I know some have wondered how we can afford to take the whole family to the US for a full year – considering life continues to run its course in Norway while we are gone, meaning bills will still need to be paid even if we are living elsewhere!
The answer lies in private and government grants!
I am the recipient of a Fulbright grant (private – ca USD 10 000) and a Leiv Eirksson Mobility Grant (public – ca USD 53 000).
Fulbright Visiting scholar Grant: This is a flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.” More info about Fulbright here: http://www.cies.org/about_fulb.htm For this grant, I needed to fill out an online application, get three references, and go to an interview (for those who made the short list).
The latter, Leiv Eriksson Mobility Grant from the Norwegian Research Council is a grant with standard rates based on us being a family and what the research council considers is necessary for a family of five to have extra to cover expenses with a full year abroad. There were 42 recipients of the Leiv Erikssons Mobility Grant in 2011 and I was fortunate to have a project description that fit what the Norwegian Research Council was interested in this year:
Balancing Competing Claims to Coastal and Inland Water Resources: Comparing California on the US West Coast with the Norwegian experience
The application was straightforward, and I did it online. I needed a glowing recommendation from my department as well, which I was fortunate enough to get 🙂
Both grants are naturally very competitive, and in order to receive them you would need the following:
- An invitation letter from your host institution! It is not a requirement, but it is specified in both applications that it is indeed a good thing for this to be ready! That way, they know you are serious about going and that you are wanted in your host institution as well!
- A good project description – spend some time here! Find out why your project is great – how does it benefit your school? the country? the host instutiton? your career (last)? Is it current? Find out what the research council has as its strategic areas and tie this into your application – make it a relevant one that stands out and that obviously is very important for more people than yourself!
- Great references – I dont know for sure how much this is of importance, but I am guessing it is somewhat important at least since it is part of the application process!
- A good reason for needing to be in a given location then you have a good shot – dont just pick California because it is sunny and fabulous! Tell them exactly WHY this location is perfect for you – why is the school the best you can hope for? What faculty is there that you really need access to?
Now – if I could do this, so can you!!!
All of this money (I got the final yes right before Christmas eve and it was a merry christmas indeed) ensures that we
- dont have to rent out our home while we are gone
- dont have to worry about covering our rent and car rental while in the US
- our tickets to the US are taken care of
- we are worry free, essentially!
Now, we would have gone to the US regardless, that is a fact, so just know, even if you dont get this money, no worries – you can still make it! First and foremost – we were going to rent out our home so that our mortgage was covered while we were gone! Secondly – as a visiting scholar from Norway to the US, you dont have to pay Norwegian taxes while you are gone – that is a GREAT thing 🙂 You only have to pay your social security tax in Norway – which then covers your health care in the US which is also great! Now – things would be tighter if we didnt get all these grants, but that is ok – we never thought we would get them, and were planning accordingly!