Snapshot: Laura Gilbert (Brazil, 2018/19)

Feb 04, 2020

Laura Gilbert

After living abroad, I realize how an international student may feel frustrated with bureaucratic processes that differ from their home country or confused by different cultural and communicative norms in their relationships with U.S. Americans. My Fulbright grant certainly provided me a greater context to consider when providing students support


A key memory from my Fulbright experience happened when, near the completion of my grant, my co-ETA (English Teaching Assistant) and I presented at a branch campus of our university for a World Languages day. We led a presentation and discussion on cultural differences between the U.S. and Brazil, switching between English and Portuguese for students. Preparing for the presentation was a way for me to reflect on the challenges and rewards of working in a new cultural setting and in a different language. Our presentation had one of the best turnouts of all our events during the grant year and I enjoyed seeing how students responded to aspects of U.S. culture that they hadn’t noticed, as well as aspects of Brazilian culture from the perspective of U.S. Americans. It was one of the most engaging and interesting presentations and dialogues with Brazilian students that I had during the grant year.

My Fulbright experience has been incredibly informative to my current role as an International Student Advisor at Arizona State University. I didn’t realize how challenging it would be as an international student in a medium-sized town of rural southern Brazil. The day-to-day of providing explanations of my presence in Brazil and why I spoke with a different variety of speech sometimes felt exhausting. At the same time, I had to come to terms with the fact that my Brazilian community was simply curious about my presence and may not have realized how often I received similar questions. After living abroad, I realize how an international student may feel frustrated with bureaucratic processes that differ from their home country or confused by different cultural and communicative norms in their relationships with U.S. Americans. My Fulbright grant certainly provided me a greater context to consider when providing students support at the International Student & Scholars Center (ISSC).
I set up the Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs (HEASA) group on Fulbrighter to create a space where Fulbrighters who are connected to this field can meet other scholars, share relevant professional organizations and events, and provide a platform for discussion. The group is new and we are seeking contributions to better establish the culture of the group. If you would like to contribute, please reach out!

My ideal day involves spending the morning enjoying the outdoors by going on a hike by myself or with a friend. And following the hike with a delicious brunch and visiting my grandfather near the Superstition Mountains. Strengthening my relationships, spending time outdoors, and moving in some form is all I need for a great day. Good weather doesn’t hurt either though!


Laura Gilbert was an English Teaching Assistant in Brazil in 2018/19. She has recently established the 'Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs' group in Fulbrighter.

Join the group


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