“Pursuing a higher degree with a scholarship program becomes an ultimate dream for many prospective students. This opportunity can also significantly change our life trajectory in the future. Ashri Nooraida Permana, a Master degree graduate from University of Technology Sydney (UTS), also experienced such transformation from her academic journey at UTS to her current role as a UX Researcher at Jabar Digital Service.”
Back then, I never thought that I would be able to pursue my postgraduate degree, even overseas. At the time when I was in the final year of my undergraduate degree, I questioned myself about what were the things that I should do after I graduated? Seeing most of my friends started to apply for jobs triggered me to search for job opportunities as well. But then, I found a page that provides lots of information about overseas scholarship opportunities. I thought that it would be a challenging yet fantastic chance for me to deep dive into my field of study (Information and Library Science) in.
Thus, my focus switched from searching for job vacancies to looking for scholarship information as many as possible. I compiled any opportunities that I found, such as Korean Government Scholarship Program (KGSP), Turkiye Burlsari, Fulbright Scholarship, Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan (LPDP) Scholarship, and so on.
At that time, the earliest scholarship that I could apply was LPDP Scholarship. I started to prepare for all the required documents as well as searching for the universities that provide Information Studies/Knowledge Management programmes. After having a discussion with my lecturers about the best destination for a postgraduate programme in my field of study, I decided to apply for Digital Information Management programme in the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).
Of course, I once felt insecure, and I always thought like “Would I be capable of doing it? Could I pass the scholarship selection and university admission?” and any other things that made me overthink this decision.
Therefore, I realised that I needed to build a support system from both internal (motivation from myself) and external (attending any scholarship seminar and exhibition, joining scholarship hunter groups, and reaching out LPDP Awardees to know more about their experience during the selection process). Long story short, fortunately, I passed the LPDP Scholarship selection in 2016 and got the Unconditional Letter from UTS in the next year, Thank God!
Leading up to my departure date in February 2018, I felt unconfident (again) like “Would I be able to study well in this university? Would I be able to live by myself in this country?”, as it was my very first time to study outside Bandung area. But then, this was where my life-changing experience started!
During my journey as a postgraduate student in UTS, I faced various challenges and opportunities. I still remember when I came to my first class, we were supposed to introduce ourselves. Evidently, most of my classmates were professionals (having more than one year of work experience). I once felt inferior because I did not have any professional experience compared to the others. I felt left out when it came to tutorial sessions where we talked about knowledge or information management strategies and implementations in the real enterprise case. Even worse, I got my ‘almost failed’ mark for my first assignment.
Nevertheless, these challenges did not give me up. I ventured to approach the lecturers at every end of the class to get more insights about the things that I had not understood during their lessons and even consulted about the assignment requirements. In the final semester, I began to change my study style and made an assignment timetable so that I could still be on the right track. Luckily for me, in the final semester, I could get better marks compared to those in the past two semesters.
Despite feeling insecure in my first year of postgraduate life, I managed to broaden my life experience not only in the academic field but also in non-academic life. I was actively joining various volunteer activities (such as Peer Networker, UTS Build Program, WINDA Film Festival, etc.) and participating as a committee for an organisation called Australia-Indonesia Youth Association.
Through the involvement in such activities, I gained valuable experiences such as time management, teamwork, communication and interpersonal skills; and also helped me to make lifelong friends!
Until in the middle year of 2019, mercifully, I graduated from UTS with a satisfactory grade. Few days after I was back for good to Indonesia, thankfully, I was able to pass my first-ever full-time professional employment at Jabar Digital Service (JDS). At that time, I was considerably grateful given that I was still a fresh graduate, but studying at UTS has equipped me with practical knowledge that relates to my current role as a UX Researcher for JDS.
Studying in Australia has been an unforgettable experience that has helped me shape the person who I am today. Not only have I learnt valuable lessons during my university life, but I also could be able to give back to the community by implementing the things that I have learnt from living and studying overseas.
Last but not least, I would like to say for those who want to start their path to study overseas always to be the best version of yourself. If you are a fresh graduate and want to take a postgraduate degree directly, do not worry because you will learn practical knowledge and best practice in the field that you are studying. Likewise, if you already have professional experience beforehand, it will be a good opportunity for you to explore practical and applicable knowledge that will be useful for your career path. Do not ever give up; do not let fear and anxiety stand in your way. Good things take time, as they should. Semangat!