Back to My High School

Last Friday I participated in my high school’s Career Day and spoke in front of year 10 and 12 students about study abroad preparation. It was good fun!

They looked enthusiastic (at least to me, hahaha) when listening to yours truly here babbling about things to consider before going to school abroad. I can’t figure out how to share the presentation here (perhaps I can use slideshare but at the moment I’m too lazy haha) so I’m going to share the points, it is rather wordy but hopefully you might find it relevant! 🙂

1) Choosing your major

This is your starting point. I think this is the first thing that has to be considered, because choosing the right major might be tricky to some people. You might want to consider your personal interest, your talent(s), and career aspiration. For example, I love to write, but I also love meeting new people and love music. Unfortunately, I don’t possess a musical talent thus I think being an artist is not the right career choice for me. Lucky me, back in my high school days I met my friend’s parent during career day who works as an advertising practitioner and learned about marketing and advertising from him. That seemed like a logical career choice for me, so I made my own research and figured out that I need to study Marketing or Communication and I can even study Psychology to be able to pursue a career in Marketing/Advertising. I consider myself lucky because I already knew what I want to be since high school so I could plan my studies accordingly. I told you it might be tricky for some people because not everybody already know what they want prior to going to the uni. Some had to change major – which is okay, but bear in mind that going to study abroad is a lot of investment so we want to make the chances very minimal 🙂

2) Choosing the location

There are some things that you can consider when choosing a location. The first is Distance. Do you need to be geographically closer to home? If yes, then your options are limited to neighboring countries only. The second is Language, Culture and Environment. Do you need to study in English speaking countries only? Or do you want to study a third language? Do you need to live within Asian culture? Or not? Which do you prefer, tropical weather or 4 seasons countries? Does size matter? Do you need to stay in big city or smaller towns would do? Those are some things to consider. Finally, Personal Considerations. Perhaps your parent is from a certain country and you want to study there. Perhaps your sibling(s) are residing in a certain country and you have to study there. The list may go on, but I hope some of the questions I raised helped you to consider things already. I believe location is not much of a problem for those of you who chose a common major, for example business or psychology. Every countries  in the world would most likely to have at least 1 reputable university which offer those majors… especially for undergraduates. However, if you happen to love Nano Engineering, or Music, or something that is less common.. your choice might be limited because I think not every university has the kind of majors.

3) Choosing the BEST school

Once you have a choice of major and selection of locations.. it’s time to choose the best university! When I say best, of course, is different for everybody. For example, majority would think that Oxford and Cambridge are the bests school in the UK, but not for me, because they don’t have a Media School and don’t offer a master degree program in either communication / marketing communication / advertising / digital marketing.. my areas of interest. Thus, I did not consider both schools at all when I was applying to grad schools in the UK.

How do you choose the best school then? I have divided the things to be considered into two groups; Academics i.e Major (does the school offers your preferred major?), Courses (for that major, do you find the courses interesting? will the courses help you to achieve your goals?), Professors / Research Groups (do they have a renowned research groups? Do they have the best professors within your selected field?),  and last but not least.. Rankings. The last one is self explanatory, right? The second group is Non – Academics i.e School Culture (what are the school values? does it match yours?), Student Diversity (does the school value diversity? would you prefer to study in a more diverse or less diverse group?), School Brand (does it matter to you if your school name makes people’s eyes sparkle?), and last but not least.. Alumni.

Some final tips in choosing the best school.. do a LOT of research and ask a lot of questions 🙂

4) Making your way into your best school

Preparation is key. Make sure you truly understand and prepare all the requirements. Read everything written on the school’s website. Most likely you would have to take standardised test(s). Be it IELTS/TOEFL, GRE/GMAT, SAT/LSAT.. it requires a lot of preparation and practice. Another important thing is recommendation letter. Approach someone who knows you very well and try to avoid getting generic recommendation. Now, last but not least.. Personal statement / Essay. I believe this is the most important part. 1000 other applicants might be able to have perfect scores on their standardised tests but none would be able to tell your story as good as yourself. Be unique. Embrace every aspects on your life, but be concise. Exaggerate, but don’t lie! 😉

5) Source of Funding

There are many ways to fund your study, not limited to personal fund. There are many scholarships for us Indonesians ; country specific (example : Fulbright, Chevening, Monbukagakusho, Erasmus+), school specific (example : Reach Oxford Scholarship), or the ones from a specific organization (example: LPDP). In most countries that I know, teaching / research assistanship may cover your tuition costs as well. Depending on the country, you can also do part time work, get a student loan or financial aid. So many possibilities! With those options, I personally think one should not consider funding as a limitation. Just focus on getting into the best school and have faith, there will be a way to fund your study! 🙂

6) My personal experience

I did not go abroad to study right after graduating from high school. Instead, I finished my undergraduate here in Indonesia, worked for a year, then left to the UK. Back then, I sort of knew that I want to focus in Marketing but I want a specific major for my masters. I did a lot of research and decided that I want to study Marketing and Communications, with focus on Advertising or Media. That explains why I ruled out business schools and MBAs from my options and focus on searching a Media / Communication department.

