My Fulbright Experience: Julie Layshock
My Fulbright Portugal experience was an adventure full of exploration, learning, and growth. I was pushed out of my comfort zone more than anticipated but welcomed and embraced the warm Portuguese attitude of “don’t worry, it will all be okay.” I can already feel the positive impact on my science and expect that with time, the significance of Fulbright Portugal will only amplify. Working at the University of Porto also allowed me to further reflect on the global importance of water quality research.
My host and I exchanged many ideas on the direction of water purification using constructed wetlands. We compared our approaches and tools along with the mechanisms we study. I feel that I contributed to the University of Porto by testing and validating useful methods that they will continue to use. I also hope that I sparked some imagination for what we could achieve by working together in the future. Dr Almeida of the University of Porto and I submitted an abstract to a European conference and we have many strategies for continued collaboration including additional applications to FLAD and Fulbright by Portuguese researchers.
I am also very grateful to Fulbright for providing the opportunity for professional and personal growth as well as cultural enrichment. I traveled by train and plane to the north, south, and the Portuguese islands of Sāo Miguel and Madeira. I enjoyed new cuisine, wine, and many traditional customs during the winter holiday season. I happily exhausted myself by hiking and biking through the amazingly diverse Portuguese landscapes. In the lab, I took advantage of the opportunity to sharpen my laboratory skills and to learn several new analytical instruments. The work left to be done is now clearer and I have a better understanding of how to further develop my research at home. I gained a deep understanding of Portuguese history, people, and way of life. In all, I returned home with more confidence in my research and my adaptability. Finally, I have a better vision and perspective that will be useful for writing grants and continuing natural water remediation research.