Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Scholarship - Starting a New Life!

Finally it came. THE LETTER! For the past six months I had jumped through various hoops for this. First an extremely long drawn out application form. Then the dreaded written exam. Three papers of an hour each. One paper so lengthy that I couldn't even finish (but I was glad to find out that no one else did either). And finally there had been that interview. The fourteen year old me and five interviewers, two of them principals of schools in Singapore, I later learnt. For half an hour I had discussed the randomest of things. From why my math scores were not high in the written test, to Indian cricket team, my favourite authors and surprisingly, yoga.

The letter had the result. It was going to be the answer of whether or not I had succeeded in impressing the interviewers. I opened it with trembling hands but in a hurry. I could not wait to find out! 

"We are pleased to offer you the A*STAR India Youth Scholarship for four years of study in Singapore..." I could not believe it! To say I was overjoyed would be an understatement. My joy knew no bounds. This was to be the start of a new life. I had to reply to them within a week stating if I was accepting the scholarship.

"Will you be able to stay away from home for that long?" "Will you be able to manage on your own in a foreign land?" "Why do you want to go to Singapore? What does your present school in Mumbai not have that you shall get there?" "There must be some catch!" The naysayers were soon trying to rain all over my parade. They soon managed to plant seeds of doubt in my mind as well because not all of their concerns were misplaced. I had never stayed away from home, away from family for more than a couple of weeks. I had never ever gone abroad even on a holiday. I had no reference to assure myself that I shall make it in that Pardes-land. There was no way to know whether I shall be able to cope with the academics there either. 

But, living your boring life is easy, starting afresh is much more exciting! I had no answers to life's big questions, whether I shall cope, whether the classmates shall bully me, whether I shall miss home too much. I just did not know these things. What I did is focused on the little things. Singapore has some of the world's best cuisine. You can get chinese, malay, Indian, western, peranakan, and every other type of food there. I looked up pictures of typically Singaporean delights such as satay, chilli crab and laksa. I also thought of how I could sleep in till late in the morning and stay up till at night if I had no family chasing after me. Full season TV show marathon could be a reality! That time in 2006, Singapore telcos were already introducing 3G when the concept of internet on phones (regardless of slow or fast) was unimaginable for most people in India. I focused on the small things and made up my mind. I was going to take the plunge, begin an adventure, start a new life. I accepted the scholarship!


Also check out Housing.com and their Start a New Life Campaign video!

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