So, here is my long pending post, mostly informative about the process and not about my personal motivations that have brought me this far in the journey to Sweden. Jotting this down, as at least some of you have been wanting to know.
Firstly, just to put things in place, I am the recipient of a popularly awarded scholarship by the Swedish Institute (entity governing the Universities in Sweden). This scholarship covers living expenses, that are pretty exorbitant when compared to ours in India. The worth of the scholarship is 90,000 SEK (9,000 x 10 months) for two years, and a one time travel grant of 15,000 SEK. I will not talk in INR, for it is very volatile and does not entirely make sense (do check up on the exchange rates so that the finances make sense to you).
The SI scholarship, if granted, the recipient is guaranteed the funds for the first year, and if the scholarship holder scores at least 22.5 credits out of 30 (equivalent of passing in 3 out of the 4 subjects with a minimum of 50% marks) in the first semester, only then will the scholarship will be extended to the second year.
Also, the university I am getting admitted into for the Master of Science, in Communication Engineering – Chalmers University of Technology, has awarded me a full tution fee waiver – that is about, 280,000 SEK.
This being the consequence, let me talk about the process that has led me into this beautiful city – Gothenburg.
The website, http://www.challengeyourself.in/ initially when I stumbled upon during my hunt for scholarships, seemed to convince me little about its authenticity. There were many sites that seemed like spam, and I did not give too much heed to the literature on the site. Then, serenditpitously I happened to be at the Swedish Education Day that happened in Bangalore on the 31st of October, 2012 and it is here that I witnessed the Swedish way of taking things to a new level. The earnestness in the attempt to popularise their higher education in India, with the scholarship as one of the incentives was clear and I was convinced about the seriousness of the website.
A small hindrance then was that, the challenge said it was only fee waiver for the students who won the scholarship. I was again not very keen on it, for the living expenses would be lot more than if I opted for a course in Germany (Germany, even now does not charge tuition fee for many international programs). Nonetheless, without lot of seriousness I took up the challenges on the http://www.challengeyourself.in/
The tests, if you check up even now are online and were not very difficult. General information quiz about Sweden, some analytical tests and then I had to choose between three programs. From the Swedish education day, and based on my interests the course offered by Chalmers University best fit my need. Also, while researching for Universities abroad, Chalmers was one of my favorites but because of the heavy tuition fee I had given up on it.
So, choosing Chalmers led me into two rounds of test by Chalmers; One included a multiple choice quiz on signal processing and related ideas to my course. It was followed by a technical essay on a topic related to networks in India and how a wireless backhaul could benefit the networks. With my experience as a networks engineer, I could write out a 500 word essay which clearly depicted my hands-on experience. A personal statement of motivation of about 300 words was needed. I did write it and completed my application.
As I mentioned already, because the scholarship challenge included only fee waiver I did not take up the challenge with dead seriousness. And that in a way helped in keeping my approach casual I must add.
In about ten days, I was informed that I was shortlisted in the top 20 candidates. That did not greatly excite me, but as I read the mail there was a new point added stating, that my living expenses will be taken care off with a stipend with travel grant. NOW, the challenge was more realistic to me.
Immediately, I had a paradigm shift about the challenge and I got ready for the next procedure. It involved doing lot of documentation, A LOT of it and sending it to the organisers and the University. My documents reached the University on the day of the deadline at 3PM! The next step was if the documents were adequately sent and based on the profile video interviews would be conducted.
The video interview did happen, wherein a personnel from the university conducted a personal interview, which was intended at understanding the motivation of me applying to the course and the University. I was honest and told them as to it was Germany I was looking at, and because of the scholarship I had the opportunity to apply to Chalmers. And more detailed questions probing my future aspirations and other skills of mine. No technical questions were asked, and I did think that the interview went on well.
After again a week, I was declared to be one amongst the 3 finalists who could have won the Challenge.
The next month was torturous, becuase I had narrowed down to the top 3 and I did not want to miss out on the opportunity to go to Chalmers.
On 13th of January, 2013 the entire crew including members from Student Competitions, SI and Universities who were involved in the challenge came down to Bangalore and in a day long event, finally declared the winner. I must admit, I usually am never very excited, nervous or do I have any expectations. But, on that specific day I was swelling with all of these, and the result that I was the winner simply quenched these emotions. I knew that moment was going to be the fulcrum point in my life, from where on I was going to progress into a different path.
And, now after 7 months I am here, savouring the Swedish summer in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, walking up to ‘my University’.
It’s been a wonderful journey, and I am all set to making it better. I already have found hints that I will have to work harder, and that is the least I can be doing to value the opportunity that is at hand, while I also learn the Swedish way of life.
PS: This post was intended to answer some of the queries, many of you have been asking me through the last few months. I haven’t dealt with many specifics. If you are interested to know, do drop me a personal mail or post a comment 🙂