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Education is the Best Investment: My Overseas Learning Journey​

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Josephine Lenny

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Education is the Best Investment: My Overseas Learning Journey

Penulis adalah tenaga pendidik yang mengajar mata pelajaran Bahasa Inggris Wajib dan Peminatan di SMA Santo Paulus Pontianak. Penulis menyelesaikan studi S-1 di FKIP Bahasa Inggris Universitas Tanjungpura pada tahun 2005 dan S-2 bidang TESOL di Faculty of Education di University of Nottingham, Inggris Raya pada tahun 2018. Saat ini penulis juga merupakan anggota Mata Garuda Kalbar dan merupakan peserta aktif Program Pendidikan Guru Penggerak Kota Pontianak Angkatan 1. Penulis gemar melakukan perjalanan, membaca buku, menonton film, dan bersosialisasi. Penulis percaya bahwa melalui literasi yang berkelanjutan, karakter mulia, dan budi pekerti luhur, dapat disemai guna meraih kompetensi unggul para peserta didik demi pembangunan bangsa Indonesia yang berkelanjutan. Penulis dapat dihubungi melalui email josephinelenny@yahoo.com atau georgiajosephinelenny@gmail.com.
Looking forward to living and studying abroad? What is it like to set foot for the first time in a country that you have been dreaming of? How do you feel when you wake up in a new country? I had been having these thoughts years ago and up to a day before I left Indonesia for the United Kingdom, a country which I had been longing for to visit since I was at high school. Living in the UK seemed to be a dream that never came true to me because I needed a large number of financial resources, which I could not possibly afford even though I had been working for so many years! Would the lack of financial support stop my dreams? I had to admit that at a certain point I was half way to my ultimate despair after having had endeavoured to compete for some prestigious scholarships but to no avail. Nevertheless, I came across an anonymous saying that everyone has their own time zone either the slow or fast ones and surprisingly I have found it true enough; therefore, in order to inspire and motivate you, I would love to share my journey to University of Nottingham in the UK and my experience during my stay. Feel free to judge them, yet I do hope my experiences will be a bit of help to you whenever you need some.
Dare to dream and have courage and faith to make it happen!

Scholarship Process

I began to prepare myself in July 2016 to meet requirements of LPDP scholarship. I had to take IELTS, write three essays, go through medical checks, get recommendation letters, and apply to the university for a letter of acceptance. After the documents were completed, I submitted them online for LPDP’s administration selection in October 2016. I managed to meet the qualification of administration selection, so I proceeded to the scholarship   interview in Balikpapan in November 2016. On the 9th December 2016, finally I made my way for real to the UK as I was officially one of LPDP awardees! As time went by, an orientation program and departure briefing in Wisma Hijau in Depok were provided to all awardees of LPDP on the 27th February to the 3rd March 2017. It was a great chance to me to meet all of greatly dedicated awardees and learn from them. We all promised to ourselves and to Indonesia that we would strive for the betterment of Indonesia through our studies!

The Beginning of My Journey

September 2017 was quite an intense month to me because I could count my days left in my hometown up to my departure to the UK, yet all my work at school had to be accomplished by the time I left, not to mention my packing, study preparation and accommodation deals. I was totally in chaos and under panic attack! The thought of leaving my hometown soon for long also added to my anxiety. I couldn’t believe that I would finally experience a new life as a total stranger in a country I used to dream of. On the 15th September 2017, I embarked on my longest journey that took me 16 hours in total: Pontianak-Jakarta-Istanbul-London-Nottingham. Arriving at Heathrow airport on 16th September 2017, I was more than amazed and forever grateful for God’s grace.

About the Study: Challenges and Key Factors

Living in Dunkirk neighbourhood in Nottingham and studying at University of Nottingham, I am sharing a house with three other Indonesian ladies who are also doing their Master’s: Human Factor Engineering, Architecture and Educational Psychology, respectively, while I myself do my Master’s in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). To me, personally, doing a one-year full time study in the UK presents some challenges: study commitment, criticality, originality, creativity, focus and discipline. Study commitment refers to the extent of our willingness to dedicate most of the time we have on our study. Sometimes the commitment of our study might change due to some distractors such as entertainment, laziness, and academic difficulties, which I have been dealing with up till now. Another distractor might be culture shock that most international students are experiencing, yet surprisingly, it does not affect me. I guess my joy over living and studying in the UK beats any culture shock.

