Advice for FLTAs
Congratulations on being selected as an Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA)! We are looking forward to hosting you in the Department of African Cultural Studies this year. This page offers some advice for you on what to expect during your year with us, based on our work with many FLTAs over the years and with some additions from past FLTAs.
What to expect on campus
The week before the Fall semester begins ("welcome week"), you will participate in compulsory training for teaching assistants and other orientation programs organized by International Student Services. Visit http://iss.wisc.edu/ for more information.
In the Fall semester, in addition to your FLTA duties, which vary depending on your language, you will audit (sit in on) two courses:
- African 703: Topics in Pedagogy. Your supervisor will arrange for permission to audit this course.
- an American culture course. See below for instructions on how to choose a course.
In the Spring semester, you can choose to sit in on two courses that are academic in nature.
Before you leave home
- Contact your supervisor, Dr. Katrina Daly Thompson, by email.
- Look online for an American culture course that interests you. You can use this website to search for relevant courses. Change the term to the current Fall and enter a keyword such as “American” or “America” or “United States.” Look primarily in History, English, or the ethnic studies departments (e.g. Afro-American studies). Let Dr. Thompson know what your top choices are so she can contact the instructors on your behalf and get permission for you to sit in.
- Find a place to live in Madison.
Finding housing in Madison
Campus housing is available at Eagle Heights and University Houses. You will need to work with the department to complete all paperwork before you can apply for on-campus housing.
You may like to apply to live in a "coop" (cooperative housing) very near to campus. The advantage of this is that you can live near campus and pay a relatively low rent. The members of most coops form a sort of community. Each coop has its own identity and philosophy. Some have a religious affiliation, but most do not. The members of a coop usually have responsibilities such as preparing meals for the group on a rotational basis, cleaning parts of the house (assigned shores shared equitably). Here are three different kinds of coops:
For more privacy, there are apartments near campus. It is more expensive than a coop and would probably not give you as much of a chance to meet others. Many people search for apartments through Craig's List: If you rent, you will only want a lease up through the end of May. That is sometimes tricky. That is why it may be more practical to look for a sublet (as for example through Craig's List).
On Craig's list, you can search for an individual apartment, a room for rent (more affordable), or a roommate (with whom you'll look for an apartment):
You can also search online through the classified ads of the Isthmus:
You could also try the classified ads of the Madison State Journal (which are a bit more expensive):
The following are links to associations that offer affordable housing:
The Tenant Resource Center provides help finding housing (Housing Help Desk) and legal information for renters:
Although it would be best to find housing before you arrive, it may be easier to do so once you are here. If that becomes necessary, you will need temporary housing for the first few days you are here. You can apply online for temporary housing:
What to carry on the plane
Make sure you pack essentials in your carry-on bag because luggage can get delayed. In your carry-on bag, pack those items that you will need to use during your journey such as:
- Your passport, DS 2019, the itinerary, the admission letter, and other personal documents.
- Your laptop, phone
- Some cash in US dollars in case you need to buy something to eat on the way
- A change of clothes and toiletries
In your checked bag(s):
- Materials that represent your culture such as traditional clothes, shoes, dancing costumes, etc
- Don’t carry many formal clothes. In Madison people like dressing casually. You could carry one formal outfit just in case you will have a very official function to attend.
- You will want to have at least one or two jackets/sweaters with you. It will be late summer/early fall and the temperatures indoors and outdoors can vary greatly.
- Teaching materials such as music, charts, children’s books, videos, etc.
- Some gifts for your students; you might want to appreciate a student for good performance or participation.
- Previous FLTAs have suggested bringing a few snacks from home to help while you look for places to find the best options for food here.
- See more ideas on what to bring on MSU’s FLTA orientation website.
Day to day life in Madison
- If possible, learn how to ride a bike before coming. Many people use bicycles to get around. You can buy one here or rent them for short trips.
- When you go shopping, note that the price on the price tag of an item doesn’t include tax. Tax is 5.5% of the price on most things, except for food in the grocery store. Budget properly to avoid inconveniences.
- If a friend asks you out for a cup of tea or for lunch, don’t expect him/her to pay for you just because s/he invited you. Everybody pays their own bills.
- For restaurant service you receive, give a tip in addition to the actual bill. Tip is usually 15% of the bill.
- In case of a life-threatening emergency, call 911 for help.
- To buy groceries and other shopping, ask other students in the department about where you can find good deals (on things like phones, winter coats, boots, etc) or perhaps food from your home country.
Other tips from former FLTAs
- Attend all classes or meetings on time. If you are not able to attend a class for some reason, it’s always polite to write an email to the instructor prior to class time.
- Speak to your advisor when you are stuck or in case of any problem regarding your work.
- Feel free to ask for help when you need it. People are always ready to help.
- It is easy to get lost in a new environment, so learn to ask as soon as you notice that you have lost your way. People are so friendly in Madison.