“Chevener one year but Chevening my whole life”

A dream comes true…

Suddenly there’s a day when all your effort is rewarded and you start receiving blessings. For me, it happened at 6 am on June 6th exactly when I got an email from Chevening saying “we are delighted to inform you that the selection panel was very impressed with your application and interview and have conditionally selected you for a 2018-19 Chevening Award”. I could not believe it was for real until I woke up in 44 Regent Street, Exeter, UK, on September 13th. At that moment, I realised that my dream of studying in one of the best destinations on earth, United Kingdom, was becoming true.

Learning the English language

I have to say that before this my relationship with England was through Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. I studied acting for 4 years so reading novels and screenplays were part of my hobbies. Furthermore, I grew up seeing my dad being a fan of The Beatles and Elton John. Silently I became a fan of them too, even though by that time I did not know how to pronounce “Beatles” properly, “Let it be” and “Your Song” enamoured me. I dreamt that one day I was going to be able to understand the lyrics. My parents couldn’t afford a bilingual private school, so most of my knowledge of the language was self-learning and later on my mom enrolled me in an English Language Institute.

Once I became a self-sustainable adult, I remember taking vacations to go abroad to take intensive workshops in business English, English communication skills, grammar, and spelling; buying novels and watching tv shows and movies spoken and subtitled in English too. I made improvements year over year. Until one day, I decided I was ready to take the challenge of studying my specialty in English. I remember searching for programs on the internet, and the best options found related to Film Business, Marketing and Film Distribution specialties, which were my main interests, were better ranked in universities in the United Kingdom. I was craving for it but I found it so impossible to achieve it that I was expecting to be rejected, and guess what? I was rejected!

Applying for the Chevening Scholarship

But my mom is my heroine and she pushed me to try again better prepared and strongly focused on the goal. Furthermore, I had heard about Chevening from a friend who was a former Chevener. She encouraged me to apply. Despite I thought it was a scholarship for ‘genius’, highly competitive and, again my negative thoughts playing in my brain, I felt it was going to be unlikely to reach it. However, an interior voice kept talking to me like whispering to me “keep on it don’t give up”. I followed my instincts, took the chance and the rest is history.

Enjoying Exeter

Full of fear, doubts, and expectations I submerged myself through this trip. I recall how hard was the beginning for me, the battle of my ears to getting used to the accent, the number of readings and assignments I had to fulfil, struggling with ELE to submit my papers on time. The diversity within my cohorts as well as living with people from different nationalities and the list goes and goes on. Even though I can tell it hasn’t been easy, it has been totally worth it. I’ve known ‘strangers’ who have become family, I have nourished from lecturers and professors with outstanding expertise and background. I’ve engaged with debates in class and learning how respectfully disagree with others, to give the extra mile of myself to stand out in my presentations and projects. I knew I was travelling in first-class in accessing global knowledge and I couldn’t let myself down. The University of Exeter is ranked as one of the most prestigious public universities in the UK and the MA in International Film Business is a complete program for people looking for developing their business potential, marketing, and film distribution strategies. It’s very demanding but rewarding.

Chevening is the best scholarship you can ever apply. It’s more than funding the master of your dream it’s an entire community able to support you. Chevening offers a variety of opportunities to boost your leadership and networking abilities, it enhances your confidence and on the top of that, it takes us through the history, culture and British heritage to appreciate the United Kingdom from a wider perspective. I feel proud and honoured to be part of this community. “Chevener one year but Chevening the whole life” because the prestige to belong to the Chevening Alumni Network with over 47,000 members around the world will keep me tied for the rest of my life.

Chevening and my whole experience in the UK have helped to realise that I’m able to accomplish any goal if I work hard, that my success depends on my effort. Being away from home has given me the chance to know myself, my strengths and weaknesses but my challenges and opportunities as well. Now that I’m almost saying goodbye, I’ve realised how much I’ve changed. If I travelled through the past, I’d repeat this experience 100 times again. I feel with the qualifications to contribute to the transformation of my country, especially in the film industry field. I’m ready to face my present and future more confident, more positive, humbler and more human. Thank you to the University of Exeter and Chevening for such an amazing and unforgettable year. Henceforth, “let’s go and lets God”.

By Alexandra Santana Padilla
From the Caribbean (Dominican Republic) and conquering my dream in the UK

   August 8th, 2019    Miscellaneous

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