The next factor contributing to either students’ success or failures goes to their criticality, originality and creativity in their academic work or paper assignments. When students are writing their papers, they have to show that they clearly and deeply understand the topics that come with theories, arguments, and evidence. Plagiarism is strongly prohibited, so if students copy any work without mentioning any sources, they will fail. Original ideas in writing are highly appreciated and result in high marks. Before submitting their paper assignments, students have to check their work similarity level through plagiarism detection program named TURNITIN. Creativity is also important in students’ papers because the level of creativity shows how much the students have been able to explore and extend the main topics. Therefore, in order to be able to produce good academic papers, please read more and more! If you are lazy to read, there is no way that you have anything to write!

Focus and discipline are then key factors to survive within academic world. Focus on reasons to study and our targets will keep us on the track. Being disciplined is necessary if you want to avoid any mess in your study. Do not cram for your assignments and your exams because doing anything important in your study in a hurry will result in low marks and failures. Plan your study carefully and stick to the timetable you have made, so there will not be any regrets.

Social Activities in the University

While studying abroad, we also learn about the new cultures and making friends with new people. Meeting other international students and local people is one of the greatest experiences ever! The university provides new students with some welcoming programs such as breakfast, lunch and dinner gatherings, games, talks, day trips, and religious bonds.

There are also hundreds of societies of all over the world and clubs for students:

  • modern and medieval sports,
  • science, engineering, chemistry, physics, or biology,
  • languages,
  • books,
  • debates,
  • food/cooking,
  • art,
  • movies,
  • music,
  • environment,
  • medics,
  • journalism,
  • photography,
  • choir,
  • martial arts,
  • even Harry Potter and TED Talk club and many more!

The university ensures that these social networks provide students with wonderful insights on global world issues and humanity values within the academic activities. In brief, it is expected that university students experience the positive values within the university life and later bring those positive impacts to societies during their study and afterwards.

Financial Matters

Based on my context as an international student in the UK education, tuition fee is something that can be daunting as world-class universities set high standards as well as the fees, which range from 15,000 pounds sterling to 25,000 pound sterling for postgraduate study programs. If self-funding is never a choice, applying for either university scholarships or government sponsorships might be the options. The other thing that international students concern is the living cost that covers meals, accommodation, transportation, and a bit of entertainment.

Undergraduate students mostly opt for university halls because they feel more secure as this might be the very first time they are away from parents and home. Postgraduate students, like me, normally prefer shared houses because they need more space and freedom to deal with their own stuff. One shared house costs students around 300 pounds sterling per person per month, excluding bills. If we live alone in a house, we have to pay 1,200 pounds sterling per month! That’s why, sharing a house with other two or three people is the wisest choice ever. To save more for food, cooking is always the best option! Houses that students rent are normally fully equipped with kitchen appliances, so cooking is one of the best skills students can learn as well during their stay in a foreign country. Just compare: one meal at a restaurant or a cafe costs 10 pounds sterling, while we only need to spend 20 pounds sterling per week for our home-cooked meals!

Commuting

Another good thing about studying abroad is dealing with our physical fitness. Since we do not own any private vehicles, we have to walk to campus. I live near the main campus, which is around 700 meters away from my neighbourhood, but I have to take university bus (Hopper Bus) to reach the other campus. University bus is free of charge, yet public buses and trams in the city cost us around 2 pounds sterling by cash per way and 1 pound sterling by transport card per way. To travel to other cities in the UK, taking a bus is normally the main option. It costs people around 15 to 30 pounds sterling either for a single journey or a return one. It depends on the distance from one city to the other.

A Few More Words

Studying abroad seems to be tempting to most students, yet there are things we need to ask ourselves: Why do we want to study abroad? What are the virtues and challenges? What are the requirements? How do we obtain the financial supports? If we have all the answers, it can be a positive sign that studying abroad is one jump away!

 

 

Lenny Lenny

MA TESOL 2017/2018

University of Nottingham

 

Nottingham, UK

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