My name is Triwik and I am from Indonesia. I am currently studying for a master’s degree in Communication and Development Studies at Ohio University in the United States.
Many people ask me: “Do you pay for your study out of your own pocket?”
No, I don’t, because I received a scholarship. It means that I do not have to pay for the tuition fee. I also get a monthly stipend. I want to share my experiences in applying for scholarships abroad to all of you.
Studying abroad has been my childhood dream. It is not cheap to study in a foreign country. Therefore, I tried to get a scholarship to fund my study. My first experience applying for a scholarship was in 2011. I applied for a scholarship to do a two-month journalism training program in environmental reporting in Berlin, Germany.
To apply for the scholarship, I had to write a motivation letter stating the reasons why I wanted to apply for it. I also attached a resume, which listed my educational background and work experience.
The German embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, later invited me for an interview. The interviewer asked about my motivations in applying for the scholarship and my working experiences in dealing with environmental issues.
I got the scholarship! The German government paid for my round-trip airfare, accommodation, and transportation costs in Germany. It was a great opportunity to meet environmental experts and journalists from Asia, Africa, and Europe.
I later decided to apply for a scholarship to pursue a master’s degree. I wanted to increase my skills in communication and media. Since English is not my first language, I had to take either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) tests to prove that I could function in an English-speaking environment. I decided to take IELTS because the scholarships that I applied for required an IELTS score. I took the IELTS twice. My first IELTS score was 6.5. It was actually not bad. But I decided to take another one to increase my chance in getting a scholarship. The second time I took the IELTS, I got a 7.
In 2012, I applied for scholarships in the United Kingdom, Australia and Denmark. An institution in the U.K. invited me for an interview. However, I did not get the scholarship. I was very disappointed because I was one step closer to studying in the U.K. The disappointment grew even deeper when I did not get the scholarships in Australia and Denmark.
I did not give up. In 2013, I applied for five scholarships. One of them was a program to study in the U.S. funded by Fulbright. The Fulbright program is an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government. I sent the application forms, a motivation letter, and a resume. I also attached three reference letters from my employers and a former lecturer.
Fulbright invited me for an interview in Jakarta. There were three people interviewing me. They asked about my motivations in studying in the U.S., my chosen program and universities and my goals after finishing my study. A few weeks later, Fulbright offered me the scholarship!
But the process did not end there. I still had to take the TOEFL iBT (internet-based TOEFL) and GRE (Graduate Record Examination) tests to enroll in universities in the U.S. The GRE is an admission test for graduate school.
I studied hard for the tests. I had to juggle study and and my work at The Jakarta Post, an English-language daily newspaper based in Jakarta. I usually studied in the morning because I had to work in the afternoon. I also bought the TOEFL iBT and GRE study guides, which were expensive. I took the TOEFL iBT test twice because the first score was below the required standard. The second score was much better. The entire process – from sending application, doing an interview and taking English tests – took about eight months.
No pain, no gain. After going through the long process, I finally received an offer from Ohio University to do a two-year master’s degree in Communication and Development Studies. Fulbright paid for my flights, tuition and health insurance. It also gave me a monthly stipend.
Besides being able to study abroad for free, I also have the opportunity to work in the U.S. as an intern at Voice of America. I am excited to learn more about the media in the U.S. and on how international media works. I hope that this internship opportunity will enhance my communication skills and build a network that will be useful for my future career.
So, if you really want to study abroad and get an internship, go for it! If I can do it, you can do it!
If you are interested in studying in the U.S., you can log on to: http://educationusa.state.gov
Words in this story
tuition – n. the money that we should pay to go to school
stipend – n. a regular payment, as an allowance
eligible – n. qualified
enroll – v. register
juggle – v. to do several things at the same time
no pain, no gain – a motto which means that hard work will give you greater value