“A little more than a year has passed since my arrival from the USA. Looking back, I can say it was a tough but also an exciting and very enriching experience. Before I go on, I want to thank once again, and this time publicly, all Fulbright Commission professionals who helped me achieving my goals. Without them, I would still be dreaming.
When I went to the USA with the purpose of getting my MS in Finance, at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, my expectations were high, but fortunately I ended up not disappointed at all. The town and campus were calm and quiet. The University facilities were good and the Finance Department well organised with some of the best faculty members in the Finance scientific community. There were also bad things but the worst for me were the room and the food. I was in a graduate student’s Hall. The room was very small and the food was bad (especially for a Portuguese!).
In general, all Fulbrighters point out the same benefits of the American experience such as: learning new skills, creating new friendships, contact with other cultures, visiting new places, getting to know yourself better and so on. For me, all these aspects were important but, above all, I would emphasise four particular benefits from my Fulbright experience:
The first, and most direct benefit was education. The MS in Finance not only gave me knowledge in a new field of finance which I was not aware of, but it also gave me a broader insight and perspective of possible paths for my future career. Before I left for the USA, I was working for about 5 years in a Portuguese bank as a credit analyst. When I returned to the bank, and because of the new education, I was able to change to the Finance Department of the bank. Now, after more than a year in the Finance Department, I am sure that the knowledge and skills, learned during my Master’s degree, were key factors for my fast integration in such a demanding department.
Secondly, it taught me how to deal with stress and pressure. Concerning this aspect I learned two lessons. The first one was to concentrate and focus on tasks and problems one at a time. Thinking about all the problems and tasks at the same time just brings more stress. The second lesson was how to control stress and pressure. I learned how to always “stand up” and keep on working hard. Also, I learned to never give up because tomorrow will be another day and achievements will come. Jogging and sports are very helpful stress releasers even when time seems to be “shrinking” day after day.
During my stay in the USA, I realised the importance of some people in my life. A good example is my wife. When I got back from the USA, I got married.
Last but certainly not the least, and more difficult to put in words, is a matter of personal attitude. I am sure that Fulbright reinforced my deep convictions that I should never stop dreaming, questioning and being critical with all that surrounds me. Despite in my daily life I feel the pressure of the “old Restelo man”, who is against all winds of change, as a Fulbrighter, I think I have the “obligation” of questioning, being tolerant with other opinions and cultures, but critical with all sorts of injustice. In summary, I believe I should try to do my little part to make this world a better place to live in.”
Fulbright MS Student at University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign, AY 2000/2001