Maine Fulbright Stories offers memories and insights about international exchange experiences from Fulbright Award grantees who either came from Maine, or came to Maine, to complete their Fulbright Awards.

Michael Socolow

Where and When Was Your Fulbright Award?  I was a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar at the University of Canberra, in Australia, in 2019.

Why did you originally decide to apply for a Fulbright?

I’ve studied and worked abroad several times in my life, and I always loved it. My wife and I had discussed the possibility of my teaching or researching abroad if the right opportunity presented itself, so I started checking Fulbright opportunities a few years before I actually applied. Australia was on our list of countries because I had worked there in 1999 and 2000 for the Sydney Olympic Broadcasting Organization (SOBO) and loved it.

How did the Fulbright experience help your professional development and career?

The Fulbright award helped my professional development in numerous ways.  It helped expand my research agenda on transnational broadcast history, but even beyond my scholarship, I was able to make connections to excellent scholars working on diverse projects at several Australian universities.  I learned much from my colleagues at the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra, and I’ve enjoyed remaining in communication with several Australian scholars.

What were your favorite experiences in Australia?

Election Day in Australia (May, 2019). Eating “Democracy Sausages” outside the Old Parliament Building, Canberra, Australia.

There were so many, it’s difficult to narrow them down and name just a few.  One terrific experience for the family was the full immersion into Australian social and culture; my two sons attended Australian schools, and my wife joined a cycling group, and we all tried to experience Canberra as local residents in numerous ways (such as attending professional rugby games at the Australian Institute of Sport’s GIO Stadium, or going to the farmer’s market at the Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC) on the weekends).  As to specific highlights, we loved our trip up north to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree National Forest, and our beach trips out to Bateman’s Bay, and a visit to Sydney.  We also feel lucky to have been able to witness and experience an Australian election day (in May, 2019).

What would you like to tell Mainers about the Fulbright Program?

I would encourage Mainers to look for the right spot – and then apply!  It’s an extraordinary, life-changing opportunity to explore, make friends, participate in new endeavors, and develop professional connections around the world.  It will change your life.