Achieving Your Study Abroad Dream with IELTS: Laras’ Experience

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Laras at The University of Greenwich. Source: Personal documentation
Laras at The University of Greenwich. Source: Personal documentation

Achieving the desired IELTS score for continuing study abroad might be a challenging thing, especially in a pandemic situation where there are some restrictions in doing activities. This is Laras’ experience, about making her dream come true to study abroad, through tackling the IELTS challenge.”

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Hi Sahabat Indonesia Mengglobal! 

My name is Devi Larasati P. Murwaningrum. People usually call me Laras, for short. After several years of work experience in the non-profit sector mostly revolved around maternal and child health issues, I decided to pursue my education at MSc in Global Public Health at the University of Greenwich, as an awardee of British Council IELTS Prize 2020/2021

Laras’ IELTS prize journey

IELTS Prize is an award by the British Council Foundation – a United Kingdom’s international organisation for cultural and educational opportunities – that intended to support students to pursue their dream to study in any country and university that accepted IELTS as part of the requirement. 

The award that was introduced in 2011 has given a broader opportunity than many other scholarships by accepting applications for every course major from Undergraduate to Doctoral degree. 

In 2021, the British Council IELTS Prize for the East Asia region had chosen 27 winners from 9 countries, including Indonesia. There were three local winners to represent each country and I was selected as the First IELTS Prize Local Winner from Indonesia. If you want to be next IELTS Prize winners, bookmark IELTS Prize official website and stay tuned for the announcement of the 2022 application opening.

The British Council East Asia IELTS Prize Winners 2020/2021. Source: British Council

Improving health system in Indonesia: Laras’ motivation to study abroad

My work experience in health programmes has given me an idea about the health system in Indonesia. There are many problems needed to be addressed, especially for women and children in outer, rural, remote areas in Indonesia. 

As I have always been interested in health issues, I found a wake-up call to be involved deeper in this field. I see that some Maternal and Child Health (MCH) issues are not merely one country’s own. It also happens anywhere in the world, thus a global view of best practices within MCH is necessary. 

I see the UK as the right country to go to for a degree in Global Public Health as it has one of the best healthcare systems in the world (CEOWORLD Health Care Index 2021). London, particularly, is a city with diverse communities and cultures. As this city is also a base of many development organisations, it opens unlimited opportunities for me to get career practice that is related to my choice of study.

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The University of Greenwich. Source: Personal documentation


Preparation for studying abroad, including preparing for the IELTS test

Preparing for study abroad, indeed took much time and effort, especially because I didn’t get any help from the education agency. So, it was important to set my goal clear, manage measurable steps, and keep being motivated. Apart from gathering course information from study-and-scholarship exhibitions and university open days, I joined free online short courses in related subjects to get a grip of the study focus as I have no educational background in public health. 

Moreover, my essential goal was to get a good IELTS score. I believe that it has given me the confidence to keep going towards my goal and actively use the language in the academic setting. In 2020, due to the COVID social restriction in Indonesia, the IELTS test was postponed to almost 6 months. It was a challenging circumstance in which I had to do self-study for IELTS and changed the whole study plan. 

This situation pushed me to defer my entry to next year’s intake, nevertheless, it gave me more time to study and prepare well. I found it was useful for IELTS self-study to find a sparring partner, especially for speaking practice, join courses and seminars on IELTS tips and tricks, as well as make the most of the preparation materials given by the British Council.
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A seminar by the British Council Foundation Indonesia on IELTS and GREAT Scholarship. Source: Personal documentation

Laras’ IELTS test  experience at British Council 

I have never taken the IELTS test before, so I signed up for 1-2 months of IELTS preparation courses to be able to understand the test type and how to answer it. When I was confident to take the test, I applied for the test and picked the date that suited me the most. I trusted the British Council on account of its caliber reputation as the best provider for the IELTS test. 

The social and travel restriction by Jakarta’s government forced the test centres to off their operation for months, including the British Council. As a result, I had to change my test dates several times. The staff helped arrange and inform the updated regulations in place.  Before the test day, they gave thorough information on how the test and health measures would be done in the test centre. It gave me relief as a strict health measure was implemented on the test day without burdening the test takers with more stress.

My decision to take the test with the British Council has helped me to get a satisfactory result with an overall IELTS score of 7.5. As a registered test taker, the British Council provided a series of seminars and plenty of materials that can be used to prepare me for the test better. There were websites and applications for self-learning, even mock-up tests. These materials are always updated and very accurate to the real test I had. Additionally, the most exciting part of taking the test with the British Council is the opportunity to apply for the British Council IELTS Prize award. As someone who already has an equivalent degree, I had limited options of scholarship that I am eligible to apply to. With the IELTS Prize, the British Council has taken a major part in making my dream to study abroad come true.

Laras’ current activity in the UK and her future dream

As a student of a one-year course, I prioritise most of my time to study and improve necessary skills that will be useful for my future career. I joined the university’s choir to channel my singing hobby where I found some friends from various courses in the university and expanded my network. I’m also taking a part-time job in nursing homes to learn about how adult/senior health care works and gain the UK’s working experiences. In my free time, I usually explore interesting places and restaurants in London and other cities nearby with friends or enjoy home-cooked food and movies at home.

Laras in London
Laras in London. Source: Personal documentation

I wish to be able to learn about the UK’S health system that runs the NHS to provide health services for everyone in the country and get first-hand experiences on how the skills and knowledge from the course programme to be applied in real life will support my career objective in global health. I have seen myself in five years as a global public health professional within a development organisation, supporting the government’s health development programme through health intervention, to improve maternal, adolescent, and child health status in many rural areas in Indonesia.

Tips for future IELTS-test takers 

My tips for the future IELTS takers are:

–  Spare at least 2-3 months before taking the test to give you enough time to study. Learning intensively, 1-2 hours a day allocated regularly is more effective than spending 1-2 days to learn all the materials, especially in learning a language.

–  Do a mock-up test to determine the part you are weak at. As the IELTS test has 4 parts tested, you want to work on the part(s) you need to improve. Spend more time to learn the part(s) or find your learning strategy!

–  Find a sparring partner (if it’s possible), particularly to practice your speaking and writing skills. You will find it is useful to do roleplay in speaking parts with your partner and proofread each other’s writings. A partner will also keep you motivated to go through the learning process.

–  Grow interest in reading, particularly academic articles. Learn to do skimming and catch the main ideas faster. No matter how good you are in other areas of English, this skill will also be beneficial for future academic learning.

–  Be proactive to find new study materials, readings, and tips and tricks of the IELTS. This will help you to understand the test better and do the test faster.

–  Be confident and get enough rest before test day. It is important to keep yourself fit on the test day.

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