the funding amount could be different depending on the year you apply to. Just a note, Fulbright applicants update all spreadsheets themselves, not by an official Fulbright employee.
Fulbright South Korea ETA Handbook
This is specific to Fulbright South Korea ETAs. The link down below contains all the information you will need once you have been awarded the grant as a Fulbright South Korea ETA. It has everything from Medical Clearance, What to Pack, ETA lifestyle, Teaching, Living Accommodations, Money and Financial Matters, Communications, Food, etc. You will of course receive this handbook by Fulbright once you receive the grant.
Start a Blog
I know starting a blog can be a lot of work but if you have the time, I would recommend it. It's a great way to reflect how you felt during the Fulbright process and journey.
I highly recommend using Wix.com. It is a fantastic site that allows you to customize almost every aspect. Creating your site is free and even free to publish for everyone to see. The only thing I had to pay for was creating my own domain name (www.smilesmilesandmanytrials.com) but you can use the free domain name Wix provides for you, it just isn't as concise or personalized.
FBI Criminal Background Check and USDOS Apostilles
Depending on the country you are going to, some require a FBI Criminal Background Check (FBI CBC) and then get the FBI CBC apostille. During Covid-19, this process took longer than normal. I did the FBI CBC request myself and was able to get the results back within 24 hours. I did an electronic FBI CBC request and then went to an authorized local USPS to get my fingerprints digitally scanned and submitted. You can also go through contractor companies as well. For the FBI CBC Apostille, I went through a contractor company (Monument Visa) and they submitted everything for me once I sent them my FBI CBC via electronically. You are able to send the FBI Apostille request on your own as well. For me, during the Covid-19 pandemic, it took about 4 months for both the FBI background check and FBI apostille to be completed and in my hands. My tip would be to start this process as soon as possible because the timeline is based on the State Department workflow (they do not always go in the order of when documents were received).
If you've received a Fulbright, you may be required to obtain a Drug Test for the country you are going to. South Korea does require this. I tried going to my primary care provider (PCP), however, they do not do Drug Testing. I ended up finding an authorized company (Any Lab Test Now) and did my Drug Testing from them. Tip: If you are required to get a Drug Test, make sure the drug test you obtain will test the substances that are required from the country you're going to. I had to do the 10-Panel Drug Test because the 5-Panel Drug Test didn't contain one of the substances that had to be tested.
Tax Form 8802 and Form 6166
If you are required to request the Certification of Residency to avoid double taxation, then you will need the Form 6166. However, in order to get the Form 6166, you first have to fill out the Form 8802. This form allows us (Americans) to be exempt from salary tax in the country that you are in (not all countries require this form). This form can be confusing but I found a link that gave me step by step instructions of how to fill it out. I've attached the link down below.
If you think you will most likely travel on the weekends, I highly recommend getting a 30L to 45L backpack. With Fulbright South Korea, we are not allowed to leave the country unless it's during summer or winter break. So on the weekends and extended long breaks, we can only travel within South Korea. So far, I've actually not minded this and love traveling and exploring South Korea. I will say, one of the best purchases I made before coming to South Korea is my backpack because it's the perfect size for weekend trips. I use it everyday for school and every time I travel. I personally have the PeakDesign 30L backpack and the PeakDesign 45L backpack but any 30L/45L backpack will work just fine. Just make sure it's reliable and won't fall apart so I suggest one that has some type of structure or rigidity to it.
This may be specific to South Korea, as I do not know the customs of other countries and this is based off of my experience but one thing I wish I would have packed more of were American like items for gifts. Originally, I had packed a lot of gifts but found out it was not enough because gift giving in Korea is quite important so I hadn't accounted for so many people that required a gift. I had to give gifts to my principals, vice principals, co-teachers, host family, and my teachers during orientation. This ended up being a lot of people so I ended up having to split some of the gifts I originally was going to give together to accommdate the amount of people I ended up having to give gifts to. Even if you don't give out the gifts right away, it's nice to have a stock of it so that when you do meet new and important people, you have gifts on hand to give, which is much appreciated and usually the people tend to be more friendly and willing to help thereafter.
This is a work in progress. I will add more tips/helpful information as I think of them.