The application was demanding. A whole bunch of documents that I needed to gather and the two most important essays that I just wanted to be perfect. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, you need to work hard to make your dreams come true and I don’t mind at all! I can do whatever it takes! Actually, it was my pleasure! (That’s how nerdy I am). Thankfully, my friends and family were also really supportive and helped out with great advice, and patience above all when I made them read my Personal Statement and Study objectives over and over again. Thanks folks! I really appreciate it! Special thanks to my dear friend Fulbright alumna Kristina Domazetoska who selflessly shared her amazing experience and gave me very useful feedback on creating my CV, among other. The most amazing, smart, kind and positive person you’ll ever meet! Thanks Kiki <3
Application deadline May 31, click SEND! Now what? Now.. just… wait….
August 4, 2016 Hot summer’s day. I was drinking coffee at ‘Galeb’ beach. Biiip – email! Gazmend Ilazi – mini-heart attack. OMG! I need to open the email. It’s crowded, loud music, Anastas is dragging me, I’m talking to my uncle. Oh yes, I still remember the whole picture. Moment of truth!
Thank you for your application for the 2017-2018 Fulbright Student Program. I would like to inform you that we have scheduled your interview to take place at the U.S. Embassy – Skopje, Macedonia on September 1, 2016, at 9:00 am.’
WOW! An interview at the U.S. Embassy? Me? Really? With all these smart people? I could be dreaming… Thank you God! I started jumping and singing and calling all my friends and family. I passed the first round! Next step, the interview! Nope, not stressful at all… what should I even wear? What if they don’t like me? What if they ask me a question that I won’t be able to answer? What, what, what if I’m not good enough to be a Fulbrighter? It’s such an honor to have that title! Dear friends, everyone gets stressed in life-changing crucial moments. I knew these will be the most important 20 minutes of my life! Still, I need to remain calm and of course positive! Positive is my middle name. Yes, I can do the interview, I got this far, I will make it till the end!
September 1, 2016 9.00AM The Interview
There has always been something special about this date. As a kid, that was the first day of school and the marker of the start of a new cycle. As a teacher, this date marker the end of the summers vacation and the start of the new school year, meeting new students, meeting new challenges. On September 1st the air changes it smell, there’s always been something special about it, it has always smelled like a new beginning. This year it was the most special September 1st in my life. The alarm clock started ringing. I didn’t snooze this time.. My friend Kiki came to wake me up. ‘Rise and shine sleepyhead, the time has come’ – I said to myself. Kiki made me a hot Turkish coffee and went to prepare my clothes. I was sitting on the balcony, all confused, excited and a little bit nervous, I may say, thinking about how important today’s interview is. ‘The taxi has arrived. I have no doubt that you will do a great job, just be yourself, I believe in you’ – said Kiki and gave me a big hug.
The ride to the Embassy seemed so long. I could hear my heart beating faster and slower at the same time. Here I am, I made it. One familiar face opened the door – ‘AGATA we are ready for you’ – said Gazmend. The room was larger than I expected. There were 8 people (or so I remember) sitting on the table. I smiled and said Hello. ‘These people seem very nice’ – I thought – ‘It’s not that bad, I need to relax a little bit and just be myself’. First question – ‘Why did you apply for Fulbright?’. That one seemed as an expected and easy question, but what do they want me to say? I started by explained my reasons and stated that Fulbright is the most prestigious scholarship that one can imagine. The conversation continued smoothly. I wasn’t sure I was doing a good job answering these questions, even though people were smiling and nodding. ‘Thank you for coming’ – said one member – do you have anything to add?’ Yes I do. ‘I just wanted to add that if we want to make a difference we need to start from the basis. Education is the foundation of every other profession. Let’s start by changing the education system by integrating new technology and learning from the leading nation in technology, let’s make a difference in Macedonia’
‘Thank you for coming Agata, we will contact you as soon as we make our decision.’