Beyond a Free Masters: the Chevening Experience |
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Posted on 7 Jul '22

Beyond a Free Masters: the Chevening Experience

In celebration of India's 75th year of Independence in 2022 the UK government has partnered with multiple leading businesses in India to offer 75 new fully funded scholarships to Indian students wishing to study in the UK from September. Many of these new scholarships are part of the Chevening programme which helps professionals from around the world to study in the UK. These scholarships include full tuition, living expenses and travel costs for a one-year Masters degree. If you're interested in reading more about Chevening scholarships you can have a read of our guide.

The UK had always held a certain charm in my household in Malaysia. I grew up reading English literature and other books from the UK. I had friends whose parents had studied in London – yes, studying in London gave you a lot of bragging rights back then. It should be no surprise that I too harboured a dream to study in the UK. I decided to give the Chevening scholarship application a shot and next thing I know, I’m on my way to start my Masters in the UK!

Now, if you’re planning for postgraduate study here in Britain, you may have already heard about the scholarship. Previously, I wrote on the selection process and tips to apply. This time, I thought I’d share my views on the Chevening experience, what it is all about and hopefully convince you to give the scholarship a go. Here’s what I think Chevening has to offer, beyond the fully funded Masters of course!

Connections with fellow scholars

I consider this among the most valuable experiences Chevening has to offer. Of course it’s impossible to befriend every single scholar in your cohort, but the Chevening connection ensures that you will have a contact somewhere in the world. My social media feeds are far more engaging now, with interesting perspectives from parts of Asia, South America, Africa and the Balkans. Connections like these will also continue long after we finish our Masters, thanks to the alumni network. Many scholars go on to form collaborations to advocate all sorts of causes.

Living the UK culture

We do have our busy moments, especially during the exam season, but the Chevening experience is not all work and no play. Events are organised for us every month across the UK, which are free or for a reasonable fee. One memorable event I attended was the Burns Night ceilidh in Glasgow, where we danced to Scottish folk songs and ate haggis! I find it difficult to plan events on my own because of my demanding academic schedule, so the events for scholars are a blessing.

Explore the UK

Let’s face it, how many of us have explored a country as tourists and left without seeing everything it has to offer? Scholars must be resident in the UK for one year, so I have the chance to explore areas that I might not have considered or heard of before. I’m based in Sheffield so I have the Peak District at my doorstep, and the Lake District a train ride away - places that I might not have visited if I had come to the UK as a tourist. I also get to visit lesser-known cities and towns while receiving ‘insider tips’ (and free lodging!) from fellow scholars based there.

Cultural exchange

This is one of my favourite parts of the whole Chevening experience. Our welcome reception in London was the most diverse gathering I’d seen, and I’m from a multicultural country so that’s saying a lot. Scholars from 168 countries showcased the best of their cultures through attire, song and dance. Some of them came from countries that I had never heard of! Events like this are a good chance to learn something about the rest of the world, as scholars are all too happy to talk about their respective cultures, and countries.

Paying it forward

I’ll admit, volunteering is not a deeply ingrained culture where I’m from, but in the UK it is highly encouraged. Chevening has a community volunteering and outreach programme, which gets scholars involved in one-off projects and / or long-term engagement with selected organisations. I joined one of its projects in Sheffield – a scavenger hunt to ‘blag’ for essentials for the homeless community, giving me first-hand experience of how difficult life is for homeless people, especially in the harsh winter conditions.

Academic excellence with added values

Good grades are definitely the aim for all scholars, but our postgraduate qualification should also be supported by additional skills. Chevening collaborates with other organisations to provide scholars with access to events that will help develop our leadership and networking abilities, such as conferences, workshops and keynote addresses by notable personalities. I found that I was able to take up a language class during my semester, which will help advance my career prospects when I return to my home country.

If you’re hoping for similar experiences and opportunities while studying for your Masters in the UK, do apply for the Chevening scholarship! I’ve also given the lowdown on the selection process and top application tips from personal experience in another blog post, so feel free to check that out. May your UK journey be as life-changing as mine!

Editor's note: This blog was first published on 22/02/19. We've checked and updated it for current readers.

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Last updated: 07 July 2022