I wanted to live in an English speaking country so my options were only the UK, US, Singapore, and Australia. I tried to find the best school in each countries, found them, but decided to focus on the UK. I applied to several universities in the UK… got accepted to two but chose Bournemouth University because the MA Advertising & Marketing Communications program there offers Digital Marketing course (my area of interest), while the other does not. I applied for a scholarship from the university but failed to get it.. but the UK allows international students to work part – time so it can cover half of my expenses.

So that’s my story 🙂 I hope you find it somewhat useful.. don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to ask questions, I would be more than happy to help! 🙂

P.S – you can also browse Indonesia Mengglobal’s website to find A LOT of information about studying abroad. Do your research and prepare carefully… Good luck!

Surprisingly different

This is the third post in the “Christa in the UK” series – stories from the year 2009 and 2010 during my time living, studying, working and traveling in a small beach town called Bournemouth in South West England. 

Moving to another country of course made you have to deal with differences. Especially when you are moving to a city which in size is a lot lot smaller than where you previously lived. Bournemouth – as I mentioned several times before, is a small town. It’s not even half the size of Jakarta. So when I moved there from Jakarta, I had to deal with differences. Here’s some surprising and memorable ones.

Public transportation are reliable

Unlike in Jakarta, People in Bournemouth use their public transportation –  in this case, bus,  to get around town. They are not the best, I have to say, because sometimes they got delayed. Sometimes it’s hard to get from a point to another without having to change buses.. but in overall, the public transportation works well. There were clear schedule which you can access in every bus stops and you can also find it online.

This was not the case in Jakarta (although there are improvements as we speak). Okay I was considered lucky because I had options, but I tried to avoid using public bus in Jakarta. Why? I just could not work out how they operate! One day the bus could show up at 7, the next day show up at 7.15, the next day show up at 6.50! Come on.. how should I work out my schedule then?

That’s why, moving to Bournemouth made me have to learn how to use public bus. There are two major bus companies in Bournemouth, one being the Yellow Bus and the other one More Bus, so you can conveniently choose which one suits your travel needs. The buses were clean, comfortable, although you might have to be careful with drunk lads if you took the bus on Friday/Saturday nights :O

The Yellow Bus
The Yellow Bus –   Image from commons.wikimedia.org
More Bus
More Bus – Image from http://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk

Most shops close at 6PM, and they close on Sundays!

It’s either labor and operational cost are so expensive in England, or people just don’t like to shop.. but when I first got there, I found it very weird that most shops close at 6PM. They close even earlier on Saturdays, and fully closed on Sundays… especially in a small town like Bournemouth. Some big supermarkets like ASDA do close a little bit later though, probably around 8PM.. but that’s it. Don’t expect to be able to shop after 8PM, and forget about midnight sale, hehehe.

In a way, this was good for my wallet as I did not have the chance to shop after finishing my classes, and.. some bakeries or grocery shops tend to have 50% discount for fresh items between 5-6PM, right before they close – just the time when I was going home! Hooray!

Image from http://www.anderson-sheppard.co.uk

I think the condition is different in bigger cities like London, for example. When I went there, I could shop in Oxford Street until at 9PM, similar to shopping experience in Jakarta.

People do things on the grass!

Oh, this is one thing that really surprised me. Though moving to Bournemouth was not my first time going abroad, but I never really noticed this. In Bournemouth (and almost everywhere else I’ve noticed after I lived in Bournemouth), people are able to do things on the grass! Why is it so surprising to me? Well.. because..

Flickr
Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/bhaktiamsterdam

I bet those of you in Indonesia has seen this sort of picture before! Yep, I don’t know why but we are not allowed to step on the grass! Especially in parks! This messed up my logic because I thought we are supposed to do things on the grass? Like, I don’t know.. having a picnic? sitting around? studying? relaxing? Yet we are not even allowed to step on it.

