The process of searching for scholarships to study locally and abroad is more or less the same. However, you need to put in more thought when applying for scholarships to study overseas.
Studying overseas is a wonderful opportunity to build your knowledge beyond academics. Foreign governments, international organisations, and local and multinational corporations award scholarships for overseas study. Some scholarship providers may already have specific countries and courses which they will sponsor you for, while others will provide funding for any course anywhere.
You must be prepared to explain why studying your chosen course overseas is the wisest investment of your time and the benefactors’ money. Have a clear idea of your goals and what you intend to do when you obtain your qualifications.
When applying, stress your interest and proficiency in a particular subject or language. Scholarships from foreign governments, in particular, will require you to have a good grasp of their national language or undergo intensive classes to learn the basics. Usually, you will be required to return to your home country or be involved in international projects when you complete your studies.
Know what’s covered and what’s not
In general, most scholarships for study abroad will cover:
- tuition fees
- allowance for books, stationery and other course-related necessities
- return airfare to and from the country where the institution is located
- a one-time ‘establishment’ allowance to cover your basic expenses when you first arrive in the foreign country
- a modest travel and living allowance.
However, some scholarships may cover only tuition fees, return airfare and accommodations, leaving it up to you to find the funding for other necessities on your own. Things like travel costs, winter clothing and even food can be expensive. Be sure to review the scholarship options carefully, and ensure you have sufficient funds of your own for necessities not covered by the scholarship.
Choose a course wisely
Before you start looking for a scholarship, research the universities and countries where you would like to pursue your education. Ensure the course fulfils all your requirements. If you are studying a medical or law course, make sure that your course is recognised by the relevant professional bodies in Malaysia.
Also remember to research the reputation of the institution, education and living costs, allowed working hours for foreign students if any, and the general living conditions as it will be hard to bail out if you change your mind.
Once you have narrowed down your options, contact the institution to obtain application forms and to inquire about available scholarship opportunities. Apply for your desired course and start looking for scholarships immediately. Note that some scholarships may also require you to have already been accepted by the overseas university.
Things to consider
- Being away from family and friends
- Not having your support system around can be a challenge, especially if you have never lived on your own before. A new circle of friends can be a temporary patch, but may not guarantee the same amount of security as one would have back home.
- Living on your own includes managing your expenses, doing your own laundry, paying bills etc. The cost of living may fluctuate with the tides of the economy, so spend wisely.
- Cultural differences and adapting to new environments
- Find out as much as you can about the country before leaving to minimise culture shock. Most scholarships for overseas studies will require you to get involved in cultural exchange projects, which will help. Most importantly, go with an open mind.