Guest Blog – Fatin’s Chevening Adventure

Fatin Arifin is the recipient of the 2013/14 Chevening Scholarship in Brunei. She is currently studying MSc Emerging Economies & International Development at King’s College London.

“You are provisionally selected as our Chevening candidate for 2013/14!” From receiving that email in the first week of May to leaving in September, everything in between was pretty much ticking off things on the checklist.

Being Part of the Chevening Community

I got added to the Chevening club not long after getting the notification about the provisional selection. This was when it felt like the journey was beginning because I started meeting fellow Cheveners online who made me feel excited about the whole Chevening experience and the preparation before heading here. My Chevening Programme Officer Ceri started getting in touch with me regarding all the arrangements and she made the whole process easy going and flawless.

The Moment Has Arrived

Having left university over six years ago, I felt nervous about going back to study again especially in the couple of weeks before classes began. I knew back then when I graduated in 2007 that I would eventually study for my Masters but I did not rush to do so as at the end of the day I wanted to be sure about what the next step in my life should be. When the opportunity knocked, I knew the time had arrived. The decision to take up development studies came naturally.

Upon arriving, I had a few days to settle in which was enough to prepare myself with the basics, to familiarize myself with the area I lived in and how to get to university. I took the opportunity to get out and get lost as I wasn’t sure that I would have the time to do so after classes commenced.

My Chevening Adventure So Far

I’ve only been here just over a month and I already feel that time is flying by so quickly. In the past few weeks, I have been inspired and intellectually stimulated by the lectures and seminars and have come to realise how much I did not know and how much I have yet to know. I am learning about countries previously unfamiliar to me such as Latin America and India to name a few and dichotomising their development models.

I have to admit that the transition from working to studying is challenging. Each week there are a certain number of readings that my colleagues and I have to be prepared with before attending the classes. Each one of us is assigned to deliver a presentation and critical evaluation of the readings depending on the week and you are expected to lead the discussion that ensues afterwards. I felt this was unfamiliar territory as I suddenly felt aware of the need to have an opinion on everything which takes some getting used to and it is a lot harder if the book or article I am expected to comment on is written by a Nobel Laureate! From time to time, we organize our own study groups because the classes aren’t enough to discuss about a certain topics and issues.

Recently, another opportunity came to meet Her Majesty the Queen this time at the Buckingham Palace on the 18th October to celebrate Commonwealth, Youth and Education under my Commonwealth-Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE) hat which I accepted with honour. It was a wonderful experience to be inside the palace and networking with people from all over the world and to speak to some of the Commonwealth’s youth leaders.

Outside Buckingham Palace
With Chevening Scholars Santi from Indonesia and Saovanee from Malaysia

I have also finally met some fellow Cheveners officially at the Welcome Reception on the 22nd October at the iconic Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I thought it was humorous to meet some people you attend classes with every week there at the reception without knowing that they are also fellow Cheveners. This is how large the Chevening community is! I know that the next ten months that I have left as a Chevening Scholar is going to be an exciting adventure because I am in the company of the world’s emerging leaders, in one of the greatest University’s in the most vibrant and exciting city in the world!

Planning and Preparing for Chevening Application

I recall how little time I had in submitting the application for Chevening when I did the application back in December as I was in between various travels and work assignments. I would like to take this opportunity to share the journey with prospective applicants whether you are applying for this round or the next or intend to apply one day.

One of the most important aspects of your application is the part where you write about your experience, the course you have selected and what you aim to do upon your return. It seems simple enough but I urge you to really ponder about it at a deeper level because your story will separate you from others. Think about how you have been of value to the workplace, community, and nation. And think about how you want to proceed to the next step of your career or life and how studying will help you get there. This is also an opportunity to discover yourself and things you can possibly do in the future with the experience you have amassed. It can get overwhelming to write a compelling case in limited words because there is the dilemma about what is and what isn’t important enough to include in the application. My advice is to compose your story in a way that articulates best your reason for choosing your area of study– What sort of experience do you have in that area of study? What do you think will you learn from that course? etc. When you are done writing your story, get two to three people to have a read and comment before you edit it. These people should include someone who either know you best, someone who can give you harsh, but constructive critcism (because you also need someone who doesn’t have to completely agree with you), and someone who doesn’t know you that well. Their comments will help you look at it from different perspectives.

The second part relates to the university and course options. Don’t take this for granted. Really take time to research all the courses available across the UK and find one that fits your aims best. Your course and university options will determine your motivation in excelling in the course and at the end of the day, your happiness! It is important at the Masters level for you to do what you really want to do as the university and course play a large role in shaping you and your goals.

Once you feel satisfied about the changes you have made to your application, you can move on to submitting it with confidence! And after that, take the patience pill or forget you even applied because once you get to the interview stage (I believe sometime in March); the emotional rollercoaster will begin until you get the Final Award Letter. Good luck!

If you’re interested in applying for the 2014/15 Chevening Scholarship, visit the Brunei country page on the Chevening website for more information!

Author: Reedz