In contrary, Bournemouth has a really nice garden right in the middle of the town centre, en route to the beach. It has a tourist attraction as well, called the Bournemouth Balloon.

bournemouth-balloon
Image from http://www.tripadvisor.com

As you can see in the above image, the garden looks really nice, right? It’s also very nice to sit there, on the grass, just enjoying your day. Of course it can get really cold during winter days (bear in mind we’re talking about British weather here!), but I loved going there any other times of the year, especially during summer days, just to relax and unwind. I went there for picnic with my friends too. Now that’s what the gardens are supposed to be there for! For the people to relax! Now I really don’t understand why we are not allowed to step in the grass here in Indonesia.. Why is it there, then? just for aesthetic purpose?

Disposable BBQ do exist!

Speaking about summer, there’s a particular tradition that the Brits love to do, and I personally really love as well. It’s BBQ! Since Bournemouth has a pretty nice beach, people often do BBQ on the beach. Or the garden. Or their backyard. Basically everywhere, during sunny summer days.

But what about the props? Do we have to carry BBQ grill everywhere? Worry not, there’s what they call Disposable Instant Grill! I haven’t seen this everywhere prior to coming to Bournemouth. Really. You can purchase it on every supermarket, even mini markets, for as cheap as £2 when I was there. Me and my classmates love to do BBQ on the beach, we simply purchased the instant grill, the meats, condiments, etc, en route to the beach.

This is what it looks like. Have you seen it before? I asked my boyfriend in the US and he said he never even heard of this kind of thing. I think it’s a British thing?

Image from http://www.statichukd.com
Image from http://www.statichukd.com

People eat in Pubs!

Prior to coming to the UK, all I knew about Pubs or Bars is beer. Hahaha. I mean, I think it’s just a place to drink and get drunk. Little did I know that British pubs serve food! Some are actually delicious, I must say.

Image from www.tripwow.tripadvisor.com
Image from http://www.tripwow.tripadvisor.com

Have you heard about Sunday roast? It’s a traditional British or Irish meal and is commonly served in Pubs, on Sundays. I was a bit confused when I first got my first Sunday roast invitation from a friend. She told me to meet at our local Pub at noon for lunch. I thought, “wow British people really love to drink.. they even drink on Sunday afternoons!” Hahaha. But I was wrong. We did not come there to drink, instead we had a nice and proper meal.. Sunday Roast. It became a sort of tradition for me and my friends almost every Sunday, to have lunch together in our local Pub. Again, something I did not expect before, having meal in a Pub! 😀

Image from www.artvertise.co.uk
Image from http://www.artvertise.co.uk

So that’s about it. Some surprising differences I found during my first months in in Bournemouth. At the end, I became accustomed to them and at the moment, while writing this, I’m craving for a good Sunday roast… or BBQ at the beach! (I don’t miss not being able to shop after 6PM though.. Hahaha)

Have you lived abroad? Or simply, when you are traveling abroad, did you find any differences from your hometown? Please share in the comment box below! 🙂

I hate the weather and I want to go home!

This is the second post in the “Christa in the UK” series – stories from the year 2009 and 2010 during my time living, studying, working and traveling in a small beach town called Bournemouth in South West England. 

It was early September when I arrived in the soil of England, all by myself. I remember feeling very optimistic, very excited to start my new life. Unfortunately, due to visa conditions, I arrived a week later than I was supposed to, thus making me missed orientations week and only had a weekend to settle before school started.

Worry not, through the help of Facebook I was able to make some friends before school started.. I found 3 other Indonesians in my year (there were only 4 including myself) and one of them – Andrew, pick me up at Bournemouth Coach Station after I spent 2 hours coach ride from London. He helped me find my house and carry my big suitcases (thanks Ndrew! hehe), and later on we met with the other 2.. Poppa and Yovita. Except Yovita who were an undergrad student in her final year, the three of us were postgraduate students.

Later on, I also found out that there were a total of around 20 Indonesians in Bournemouth.. some Bournemouth University students as well but started school the previous year, some working already, and a family with 3 kids. I think the amount of Indonesians were just the right amount. Not too little, not too many… A lovely community. I was happy and not worried that I would get homesick.

Now let’s talk about my house. I rented a room in a 4 bedroom flat.. the smallest room to be exact. There were no communal room, only shared kitchen and bathroom. It’s a tiny flat indeed.. located in Winton, a suburb (supposedly) not far from the university’s Talbot campus. When I looked at it through Google Maps before my arrival, it seemed close, a 20 minutes walk to the campus. It’s not too far from the town centre too, it’s only 3 minutes walk to the nearest bus stop. Oh, my housemates were nice as well. 2 British, 1 Japanese. All girls, no drama.  Everything seemed promising, right? 🙂

Then came the first weeks at school. My class schedule was looking great, I loved the lectures, it was not hard to make friends and I felt like I’m adapting well. I was excited. On my first weekend, I went out to the beach during the day and spent the night painting the town red with my class mates. I had my first experience of hanging out in an authentic British pub, had fun and made more friends. Again, all seemed promising. I (thought) I was adapting well.

