In an era of quickly advancing knowledge, millennials are becoming fully aware of the importance of advancing one’s education and technical skills. More professionals are taking up postgraduate degrees which show that we value learning as a tool in improving our lives and making an impact in our chosen professions. However, the cost of education is also on the rise – proportional to the demand.
I am one of those who believes that learning never stops and more discoveries lead to more uncertainties. When I was in my undergraduate years, it has always been my dream to pursue higher education preferably abroad because of the different quality of education and the experience to interact and live with culturally diverse individuals. But, I cannot personally finance studying abroad because it is obviously expensive. I know that I can only fulfill this dream through scholarships. Name the biggest and the grandest scholarship grants and I am familiar with their application processes if not well-versed.
I came to know the Erasmus Mundus through one of my friends back in the university who was accepted as a full scholar. I was so amazed by the one-of-a-kind opportunity to study and travel at the same time. From then on, I tailored my work experience to suit the programs that I would like to apply for. The truth is I already know the IMFSE three years ago. Being in the realm of the built environment which I was so fond of that I took up civil engineering, I dreamt of applying for this master’s degree. Fire safety engineering is relatively young and there are only few experts in this field. The consortium universities belong to the best in the world and there is mobility – a unique characteristic of Erasmus Mundus – wherein a student has the opportunity to attend several educational institutions. Lastly, it is in Europe. Who would not want to experience living the European dream?
I set aside this dream for a while to gain professional experience. I applied for a job as a structural design engineer. During my interview, the supervisor asked me what my future plans are. I answered, “In two to three years, I will be applying for a scholarship to study abroad.” He asked me what field for which I was quick to answer, “fire engineering with focus on structures.” I applied for the IMFSE secretly so as not to preempt the situation, taking leave of absences to complete all the requirements.
When I received the email that I was shortlisted for the interview, I told myself that this is a make-or-break, I need to prepare a lot and make the most out of the 30-minute allotted time because it is a competition after all. Days before the interview, I still do not have any idea of what am I going to say. Then, three nights before the interview day, I was watching the television when a documentary about the status of fire safety in the Philippines was being shown. Suddenly, I saw light and gained hope. I jotted down notes trying to filter as much details as possible. I asked myself, “Is this the universe’s way of helping me?”
P.S.: Tune-in for Part 2 of this article! 🙂