Before coming to Australia to study, I was working as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for WWF Nepal. From my early school days, I had a deep concern for various environmental issues, and I firmly believe that everyone has a responsibility to contribute towards making the world a better place to live.
While my work was incredibly rewarding, I was looking to expand my horizons internationally. I was fortunate to receive an Australian Awards Scholarship, and even more honoured to be featured as the "face of" the Australia Awards - Nepal promotions for the study commencing in 2020.
Studying in Australia has been a wonderful experience, and I have lots of tips to share if you’re looking to apply for a scholarship.
After I studied Environmental Science for my Bachelors degree and my Masters degree in Nepal, I worked in roles that know and care about the environment.
As I began my work and got the chance to meet colleagues from other countries (the United States and Australia), I was moved by their way of thinking and analysing a situation through a multi-disciplinary approach. Since then, I have craved an international degree or an international learning experience, to broaden my academic knowledge and attain an international perspective on different environmental issues.
I explored several scholarship programs and then a friend recommended Australia Awards. I began to research about Australia Awards and the application process. It was the prestige of Australia Awards—recognised as one of the best scholarships offered in Nepal—that motivated me the most.
Apart from the opportunity to study in one of Australia’s best universities, I was attracted by other benefits such as networking opportunities with academics and colleagues from across the globe which I believed would enhance my leadership and problem-solving abilities.
It is both the prestige associated with the Scholarship and the opportunity to be part of this intellectual network that motivated me to apply for an Australia Awards Scholarship.
For me, one of the best parts of the Australia Awards Scholarship application process was the information session.
Following my friend’s suggestion, I attended an information session in Kathmandu, and that helped me a lot to understand and evaluate the Dos and Don’ts for the application process. Had I not attended the session, I would have just thought that the Scholarship is mostly for Government employees (which it isn’t) and not even applied for it.
The information provided on the website was also simple and clear. Overall, it was the information seminar that I would say implanted the positivity that I could go through the entire application process and get it done.
The Scholarship application, in itself, is a challenging task that requires seriousness and commitment. While working, I had to set out some time for the application.
I printed the requirements list and I gave myself a deadline each Sunday to finish one of the requirements. Once done, I would go back to the list and tick it off. Selecting the university was another tough task. But having the criteria of “what to study” and “where to study” helped me narrow down two universities offering the course of my interest.
Some of the tips from my experience would be:
The Australia Awards alumni network is growing bigger. If you can, get connected with previous scholars. Their experience will help you in your task.
There might be times when you think, “it is so time-consuming”, “I don’t think I’m on track” or even “I can’t do it”. DO NOT GIVE UP. Three months is quite enough to get all things done. So, start early and just believe that you can do it.
Don’t wait until the day of the deadline to finish.
After the first round of selections, I was in regular touch with the Australia Awards team. I felt that they made everything systematic. Following the selection, there was an orientation session to shed light on the next steps and visa application. The information disseminated in the session was helpful to proceed further in the application.
Australia Awards was proactive in processing our applications well before time, so we did not have to panic about getting a visa on time. The pre-departure briefing is something that I still remember and relate to at times, which was helpful in so many ways to understand that my life was going to change!
The team ensured our safe travel to Australia, and once in Melbourne, the Australia Awards team was waiting to accompany us. Australia Awards put in a lot of effort to ensure that everything worked as planned and I really appreciate the entire process.
My journey in Australia has been adventurous. Leaving behind my professional hat, getting back to the students’ seats and doing assignments was difficult in the first semester. I remember our pre-departure briefing where we were told to, “Expect a lot of procrastination”. I feel that is so true. But as the semester progressed, I started feeling more comfortable and confident.
Apart from study, there were several things to enjoy, like sitting on the lawn with a new friend, discussing their history and culture, and sharing the experience of living in Melbourne. The Australia Awards club in my university arranged trips to different parts of Melbourne, almost every month. It felt great and fulfilling to travel to new places and meet new people—they were nice, compassionate and easy to get along with. Every day, there was something new and exciting to learn.
The best part about being in Australia is my learning experience. It feels great to be studying in one of the top universities in Australia, and there are some subjects that I really like and received good grades in.
Coming from a different learning culture, adapting to a new teaching style and yet being able to get a Distinction — I perceive that as a significant achievement. In addition, throughout my course, I have gathered both theoretical knowledge and practical skills, including the skill of observing and analysing situations. For example, different tutorials, accompanied by field trips, enabled me to understand the different aspects of water resource management.
Making lifelong friends and knowing different teaching faculty and academics, researchers, professionals and colleagues from different countries is another achievement. I am committed to remaining in touch with them, even after I return home to Nepal, to brainstorm ideas regarding how to solve different environmental issues.
From my experience in Australia, I realise that there is still some room for improvement regarding environment-related knowledge generation in my country.
In Nepal, I want to engage in research to support knowledge generation on different environmental issues, especially on water resources and their management.
Furthermore, I plan to share the knowledge I gained in Australia to contribute to better planning and management of water resources in my country. I intend to utilise and expand on the current network of academics, researchers, policymakers and professionals working on the environment and water sector in Nepal to build synergies with them for betterment of the sector through research-based and informed policy reforms.
Australia Awards has become the turning point of my life. It has been the best opportunity to explore the international arena and a great learning experience. I feel more confident and empowered. At the same time, I feel more responsible as well as motivated to contribute to addressing environmental challenges and thereby make a difference.