Jeremy McGale

Fulbright Academic Grant, 2017–2018

I spent my Fulbright grant working in Germany after graduating with a degree in chemistry. Fully intent on returning to the U.S. afterwards and pursing a Ph.D. in the same subject, I saw my year abroad as an opportunity to test myself in an entirely new research environment, in an entirely new culture, on a completely different continent, and see what I could learn through the process. And it turns out that once I left the comfort of my undergraduate lab and had to break ground in this new setting, I made the rather startling discovery that the chemistry I was working on wasn’t the path I wanted to follow for the rest of my life.

But really this turnaround represented only the culmination of a year of tremendous personal growth. And while there were the standard hardships of establishing oneself abroad, I will always hold close to my heart the people that I met and the experiences we shared. Not only did I meet amazing and hospitable Germans in my lab and cozy little town, I was blown away by how remarkable the other Fulbright students were who came to Germany. In reality, my greatest instances of growth resulted from speaking to others around me and hearing their stories.