Kenya to China: Story of attaining my dream scholarship.

Kenya to China: Story of attaining my dream scholarship.

Who am I, and why a scholarship in China?

Hello, my name is Stella Andenyi, I am a recipient of the Chinese Government Outstanding International Student Scholarship in 2020, an achievement I am immensely proud of. Straight off the bat, I can bet you know that feeling of absolute certainty. There are no facts around it, you simply know that you know. I knew for sure that I was going to do my Master’s Degree abroad. I didn’t know where, but I was pretty open to Asian countries. First,  I was very curious about the Asian countries, this was the same time the Chinese started coming into Kenya and were taking up huge projects around the country. Second, some of my relatives had been to China, so there was some increased fascination. Third, I did not want to go to the Western side either Europe or America because it felt too hard, expensive, and emotionally draining.

My mind had been made up on pursuing my scholarship in China. At that time, China was also giving out very good scholarships that did not have too many requirements especially to applicants from Kenya.

Initial process of my scholarship application.

I initially started the process in the year 2017, a friend of mine who had already gone through this process before, gave me important guidelines on what I had to do.

The first thing I had to do was visit the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) Website, from where I could pick out the specific courses I wanted and they would then match me with schools that offered those courses. I also had to visit the specific schools’ websites and find out when the application dates were. Unfortunately for me, by the time I had finished going through the process and narrowing down the 3 courses I felt interested me, I had already missed the deadline. I resolved not to miss the next deadline so I prepared all my documents for the next one.

What I needed to do was:

  • Write personal statements to my school and a motivation letter to the Council.
  • Get a health check (strictly valid for 6 months).
  • Make sure my passport is ready.
  • Fill in the forms on the website, download them, print them and send them out.
  • Get my documents notarized – they had to be certified.

I sent all the documents and the waiting game began. The first response came in July and sadly, it was a rejection but I decided not to give up. About 2 months later, on the 1st of August I got another response; this time it was an offer for a partial scholarship but I needed to be there by the 9th of September, just about a month later. A new challenge was presented; getting all these things in order and making plans to be there on time.

Getting to China.

At this point, I had already chosen my course, applied, gotten a rejection, and later offered a partial scholarship and the school now needed me to report in the next 1 month and 8 days, the chaos had officially started!

What i had to do in preparation.

First, I  started checking what I needed and what I had to give out. I gave out a lot of clothes. As I also packed, I put the climate of the school location into consideration. I also considered the location of the school in terms of security and if anything was to go wrong, I would be able to safely get in and out of China.

Second, I had to get my Visa. The next available slot at the Chinese Embassy was 3 weeks away; which would thoroughly affect my schedule. Third, I needed to look for a flight. We initially thought the airfare was part of the scholarship, but it was not. I had to sort out my airfare and living expenses during my scholarship period in China. Thankfully, my family helped clear my airfare. We had to organize a fundraiser and at that time a lot of changes were happening in my family. We were in the process of moving houses; so I had two types of packing to take care of.

We also needed to sort out the issue of Money transfer from Kenya to China. I had a lot on my plate at the moment, and I was doing several errands at the same time and a lot had to be done in a very short period.

When my Visa appointment date finally came, there were hitches. I didn’t have a particular document and I had to book the next available slot. They also told me to tell my school to resend a document which would take more time. I was also told to tell my school to send a confirmation email to the embassy in Kenya to confirm that I was the person invited to be a student there.

Sadly, my time was not enough to get all that done and finally get to school. Thankfully, some schools offer a 3 week window period for reporting. I reported just as the 3-week window was about to end. Now, my journey to China had started; and as a small tip to flying internationally; do not lose your Passport and always have copies of it in your email and have it sent to your phone.

I also had to make sure my phone line would still work if I ever come back because it just might not work when I am abroad.

My flight was smooth, I did not get airsick and I landed in good health, but this might be an entirely different experience for anyone else.

Now, having finally gotten there I also had to deal with new experiences and culture shock, especially the new level of efficiency and diversity I experienced there. For example, I experienced that 10-kilometre roads would be built overnight. I would request for my bathroom handle to get fixed and it would get done in 7 minutes. Can you imagine!

My experience in China was a crash course in first-world efficiency and multi-cultural collaboration. There is something utterly remarkable about studying abroad that I wish more people experienced. 

Here’s what I learned from the entire experience:

  1. Seeking the valuable advice and guidance of more experienced people
  2. Dealing with rejection and moving on from there.
  3. How to deal with the pressure of dealing with many things at once stretched over a short time.
  4. How to prepare psychologically for new life experiences.
  5. Dealing with culture shock and just basically blending in with a new culture and getting used to how things are done differently from your norm.

Things I wish I knew beforehand: 

I also have some things and important tips I wish I knew or someone had told me before starting my scholarship application in China. Stuff such as:

  1. How to choose your scholarship, apply and write all the needed essays.
  2. After getting the scholarship, how to get everythig you need in order.
  3. How to get all your documents notarized.
  4. Doing thorough research on your school and the location of the school to get prepared for the climate, culture and eventualities. Getting everything regarding any needed finances in order.
  5. How to prepare for your journey

I wish someone had told me what to expect before, during, and after. 

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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