August 21, 2015, by International students
“See what I’ve told you. If it is meant to be, it will happen.”
Since I completed my undergraduate degree, I have always desired to study abroad. It is not only because the quality of the education or because of the prestige. I also believe that living in a totally new place with a lot of unfamiliar things will allow us to develop ourselves.
I started applying to various universities in Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, and France and hunted for scholarship since 2009, until finally I had accepted in a university in France in 2012 with a partial scholarship. Unfortunately due to my employment status, I couldn’t continue my study that year. So, I deferred the offer for 2013 intake. Since I got accepted and I thought I already met all of the requirements, I applied for visa close to my departure date, about 2 months before the semester begin. I submitted all of the requirements that I already prepared one year before to Campus France, the French national agency for the promotion of higher education, international student services, and international mobility. Unfortunately, the French Government changed its visa regulations. All students, even those who were applying for international programme which is taught in English must have DELF certificate – French proficiency qualification – at least in B2 level. It was a big surprise for me. Thus, due to time constraints, I couldn’t join any language preparation nor register for the test.
After 3 years quest and two consecutive year of failure in pursuing my dream, I started to think that perhaps I should stop. Maybe I would be more needed in my own country. Maybe with my current role and capability, I could give more for others. So, I stopped browsing for any information about master program and scholarship and shut my dream off until one day, two of my friends, who are also scholarship hunters, told me, “Lets apply for Chevening Scholarships!” They persuaded me to apply. They said that since I had already got an IELTS result with sufficient result and I already had all the relevant documents translated into English. I was more prepared than them. Initially, I had no interest at all but then I thought why not try it as a last shot?
From the Mastersportal website (www.mastersportal.eu), I found three universities with good rankings that offered programmes that I was interested in. Early November 2013, I applied for the programme and also the Chevening Scholarship. By the end of November, I got an offer letter from The University of Nottingham while the other two universities replied in December 2013 and January 2014. On February, I got the letter from Chevening, announcing that I was not granted the scholarship. Well, without the scholarship I could not afford to finance my study. I got mixed feelings: a part of me questioning ‘was it really not meant to be?’ while the other part of me thought I was already halfway. Unintentionally, I just browsed the scholarships that are available from the university. I just tried my luck and applied it on March 2014. I got a technical problem when I was about to submit my scholarship application. Luckily, the staff from the International Office were very helpful. They successfully fixed the problem long before the scholarship closing date.
An email came from Scholarship-Assistant (firstname.lastname@example.org) in June informing me that I was granted the ASEAN Masters Scholarship. The email really boosted my hope and confidence. After I accepted the scholarship, I almost spent all day browsing The University of Nottingham website to find information about accommodation, living cost, and get insights about the life in Nottingham. I was very curious with my future campus.
From all of information on the UoN website, I booked accommodation, registered for the International Welcome Week and coach pick-up, uploaded photo for my ID card. I did all of those thing online. It was very convenient for me who lives miles away from UK. I also got an invitation email for pre-departure briefing in Jakarta from Poh Wan Cheang, an International Officer for South East Asia. Because I was working in a different city, I could not attend the session. However, she still sent me the presentation slides for my reference.
Alongside that invitation, she also notified me about pre-departure meet and greet that was organised by the Indonesian Society. This time I could attend it because the meeting date was close to my UK visa interview schedule. I met new friends, future students who also had no clue on how life in Nottingham would be, and some IndoSoc members and alumni. Both students and alumni were very helpful, they gave us insights about living in Nottingham from how to find an accommodation off campus, where to find Asian herb and specific items in Asian stores, what to bring and so many other things that I can no longer remember.
Although everything was set, there still one piece that need to be sorted. Visa! Due to high visa application requests, most of the sessions were fully occupied. Although I had applied in July 2014, I got the interview and biometric session less than 1 month before the departure date. Due to former experience of visa problem, this time I was very anxious. On my interview date, the staff told me because it was high season for visa application, most probably the visa decision would be delayed and my passport would arrive later than my planned departure date. She also offered a priority service where I could get the visa back within 3-5 working days. I decided to use this service and paid more. I got more anxious when I still did not get a notification email 5 days after my interview. Even though I did not get the email, I decided to go to VFS to check it. Unfortunately, it was not there yet and I have to wait for the notification email first. I really could not sleep well that night.
Finally I received the notification email next day after lunch time. Instead of feeling relieved, I got even more nervous. Am I ready if my visa application is failed? Around 3pm I went to the Visa Office. The staff cut the envelope and gave my passport to me. Thank God!! It’s there. Yellowish paper was adhered on one page of my passport. I checked the data and confirmed to the staff that everything was ok then headed back home. My step was very light. On the way back home, my aunt called me asking about the result. Once I told her my visa was granted, she said “See what I’ve told you. If it is meant to be, it will happen.” After the call, I remembered that all the process to go to UoN seemed smooth and quite easy. I could not agree more with my aunt. Now, here I am, in the middle of my final battle, my dissertation. Time really does fly. One year ago, I was busy to get here. Now I am almost ready to leave this beautiful city.