25th October 2013 Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

My Chevening Adventure

Fatin Arifin is the recipient of the 2013/14 Chevening Scholarship in Brunei. She is currently studying MSc Emerging Economies & International Development at King’s College London.

“You are provisionally selected as our Chevening candidate for 2013/14!” From receiving that email in the first week of May to leaving in September, everything in between was pretty much ticking off things on the checklist.

Receiving my Chevening award at the British High Commissioner’s Residence with Datin Adina & David Campbell
Receiving my Chevening award at the British High Commissioner’s Residence with Datin Adina & David Campbell

Being Part of the Chevening Community

I got added to the Chevening club not long after getting the notification about the provisional selection. This was when it felt like the journey was beginning because I started meeting fellow Cheveners online who made me feel excited about the whole Chevening experience and the preparation before heading here. My Chevening Programme Officer Ceri started getting in touch with me regarding all the arrangements and she made the whole process easy going and flawless.

The Moment Has Arrived

Having left university over six years ago, I felt nervous about going back to study again especially in the couple of weeks leading up to my arrival. I knew back then when I graduated in 2007 that I would eventually study for my Masters but I did not rush to do so as I wanted to be sure about what the next step in my life should be. When the opportunity knocked, I knew the time had arrived and the decision to take up development studies came naturally.

Upon arriving, I had a few days to settle in which was enough to prepare myself with the basics and to familiarize myself with the area I am living in and my university. I took the opportunity to get out and get lost as I wasn’t sure that I would have the time to do so after classes commenced. To my delight, London is really easy to navigate around by foot!

My Chevening Adventure So Far

I’ve only been here just over a month and I already feel that time is flying by so quickly. In the past few weeks, I have been inspired and intellectually stimulated by the lectures and seminars and have come to realise how much I did not know and how much I have yet to know. I am learning about countries previously unfamiliar to me such as Latin America and India to name a few and dichotomising their development models.

I have to admit that the transition from working to studying is challenging. Each week there are a certain number of readings that my colleagues and I have to be prepared with before attending the classes. Some of the modules require us to deliver a presentation and critical evaluation of the readings and then lead the discussion that ensues afterwards. This makes me cognisant of the need to have an opinion which takes some getting used to. It does not help when you are expected to comment on the book or article written by a Nobel Laureate!

My comrades hail from all over including Germany, India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, France, US, Jordan and Guyana to name so few! From time to time, we organize our own study groups because the classes are not enough to discuss about certain topics and issues.

Aside from the serious stuff, I have been attending several events including the Commonwealth Youth Awards Ceremony hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat a few weeks ago. Recently, another opportunity came to meet Her Majesty the Queen this time at the Buckingham Palace to celebrate Commonwealth, Youth and Education under my Commonwealth-Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE) hat which I accepted with honour. It was a wonderful experience to be inside the palace and networking with people from all over the world and to speak to some of the Commonwealth’s youth leaders.

I have also finally met some fellow Cheveners officially at the Welcome Reception on the 22nd October at the iconic Foreign and Commonwealth Office. I thought it was humorous to meet some people that I have been attending classes with every week there at the reception without knowing that they are also fellow Cheveners. This is how large the Chevening community is!

Outside Buckingham Palace
Outside Buckingham Palace
With Chevening Scholars Santi from Indonesia and Saovanee from Malaysia
With Chevening Scholars Santi from Indonesia and Saovanee from Malaysia

I know that the next ten months here is going to be an exhilarating, educational and immersive adventure because I am in the company of emerging leaders, studying at one of the greatest University and living in the most vibrant and exciting city in the world!

I would like to thank members of the British High Commission for this truly once in a lifetime opportunity to realize my dream.

Planning and Preparing for Chevening Application

I recall how little time I had in submitting the application for Chevening when

I recall how little time I had in submitting the application for Chevening when I did the application back in December as I was in between various travels and work assignments. I would like to take this opportunity to share the journey with prospective applicants whether you are applying for this round or the next or intend to apply one day.

One of the most important aspects of your application is the part where you write about your experience, the course you have selected and what you aim to do upon your return. It seems simple enough but I urge you to really ponder about it at a deeper level because your story will separate you from others. Think about how you have been of value to the workplace, community, and nation. And think about how you want to proceed to the next step of your career or life and how studying will help you get there. This is also an opportunity to discover yourself and things you can possibly do in the future with the experience you have amassed. It can get overwhelming to write a compelling case in limited words because there is the dilemma about what is and what isn’t important enough to include in the application. My advice is to compose your story in a way that articulates best your reason for choosing your area of study– the sort of experience you have in that area of study and what you think you will you learn from that course etc. When you are done writing your story, get two to three people to have a read and comment before you edit it. These people should include someone who either know you best, someone who can give you harsh, but constructive critcism (because you also need someone who doesn’t have to completely agree with you), and someone who doesn’t know you that well. Their comments will help you look at it from different perspectives.

The second part relates to the university and course options. Don’t take this for granted. Really take time to research all the courses available across the UK and find one that fits your aims best. Your course and university options will determine your motivation in excelling in the course and at the end of the day, your happiness! It is important at the Masters level for you to do what you really want to do as the university and course play a large role in shaping you and your goals.

Individuals you list as your references too will help in strengthening your candidacy. Remember that Chevening is looking for leadership qualities so it is critical to choose referees who can confirm this. Don’t be afraid to ask them to focus on a certain aspect especially relating to the course you are applying to and the relevance to your future and to also comment about yourself as an individual (beyond work). It is helpful to get a third referee on standby just in case!

Once you feel satisfied about your application, you can move on to submitting it with confidence! And after that, take the patience pill or forget you even applied because once you get to the interview stage (I believe sometime in March); the emotional rollercoaster will begin until you get the Final Award Letter. Good luck! If however you don’t get it this round, it just means that you have the opportunity to strengthen your application for the next round or the round after that! So use time to your advantage.

If you’re interested in applying for the 2014/15 Chevening Scholarship, visit the Brunei country page on the Chevening website for more information!

2 comments on “My Chevening Adventure

  1. @Fatin – Thank you for sharing your experiences. It is a great opportunity indeed and I could really use your experiences to prepare myself.
    I have applied for the 2015/16 scholarship and my interview is scheduled on 9th April.

  2. Wow, this is simply amazing. Your story touches me Fatin and I hope to get the opportunity to write on this platform some day. I am an Engineering student and I am presently applying for the 2015/2016 Chevening Scholarship. Answering the application questions has not been easy, but your write up has shed light on it. I wish you all the best during your study year.

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