Deshna Majmudar: 2016-17 Fulbright ETA to Spain Recipient

Deshna Majmudar- Fulbright Scholar  

Name: Deshna Majmudar       Major: Biology         Minor: Spanish       Graduation Date: June 2016

Spain

December 2016

What are your future career goals?

I am striving towards becoming a physician, I haven’t picked a specialty yet, but am leaning towards general pediatrics or neonatology (newborn medicine). I would also like to go into Global Health and serve in an international organization (like Doctors Without Borders).

Name of award:

Fulbright US Student Award- English Teaching Assistant.

What inspired you to apply for the award?

Medicine is one of those fields where once you’re in, you never really stop studying or trying to further your career, and of course you have occasional breaks but they’re much harder to come by once you are established and once you start to settle down. Because I knew I would be going into such a huge commitment, I knew I wanted to do something different in between undergrad and medical school. I applied for this award because I love working with children/teenagers, and at the same time I wanted to lean away from doing research or something in the scientific field because that’s all I had done my 4 years in university. Also, I wanted to improve my Spanish speaking skills and at the same time have the opportunity to travel everywhere, which is why Spain was an easy choice for me.

Describe an average day in Spain:

I really only work from Tuesdays to Fridays, and so I generally have Mondays off, unless there’s a puente (long weekend) then I sometimes have 4 or 5 day weekends! For my secondary school, the Fulbrighter is placed in bachillerato classes, which are generally advanced classes for students who will be going into university. I also teach Global Classrooms to 3 ESO students (equivalent of high school freshman) and I will be preparing 10 of them to go to a Model UN Conference here in Madrid. So, during the week I’m generally very busy teaching and lesson planning. I have the luxury of being only 25 minutes away from my school via metro, so I don’t have to get up too early! The beautiful thing about Madrid is that the transportation here is amazing (unlike LA), so I have gotten to know the city so well by just walking around. Twice a week I also teach clases particulares (private classes) in English to an older woman who is so kind and has taught me a lot about Spanish culture! I also get to speak in Spanish to her most of the time since she’s a beginner so I’ve been improving so much in Spanish! During the weekends I sleep in, I go for runs in Parque del Retiro (a lot like Central Park in NYC), travel if it’s a longer weekend, go to lots of cafes to catch up with friends and spend time with my 3 amazing roommates (who are all Spanish!)

What has been your most memorable moment thus far?

 I can’t pinpoint an exact moment, but I do have several! One is becoming friends with locals all around Madrid. I have developed somewhat of a regularity to my life here, so I often go to the same grocery stores, cafes, bookstores, etc, and I everyone is incredibly kind and will talk to you here, so I’ve gotten to know the people who work at these places and they’ve gotten to know me! Another is being able to travel all around Europe, that too for pretty cheap! So far I’ve been to Portugal, the United Kingdom, and I’ll be leaving for Morocco in a few days, and I’m still in awe that I get to see all these places and experience all of the different cultures.

What has been your greatest challenge abroad?

Finding time to do everything you planned to do while living here! To be honest, getting settled is hard! Also, when family isn’t as close by as you would like, you can start to miss home sometimes, but so far I haven’t had severe homesickness or anything, which I contribute to staying busy and saying yes to any opportunity to meet new people and learn new things.

What tips or suggestions do you have for future applicants?

As cliché as it sounds, be yourselves! I didn’t think I was going to get the Fulbright because I was going up against so many other qualified (often more than me) applicants from very prestigious schools, but I think the main thing is to talk about your experiences and why they apply to the specific country, language and/or culture.

What would people be surprised to know about you?  

 That I was inspired to learn Spanish through songs by Selena! (Not Gomez). When I was younger I attended an elementary school with a large Latino population and all of my friends would listen to her songs, and I remember learning a few of them too! 

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For more information about the Fulbright Program, please contact NISFeP.