‘Invest Your Talent in Italy’…. and Leave Your Heart in Mantova

Flower seller in Mantova's market. Photo by author.

‘Invest Your Talent in Italy’ is a scholarship program only few have heard of. Our contributor, Aya, shares her story of landing the scholarship, studying in Politecnico di Milano, and falling in love with Mantova.

Chasing the Scholarship 

At some point, rejection does the justice. First rejection was definitely the worst. The second one, would still upset you – you’d keep asking: where did I do wrong? But when you reached the fifth or the sixth one, you would get to know the pattern, and find your own pace, gear up and start again chasing your dream. 

And that’s what happened to me. After failing my LPDP application, the good news I got from Politecnico di Milano (Polimi) felt like nothing. It wasn’t an offer I could defer, or something I could accept without financial fund. 

A corner of Mantova. Photo by Author.
A corner of Mantova. Photo by Author.

However, maybe, it was how it’s supposed to be. Whilst scrolling down my mailbox, one notification popped in, and suddenly all the impossible thing in the universe turned possible. 

I remembered, right after I got my letter of acceptance, Polimi informed me about this scholarship called Invest Your Talent in Italy (IYT). It’s designated for postgraduate courses in engineering, advanced technologies, architecture, design, economics and management with opportunity to work as an intern at Italian company. Back then, I didn’t even try to apply at the first place, because I had big hope for LPDP. When they said the deadline is extended for more 10 days, I was terrified. 

This is it, I thought. I registered immediately and only checking the requirements after, which I realized later that I need to make 1 minute video about myself as part of the application. Other documents they asked me to submit, almost 90% are similar with the one that Polimi had requested before, saved me some times to collect ideas for the video. 2016 was the first batch of this scholarship, so I had no one to ask around. My strategy was to complete all required documents and leave the video for the last. 

One of the required documents is LoA, which is mandatory if you’re applying any scholarship from Italy. During EHEF 2018, the representative of Polimi said that now you can also apply with the receipt certifying you’re currently waiting for the result from the university.

For more information, please check www.postgradinitaly.esteri.it because the application is currently open until January 31st 2019. There you can also find the list of universities covered by this scholarship and any other FAQs. Please be informed that there are many adjustments on the scholarship’s terms up to this point, like the age limit and scholarship renewal requirements. 

A corner of Mantova. Photo by Author.
A corner of Mantova. Photo by Author.

Some tips I would like to share, first, your video is not necessarily be edited in a very advanced way – I did mine with my phone for two days. What’s more important is the way you show your personality, motivation, sneak peek of your future plan after the study, and honesty. Second, searching for inspiration and asking the previous awardee about the video are okay, but I personally encourage you to not overdo it as it might  block your creativity. And third, once you got the scholarship, give all your best during the internship, who knows, your superior would ask you to return after you graduated, just like me! 

Mantova – A Gem in Lombardia 

When I was choosing where to pursue my master degree, I didn’t really choose the city, instead I focused on the course. What I knew back then, I wanted to study architecture and design in Italy, particularly in Polimi because its reputation. Only after I secured my scholarship, I did my research on the town I was going to study. 

I had no knowledge about Mantova, or Mantua, besides it was a place where Romeo had been exiled in Shakespeare’s renowned romantic tragedy. Other than that, it was like starting from a scratch especially when there was not much information neither on the web because when they’re talking about Italy they only mentioned about Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, or Tuscany. 

A corner of Mantova. Photo by Author.
A corner of Mantova. Photo by Author.

What greeted me on my first day there was beyond words. I got used to – stressed and suffocated, as well – the crowd of the capital. The traffics, noises, and speeds were my daily supply. On the contrary, Mantova is very calm, chill and toned down. Some might be astonished and a bit disappointed, but for me, it felt like healing trip. 

Forget Milan with its metropolitan vibes, forget Rome with its touristic spots, Mantova is just a perfect combination of culture and history, a plain reward for my cultured-shocked mind back then. It is home of architectural gems such as Basilica Sant’Andrea and Palazzo Ducale Mantova, which is more than perfect for my study, Master in Architecture Design and History. 

Living there for more than two years let me learn to not judge book by its cover. Sure it’s not all convenient like in my hometown or Jakarta or any other Italian big cities, but with zen and lovely hidden parks, authentic coffee shops with its pastry’s options, and huge lake only five minutes walking from the city center that serving you nice view 365 days a year, Mantova deserves more appreciation. 

The Italian Grandma you’re looking for? 25 steps away from the university with cappuccino or chocolate waiting for you. It’s a very small city – finished in one day exploration as one of my friend said – so it was very hard to find someone who speaks English. Rather than seeing this as an obstacle, I saw it as an opportunity to improve my 0-level Italian. One to keep in mind, you’re not the only international student there. Lots of people also trying and struggling, but helping each other, studying together, sharing our culture to the table, and spending time with them did give me home away from home. 

While searching for postgraduates, don’t look for fancy places to study, well, it’s okay, you can do that, but also open yourself for unknown adventure. I only asked for scholarship and a chance to study, see what I have at the moment? Working experience in Italy, self-improvement, and priceless friendship. 

So, what are you waiting for? :) 

P.S.: Italy is not that expensive if you want to study there and pay by yourself! 

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Dimitria Intan Prasraya Dimitria Intan Prasraya Duhita
Dimitria Intan Prasraya Duhita, or Aya, was born and raised in Jogjakarta. Aya graduated from Universitas Gadjah Mada’s Architecture department. After that, Aya moved to Jakarta and worked as a professional architect. In 2016, Aya joined ‘Invest Your Talent in Italy’ program where she continued her study in Architecture Design and History in Politecnico di Milano — Campus Mantova. During the program, Aya interned at COPRAT Soc Coop as well. Aya currently resides in Jakarta.