Oh! asked five beneficiaries of a range of scholarships to share their experiences of living and studying in a foreign country. Here is what they said.
It was ‘sweet as!’ as my Kiwi mates like to say. The accent is strange, but New Zealand is a special place with mind-blowing arts, natural wonders and lovely people. My two years were unforgettable. Learning is not only about the classroom, but also from exposure to new cultures, people and places, bringing new ideas and different perspectives. I discovered what I really like and want in my life after spending time chatting with people. I often discussed development issues, which enriched lessons from uni. Don’t be totally obsessed with study! Turn off your computer and go out and enjoy the beach, sunshine and nightlife! You’re not there to change the world but to see the world from different angles and enjoy it!
Oulath Saengouthay (Lath), Master in Development Studies, University of Wellington, ASEAN Scholarship
"Living and studying abroad has been demanding but rewarding. After my first semester, I realised the educational system is different from Laos and requires greater independence. At first, I struggled with time management, deadlines and high levels of expectation. However, I passed my first semester, and am using the lessons learnt. Australia is a very diverse country and there are invisible tensions amongst races. The Australian accent and idioms also take time to understand fully. Being independent has allowed me to know my strengths, weaknesses, and passions. I have broader perspectives from making new friends and see the world differently form before. Five months in Australia and I realise that neither pain nor bliss lasts forever. To feel it we need to pursue it."
Aep Akhavong, Australian Award Scheme scholar, currently at ANU, Canberra
"..My experiences in India were fantastic: university life; engaging in Indian culture and lifestyles and especially Indian food. I met the greatest friends and learnt under top professors. The people are so dynamic and diverse, traditional and sophisticated. I really enjoyed the different religious festivals and how despite differences, the communities coexist. I loved Indian food, chicken tikka masala, chicken korma, butter naan, chicken curry, panipuri etc. Most importantly I visited the Taj Mahal, one of the Wonders of the World, and also saw the stunning Himalayas.”
Sengthong Keomuanvong (Tui), B.A in Economics (Hons), Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, India
“I participated in a series of lectures on environment management at Montana University. It was interesting to listen to suggestions from professors for tackling environmental problems and the interesting case studies they used. Our homestay in three states and the cultural activities we experienced made me realize that there’s so much to appreciate about American culture. I also value natural resources much more and what they mean to humankind.”
Thanousone Ngongvoralath exchange program in the US on ‘The Study of the United States Institutes on Global Environmental Issues’.
“Learning at the ‘Harvard of the East’ is a lifetime journey that I have taken with me every day since. The best aspect of NUS is that learning is not only in-class or from textbooks, but is filled with creativity, allowing students to think critically and through hands-on real life experience. I participated in a three-week volunteer program at Indonesia’s Wildlife Rescue Center, learning so much about conservation efforts. There are definitely challenges, especially coming from a totally different education system. One has to learn to adapt to the fast-paced, demanding and competitive learning environment. It was difficult at first but the university offers great support for all kinds of problems that may arise. Make sure you participate in the sport and cultural activities on offer as well as your study”
By David Fairhurst