Achieving A Master’s Degree Through Years of Studying and Working Abroad

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It is not easy to get accepted for a master’s degree abroad. It takes a whole lot of courage and effort, but in the end, it is all worth it. In this article, Adinda Soediono tells her story of how studying abroad in both Malaysia and Australia in her undergraduate years, and working in Singapore for four years helped her to achieve her dreams of pursuing a master’s degree.

“Your competition is no longer at a national level, your competition is currently on a global level, so you will need to ensure that you equip yourself with great skills and knowledge and good attitude,” that’s what my dad said to his students during one of his lectures. Those are the lines that have inspired me.

 

Growing up in a family that always encourage to dream big and work hard to achieve it, I developed dream of studying abroad since young age. At the beginning, I had a dream to study in Australia for my bachelor’s degree. However, the tuition fee was expensive, so I sought for other alternatives. Some of the Australian university had opened other campuses, one of them was Monash University, which has another campus in Malaysia.  Eventually, I enrolled there. Despite of this, I still had a dream to study in Australia. I was informed that there would be an exchange program to the Melbourne campus for a year.  Therefore, I took the opportunity and I was selected as one of the participants of the exchange program.

 

I must say that studying abroad changed me significantly. I was a quiet person, who did not really know how to socialize and make friends. However, living all on my own inevitably developed my social skills. My English was also improving. Another important thing that I learned was to get to know people from diverse cultures. It is interesting to observe that people from diverse backgrounds might have different opinions and different perspectives. I learned that there was no right and wrong answer, sometimes it was just a matter of point of view.

 

During the period of my study for Bachelor’s degree, I studied very hard to obtain good grades to open my opportunity obtaining scholarships for further study.  I would like to continue my study without burdening my parents.

 

The work hard paid off as I obtained good result and obtained Dean’s Honor. After completing my study, just like any other fresh graduates, I was looking for a job. I returned to Indonesia and started to apply in banks and accounting firms. Suddenly, a classmate who worked in one of the big four accounting firms in Singapore at that time contacted me and she informed me that currently there was a job opening. She told me about the salary and that it was possible to save up there. I have always dreamt to be able to be financially independent after I graduated from university, and this of course, could help me realize it. After rounds of interviews and test, I got the job. It was exciting, but also frightening at the same time, as I could not imagine how would my life be in Singapore.

 

Working in Singapore was not easy. I worked in a team of 20 people. The team was very multicultural, it was a mixture of people from Australia, Germany, Netherlands, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Indonesia, and Canada. I experienced culture shock as I grew up not to be outspoken, as compared to the rest of the team, who were raised in Western countries. Other than the culture shock, the transition from university life to corporate life was not easy, and I worked in an environment which expected everything to be perfect. In addition, a big part of my job involved English business writing skills. English is not my mother tongue, and despite my ability in writing and speaking casual English, I had no skill in English Business Writing. My supervisors were not happy, and they said to me that my writing was not good enough and since I was not outspoken and tended to be quiet (as I didn’t feel confident), they were not sure that I understood my job. I had very tough time adapting to the job and new environment. I was very stressed at that time, almost deciding to give up and returning home. I was fortunate that I had my family as my dedicated support system. They always encouraged me not to give up and this was a good experience that would form me into a strong person.

 

With the support from them, I aimed to improve myself and showed that I could do my job and proved that they were wrong. Through step by step, I improved my English skill through reading more English books and articles, and studied the material related to work in an attempt to enhance my technical skill. It involves a significant amount of challenging work and there were several times that I felt like I wanted to give up. Four months after that, my mentor mentioned that they were happy with my improvements and performance.  I felt much better after that. However, I did not quite like the life in Singapore, due to the pressure of work and being far from friends and family.

 

I still had a dream of pursuing a Master’s degree and to be able to finance it independently. Certainly I looked for scholarships, however, I also needed to work out other alternatives if I did not obtain it. Eventually, I decided to apply for a Master’s degree in the Netherlands focusing on tax economics. I applied for a few scholarships. I finally obtained partial scholarships for academic excellence due to my outstanding academic result. As I had savings accumulated during the four years of working in Singapore, I could financially fund the remaining of the living cost and tuition fee and I finally realized my dream!

 

In the end, I survived for almost four years working in Singapore. I must say, holding on to my dream, that is to pursue master’s degree independently in terms of financial, was what made me able to go through tough times.

 

One year of study in Netherlands was another great and precious adventure. I got to know people from Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Ukraine, Brazil, China, South Africa, Greece among others. Not only I gained technical knowledge and a cum laude, but I also obtained international networks, friendships, experience and precious times.

 

As I looked back, it is important to build your dreams, work hard for it and hold on to it. This will provide you strength during tough time. The journey to achieve your dreams is also beautiful. You will be forced to step out of your comfort zone that enrich yourself, and you will meet wonderful people along the way. Some will test you, some will teach you a lesson, some will lead you to the path that you never imagine. Studying abroad is not for show-off, but it will expose you to a priceless experience, such as to learn how to become independent, appreciate people from diverse backgrounds who have different perspectives, and these different perspectives help you to appreciate the world even more.

 

Don’t ever give up on your dreams!

 

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Adinda Soediono
Adinda works as a Manager in International Tax field at one of the big four accounting firms in Indonesia. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree specializing in Accounting and Banking and finance from Monash University. She earned her Master’s Degree specializing in International Business Tax Economics (cum laude) from Tilburg University, the Netherlands under partial scholarship from the university. She previously worked in Singapore as an auditor and a international tax consultant in big four accounting firms.