Until… I experienced my first British rain. Oh, the lovely rain. I still remember it clearly, even after all these years! I was on my way home from the university; it was around 4 in the afternoon. I was carrying two bags.. one for my stuffs – laptop, books, wallet, etc – and one was my shopping bag – I made a stop at the supermarket to buy milk. The weather seemed pleasant at first. I was halfway to my house. Then, out of the blue.. it rained! I immediately grabbed my umbrella and tried to walk faster so that I could reach my house safely. Unfortunately my umbrella was not big enough so I still got sprinkles of water here and there. As if that’s not enough.. suddenly it became soooo windy. I was having trouble in keeping balance of my tiny umbrella and walking (plus carrying two heavy bags) at the same time. The wind didn’t want to stop, though. I felt it became stronger and stronger until my umbrella got broken… and there I was, soaking wet and freezing. I was lucky that my bag was somehow waterproof that my laptop and books were not wet… but everything else (read: me) were.

When I finally reached my house, I couldn’t help myself from crying. Never in my life before I had to experience being wet from the rain. Everything else went downhill from there. The homesickness started to kick in – I felt miserable, I missed my family, my friends, my (then) boyfriend. I was freezing and I hated the weather, I wanted to go home. I felt like coming here was all a mistake. It was midnight in Indonesia so I couldn’t call anyone.. and kept crying (even in the shower! Hahahahaha so dramatic) until I managed to cook myself a bowl of Indomie.

So that’s how British Fall season welcomed me. Afterwards, I managed to buy a bigger (and stronger) umbrella.. a thicker (waterproof and windproof) coat, and waterproof boots! All to keep myself warm during the rest of Fall and even Winter. I may spent a night crying like a baby because of homesickness, but I managed to live a happy life for the rest of my stay in the UK! 🙂

To end this post, here’s a collage of pictures.. Clockwise from top left: me and my (short hair) plus red (RIP) umbrella before the wind took it away – a glimpse of Winton (my neighborhood) – Bournemouth Beach – a night out with my class mates – and… a group picture of Indonesian community of Bournemouth, wearing none other than Batik! 🙂

Life in Bournemouth

Christa in the UK

I have decided to take a stroll down memory lane and share stories from my study abroad period in the UK back in 2009 – 2010. Starting now, posts tagged “Christa in the UK” will tell you my experience as an international student living, studying, and traveling around the UK. Hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy taking a stroll down memory lane 🙂

How did I end up there?

When I got the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree overseas, I didn’t instantly chose the UK as my destination. Instead, I aimed to go to Australia. It seemed like a realistic option since Australia is closer to Indonesia. I also looked at other options.. the UK, the US and Canada. I deliberately limit my options to English – speaking countries only thus explains the limited options. But, after several considerations (most significant being cost), I chose to go to the UK! woohoo! Oh, did I wrote it right? Cost? Yep, I found it cheaper to go to the UK rather than Australia or the US despite the high Poundsterling exchange rate to Indonesian Rupiah. Simply because most of UK universities offered 1 year master degree program, while at that time not many universities in other countries that offered the same.. mostly were 2 years program. Having done the budget calculation, I decided that the UK was more budget friendly for me and decided to apply.

I applied to several universities majoring in Advertising/Marketing Communications and got accepted to a few. I had to choose between 3 wonderful cities – Leeds, Birmingham, or Bournemouth. The first two might be more familiar to most people. But I ended up choosing Bournemouth, a small town which –  prior to applying to Bournemouth University –  I actually never heard of. Although there were some educational based reasons behind that (I might elaborate later..), but the reason I chose to go to Bournemouth was also because of this!

Bournemouth Beach
Bournemouth Beach!  (Image from http://bournemouthrock.co.uk/)

Who can resist studying in a town with a beach like this? I certainly could not! 🙂

Though Bournemouth beach may not be as pretty as those in Bali or Derawan Islands.. it’s still very pretty to me and the fact that it’s so easily accessible (very close to the town centre) made it very appealing. With the help of Google, I easily could search  images of Bournemouth beach and the city surroundings. I was hooked instantly, and ended up choosing Bournemouth over Leeds and Birmingham.

So that’s how I ended up in the UK, particularly in a small town called Bournemouth in Dorset county, approximately 2 hours away from London. The town is famous as a holiday destination for those in South of England (and of course, for the university  haha).  I lived there for almost a year (11 months and a couple of days, to be exact..) while completing my masters. Did I like it? I certainly did! In fact, it was one of the best period in my life. Why? stay tune to this series and I’ll let you know in the next posts 🙂