Study Abroad is a new section in my website Dream Explore Wander as I want to share some of my study abroad experiences to people out there.
A little background. I studied abroad twice. I spent 4.5 years in the UK, during my primary school and high school. This was my first experience of studying in a new country. My second experience happened just recently, I was admitted into a Masters programme called Erasmus Mundus Data Mining & Knowledge Management where I spent two years in three European countries.
Now, how did I manage to go abroad and study? Well, the answer is scholarship. I studied in the UK because my dad received scholarship for his Ph.D study and I received a full scholarship to study my Masters degree in Europe. Honestly, without scholarship I would never have gone abroad.
When I meet people, friends and strangers, they mostly ask the same thing. How did you manage to get a scholarship? Where can I find this information? Do you have any website you can refer?
Well, I decided to make the answers available in my website so that people can share them.
When I moved to the UK, I was 10 years old, a popular girl at my Indonesian primary school in the small town of Salatiga. I loved my school, I knew all my teachers, I had a bunch of friends and I was really comfortable where I was. Then one day, my dad told my sister and I that we were going to move…to the UK. Pfft! There goes my life, I thought at that time. The UK? Isn’t that where people DON’T speak Indonesian? I was scared, I didn’t understand what “trying something new” was and I certainly didn’t want to “step out of my comfort zone”. Fast forward to now, I’m glad my parents dragged me to the UK. It was hard at first to adjust, to learn the language but I was lucky to have this kind of experience at such a young age.
Ever since I went back from the UK, I turned into a scholarship hunter. I was craving for more adventure like the one I had before, but this time I wanted it to have that adventure by myself. The education experience I got from the UK changed my perspective, opened my mind and taught me a lot of things that I have never heard of in Indonesia. I decided to spend my high school and bachelor in Indonesia. Though during my bachelor I also tried to apply for some scholarships, none of them was accepted. I’m glad I wasn’t accepted, I wouldn’t trade the friends and experience I had during my bachelor years with anything else in the world. After I graduated I thought “This is it! I’m going to apply for a scholarship and get it!” – I didn’t, again I received a lot of rejections. Instead I worked as a programmer for 2.5 years at an insurance company in Jakarta.
Facing rejections over and over again made me stronger and I always believe that rejection happens for a reason. Again, my working experience in the big city gave me so many great friends and experience I would never have gained at a school environment.
Finally in 2011, my hard work paid off. I was accepted with full scholarship at a European Masters programme. I was ecstatic.
Here’s the thing about studying abroad. Some people think it’s all about living in a “better” country with a lot of free time to travel. It is not. If you decide to study abroad, make sure you know your goal. My goal was to learn something new in an environment out of my comfort zone. I wanted to be immersed in a new culture, meeting new friends from all over the world while learning a new subject from the best universities. I was very picky choosing my subject, I didn’t want to just pick any subject just for the sake of going abroad. The Erasmus Mundus caught my attention since the subject, data mining, was new and fresh with the possibilities of living in several countries. I loved the concept, which was why I applied.
Pick the right subject for your study, make sure you know the expectations and it’s within your interest. Ask yourself why you want to study abroad, make sure the answer makes sense!
Some people think it’s magic that I had the chance to study abroad. I have been hunting for a scholarship since my bachelor, it is certainly not magic. While my friends spent their money on clothes and bags, I spent mine on internet connection (which was rare back then!) and sending application letters abroad (which was expensive since I had to use express mail). I went to a numerous education fair, talked to a lot of institutions, applied to many scholarships (and got rejected), accepted to several great universities but had to decline since they didn’t offer scholarships – so no it is NOT magic.
There is no easy way to get a scholarship. It’s a lot of hardwork and sometimes you think you’ve done everything and yet no result. There were times when I just gave up but determination was what kept me going.
Here are some scholarship info that might be useful for you:
Erasmus Mundus (Erasmus Mundus is a five year programme scholarship, but check their website for extended scholarship offers)
Also look into each individual university, they might have scholarships. If you are able to pay a portion of the tuition many universities (like in the UK) usually offer partial scholarship, so also look into that.
DO apply into several scholarships programme! It is completely normal to have several options.
DON’T apply to programmes that are out of your interest, choose options according to what you want.
At the end of the day, studying abroad is not for everyone. Don’t think of only going there for the fun or the travel, remember the most important aspect is the studying. Once you have that goal on your mind, think of the places you want to study and live in for the next years. If you have the right goals, I promise you it will be a lot of fun.
If you have any more scholarship info leave a comment below! If you find this information useful, do share them!