An opportunity of a lifetime. That’s what Gillian Grant was looking for when she applied to Fulbright Canada’s Killam Fellowship Program. Grant, a fourth year business student majoring in accounting, is spending the semester on exchange at Clemson University in Clemson, S.C.
Fulbright Canada’s Killam Fellowship Program provides a unique opportunity for students to travel to a partnering university in the United States and study there for either a semester or full year. This is one of the reasons Grant decided to apply. “I thought it was a really unique opportunity, and I didn’t think I’d have a chance like this to study in the states otherwise,” says Grant. “It’s a great way to learn about new cultures, and new ways of approaching education.”
It didn’t hurt that her roommate at the time was last year’s Acadia Killam Fellow, Abbey Friars. “My roommate last year was a Killam Fellow. She studied at the University of Maine and loved it so much she decided to transfer there,” says Grant. “She convinced me to apply and I’m so glad I did. I’ve met so many new people and experience new things and learned a lot about what I want to do afterwards.”
Grant chose Clemson partially because of location and partially to gain an educational experience completely different than the one she receives at Acadia. “I picked Clemson because of its location. I wanted to be in the Southeastern United States. It’s near a lot of big cities, so there’s a lot of places I can travel while I’m at Clemson,” says Grant. Adding, “I was interested in going to a big school. I wanted to do something different than what I’d done at Acadia.”
And different it is. “It’s been wonderful so far. It’s very different than expected, but it’s been good,” she says. Clemson’s student population of 23,000 is six times bigger than that of Acadia. Grant says some of her classes have 700 students in them. “Walking into a class with 700 students is so overwhelming. It makes you realize you really are just a number,” she says. “I’ve never felt that at Acadia.”
Coming on this exchange extended Grant’s degree by a semester. However, she’s thankful for the opportunity it’s provided her. “The classes I need to graduate I have to take at Acadia, so I’m taking classes like History of Country Music, History of Religion in the United States, Human Sexual Behavior and Landscape Architecture,” she says. “They’re so different than what I studied at Acadia, but they’re really giving me a better understanding of American culture and southern society and their values. I’m really grateful that I’m not taking business courses because I’m taking special interest courses that allow me to learn more about the people I’m surrounded by.”
The courses she says have helped shape what she wants to do in the future. “I took these classes because I was interested in them, but now I realize they might shape the course I take once I graduate,” Grant says. Originally wanting to pursue a career as an accountant, Grant says she is now thinking about a career in tax law and policy that focuses on marginalized people, “Being here has really opened my mind up to pursuing a more global career.”
While Grant is thankful for the different learning environment, she is also excited about the social atmosphere. “I was incredibly excited to come to Clemson because of their Football program,” she says. “Football here is like homecoming at Acadia but 10 times bigger and its every other Saturday. The whole town shuts down on those days. You can get in to town but you can’t leave. All of the roads are closed.”
Aside from watching football, Grant has joined a number of different clubs on campus including rowing, tennis, and the recreational sailing team. “Not being in an environment where I study all the time, I can take that time to go hit a few balls on the tennis court or go sailing on a Sunday afternoon,” she says.