Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lithuanian Fulbright Scholar Discovers San Diego--from Mindaugas Briedis

Our today's dispatch is from Professor Mindaugas Briedis from Mykolas Romeris University who is currently finishing his Fulbright Visiting Scholar stay at National University in San Diego, California. 

My Fulbright stay in San Diego lasted for four months and it is hard to grasp the entirety of experience that I’ve got. Perhaps the easier way to tell about it is to divide my story according to Fulbright goals.
The basic goal of the Fulbright was twofold: to get academic experience while being a cultural ambassador for my country. It is amazing how those two modes of stay worked perfectly in my case. As I lived in the very heart of San Diego (downtown), every day after my work I was able to enjoy countless outdoor activities – sports, beaches, hikes, etc. Evenings were dedicated to movies, books, glimpses of the night life of San Diego and, of course, reflection.
At National University I met many friendly colleagues who helped me during my first steps in online education. Surprisingly, I was able not only to watch others working, ask questions and get information, but actually to design an online class and teach it under the great supervision of prof. Paul Majkut. It is true that I have got compliment letters from all (!) of my students. This was certainly a great encouragement for my ambition to learn how to teach online.

Although the first month of my stay was pretty tough (perhaps because of all the paperwork that needed taking care of--banking, lease, social security number, etc.), later I got into a rhythm and found time for my next academic goal – research. National university provided me with all resources needed, thus I could work on my research on online education in humanities. I will present the results of the research at a conference in March and eventually publish the presentation in English.
These were my formal academic goals, but I also want to tell you how much I loved being amongst the people of San Diego in many creative ways. As I am an avid guitarist, I looked to continue playing in California, and we formed a temporary band with other professors at National and played three gigs at a retirement home, Christmas carol at the university and at the gathering of San Diego musicians. Great pleasure! Another great event was organized by San Diego Fulbright panel – we had a nice dinner, music and warm talking in one of the +Balboa Park venues

During all those events I was able to share my experiences with many great friends (students, professor as well as city folks) who also gave me a lot of excellent advice. Thanks to them. I visited most interesting areas and museums in San Diego and travelled California (six national parks – from the desert sands to mountain ice!) for a week. I lived downtown, so always felt the pulse of the city, but also found my solitary refuge with great books and movies as well. I can confidently say I am happy and looking forward to the future – I have determined to tie my life with Fulbright opportunities.