Photo Credit: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2009/11/ironman-florida-finish-line-at-midnight.html

The Prize: A Reminder When The Way To Scholarship Is Long And Winding

Have you ever seen the show America’s Next Top Model (ANTM)?

If you haven’t, ANTM is an American reality television series and interactive competition in search of “America’s Next Top Model”. Thousands of women from all over America would send their pictures to this show and they are sorted into only 10-14 contestants. These contestants will then compete to be the winner. In each episode, after the contestants have worked hard to give their best, they all would stand in front of the judging panel. What I want to highlight here is that, every time they reach this stage, Tyra Banks, the producer and the host of the show, would remind them the prizes that they get if they win the competition. The main prize is usually a modeling contract worth thousands of dollars. You can see their beaming faces as Ms. Banks talk about it. It lifts up their spirit all over again.

Some of you may have reached your final point when it comes to scholarship searching. You want it so bad, you have applied, but failed. Just like I did, maybe some of you start to wonder if this particular dream of yours would ever come true.

Don’t give up just yet. I’m here to remind you of the prize. Remember, if everything was easy, nothing would be worth it.

***

1. Analytical skill improvement.

The learning process that I had to do in NOVA Community College wasn’t the same as it was in University of Indonesia. I took some Sociology classes that pushed me to think through some theories and reflect them on my beliefs. It was not easy at all because I was used to just taking in theories and memorize them–not necessarily knowing why I should agree or disagree with them. After making it through this process, I felt like being “reborn”.” Claudia Hutagalung, CCI scholarship grantee to Northern Virginia Community College, USA.

2. WOW factor in your resume.

The perks for me is that I think in Indonesia, it gives u some sort of ‘WOW’ factor especially when you apply for a job.” – Stella Marie Gunawan, CCI scholarship grantee to Kapiolani Community College, Hawaii, USA.

…and I personally have experienced how studying abroad has helped advance my career back home. Companies immediately expect ‘miraculous’ things from us just because not everyone is given a chance to study abroad for free – and that’s not a bad thing.

3. A mind-opening experience that you will carry for the rest of your life.

“The most important one is the ability to set the world in wider angle than just your circle of community, and country. Being immersed directly to a different culture with new way of doing things and new values in society. You can’t help but to be challenged, try to adapt, and at the end of the process you widen your sphere of knowledge in life in general. If one takes time to soak themselves in their new environment, they would be surprised by how far they have grown personally. In many cases international student matured by leaps and bounds. And this is an asset we need in current global society and the era of the Internet when people no longer limited by boundaries of geography.” Adri M. Simamora, former MBA Student at Nyenrode Business University, Netherlands.

The experience can turn out to be a humbling one, realizing that there are other people on the other side of the world who do things differently, and it’s not wrong. It’s just different. They don’t want to be judged as much as we don’t. So we just need to be open-minded and be kind to one another because we share this planet.

4. The life-long friendship from all over the world.

It also creates a life-long friendship. I still keep in touch with some of my friends in the USA including you. Probably in the years to come, I will cross a path again with you and other international friends.” Novatus Kwe, CCI scholarship grantee to St. Louis Community College, Missouri, USA.

One enemy is too many, a thousand friends are too few.

5. Being an unofficial Indonesian ambassador.

“Because we’re international student, we always have a different perspective in discussions since we come from a very different culture and system. Our ideas can really enrich the discussion process.” Herni Ramdlaningrum, current post-grad student at The Australian National University, Australia.

Je suis Indonesien.” – Mochamad Ridwan, 2012 Swedish Institute Study Scholarship grantee.

Nothing is more fun than promoting our culture when we are abroad. The look of people’s face when we’re explaining ‘how we roll’ back home (ok ok. I have to admit. Sometimes I make it up for my own advantages. Haha), our national language that we use to express this and that, sharing Indonesian’s famous hospitality… having our mind opened by new cultures is as fun as being a mind-opener for other cultures. Je suis Indonesien.

And this is the fun part,

6. A chance to meet a possible love of your life.

Studying abroad or being an international student is a life experience I treasure so much! You might meet the love of your life during your study, sort of like killing two birds with one stone. It didn’t happen to me, but it happened to some of my friends.  Nevertheless, I had a good time in the States.” Ardy Nugraha, CCI scholarship grantee to St. Louis Community College, Missouri, USA.

I’m so glad somebody brought this up! According to me, who is a hopeless romantic, this is the most fun part. Well, I met my husband during my college year in the States.  I know some friends did, too! (Not my husband. I mean, different guys. Come on.) But this romance part is what keeps your weekend colorful as an international student, and a legend to pass on to your children and your children’s children – whether it works out or not! Just as Ardy said, nevertheless, you’ll have a good time!

***

I just finished unpacking my baggage that summer afternoon and was about to take a walk around my apartment complex. This is the apartment that my scholarship program has put me in. I still couldn’t believe I made it to America: the land of the free and the home of the brave.

All those nights where I worked on my essays for the scholarship applications, those seeds my mom has planted by sending me to get some more English lessons, the pain in my heart when I failed to get the scholarship the first year, all of them seem to be paid off. I hardly could remember how it felt anymore.

The sweat and the pain you might feel during the process can’t compare to the joy that’s coming. Keep your eyes on the prize, it will be worth it.

Content edited by Artricia Rasyid 

Photo Credit: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2009/11/ironman-florida-finish-line-at-midnight.html




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Kitty Sitompul-Nieman is an award winning intercultural professional with a blend of experiences in teaching, writing, interpreting, and public speaking in international and diverse platforms. A Fulbright scholarship grantee for the Community College International Development program, Kitty has eight years of experience in English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching and management, as well as three years experience in Indonesian-English consecutive and simultaneous interpretation. She currently lives in Lexington, Kentucky, USA with her husband, Clay Nieman. They both enjoy hanging out at Buffalo Wild Wings. More of her writings can be found at her personal blog www.KittySitompul.wordpress.com.
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