A Year in the Fulbright Life: Arwa’s Story

January 2021:

The best experience I had was during winter break. After finishing my submissions and exams for the fall semester I visited the many historic and iconic buildings in Chicago, and the areas around it. As an architect in a city like Chicago, the great architecture and art scenes are an advantage. I got the chance to see buildings designed by my favorite architects. I went to see the S.R Crown Hall, designed by Mies Van Der Rohe, which is considered one of the most significant buildings of the 20th-century modernist movement. I also visited the Frederick C. Robie House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. In addition to many more outstanding buildings and towers that I saw downtown, and many unique structures and artworks like the Bean, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, and the Nature Boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo. I am still learning and seeing something new every time and will continue to do this until the end of my time here in Chicago. I am positive that I will have great experiences, intriguing memory of these places, and a background of all architectural masterpieces. The scenes are indeed very enriching, and there are many more places yet to discover.

September 2021

One of my goals as an architect was to visit as many construction sites as possible to learn innovative construction methods, especially since I am living in Chicago — a hub for some of the best architecture that has influenced design globally. Therefore, I participated in construction tours and workshop conferences led by the AIA (American Institute of Architects), where I had the chance to listen to some of the best project managers and constructors on-site. It was a great experience! I learned a lot from both the workshops and the site visits, and I aim to visit more before I finish my program.

October 2021

Besides the wonderful cultural and academic experiences Fulbright brings, it also promises intriguing visual and spatial experiences. Being a Fulbrighter in Chicago is a unique opportunity, especially for an architect. The beauty of the city’s skyline is that it is continuously changing. You can see the city’s translucent skyscrapers as they reflect the colors of the environment, especially in the fall, where it gives striking visual stimuli that intrigue your brain and body. I couldn’t wait for October to see this transformation in Lincoln Park, which was a scene worth waiting for.

November 2021

It’s that time of the year again for preparing for finals and project deadlines, sitting in my school’s laboratory, and printing important papers for my Critique Week. As a graduate student, you aim to balance your social life and grad school requirements, and it’s okay not to be motivated all the time. I think persistence is the key, and you shouldn’t rely on your “good mood days” to do your work.

December 2021

Over my winter break, I took a trip across California’s gorgeous cities. I flew out of Chicago and began my journey at Pahrump, Nevada in the desert. As I went up Zabriskie Point, I felt like I was walking through a painting with numerous layers of gorgeous landscapes and mesmerizing views.

January 2022

On a foggy winter day in Chicago when the temperatures dropped and the river froze over, I decided to try ice skating in Millenium Park with some friends. With the Bean reflecting the city’s skyscrapers, the whiteness of the snowy ground, and the fogginess of the atmosphere, the park was stunning. However, walking along the frozen Chicago River is a completely different experience. It had a distinct beauty that inspired me to photograph waterscapes.

March 2022

During my spring break, I took the opportunity to visit New York City, including Little Island at Pier 55 and the Vessel in the heart of Manhattan which were both designed by the renowned Thomas Heatherwick. I also had the chance to see many other New York City landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, the Empire State Building, the High Line, and many others. After this quick trip, I returned to Chicago feeling energized and motivated to continue working on my thesis. I think a balance of work and play is essential, and as a Fulbrighter, you will have many opportunities ahead of you. I also really enjoyed getting to know different people in cities all over the United States. I also really enjoyed getting to know different people in cities all over the United States.

April 2022

On a random weekend following my midterm exams, I decided to go on a road trip to Mount Rainier National Park, also known as Paradise. With its immersive layers of fog, mountains, snow, and wildlife, this natural landmark is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in the United States. It was a beautiful, calming, and healing environment.

May 2022

It has been a great pleasure and honor to be a Fulbrighter at one of the best design schools in the United States. I am proud to say that after two years, I graduated with distinction from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Master of Architecture IA degree. My time in the United States has been beyond rewarding; I have gained life-changing experiences, connections, and friends. I also met some of the best professors, mentors, and architects during my time here. I am grateful for this opportunity and am so happy with the decision I made two years ago to apply for the program. I am honored to now be a Fulbright alumna.

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