Aartie is South African and moved to the UK on a Chevening Scholarship. She has studied at the University of Johannesburg and has worked in media in South Africa. Hear what Aartie has to say.
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This scholarship made it possible for me to have a year studying in London.
I would say studying in London has been an amazing opportunity, because it allowed me access to a global network of academics, as well as just engaging with people and students from all over the world – from India, from Pakistan, from the UK, and from the USA – and in that sense I think I got a global education rather than a particular area based education. I think this makes London and studying in London, different from studying in South Africa which is much more locally based.
Also in terms of accessibility, I think the scholarship allowed me to have a year in London, and it was fully paid, this would not have been possible for me to do in South Africa because studying in South Africa is quite expensive.
How easy was it for you to research scholarship opportunities?
I found it quite easy to research scholarship opportunities because I had access to internet connection and my own laptop which made the process much simpler. I found particular scholarship through a google search on a website called NGO scholarships for development, which is specifically related to developing countries and scholarships that are accessible related to developing countries.
However, if I had not had access to internet connection or a laptop, I think it would have been quite difficult to have the same accessibility.
What does a scholarship mean to you?
Having a scholarship means so much to me, in a sense that it gave me access to an opportunity in a foreign country, in the UK, that I would not have had if I didn’t have this scholarship.
Not only did it give me access to education, it gave me an experience of living in a different city, on interacting with people from this so -called developed world, and something I would not have had access to if I hadn’t had the scholarship.
It also gave me networking opportunities to meet people from different universities, different fields and thus allowing me to build a network of people in my particular area of expertise.
What inspired you to look for a scholarship?
I was inspired to look for a scholarship to study abroad particularly because I wanted to further my education, and it would not have been possible for me to do so because I didn’t not have any funding to do so in South Africa.
It would have been difficult for me to study part time, and still have a full-time job, maintain paying bills, and obviously living expenses. I decided then to look for a scholarship which would give me access, not only to an education, but also an international education that’s also giving me a competitive advantage when I do return to my home country in South Africa.
What advice would you give to younger students who are about to start looking for scholarship opportunities?
It’s never too late to start researching scholarship opportunities, there are so many opportunities out there for students in Africa. There are people looking for students from other parts of the world. The only thing you need to do is ensure you research those opportunities and make sure that you have all those requirements in place, and also speak to people from the field.
Someone like myself, now I am a Chevening alumni, I am more than willing to help people if they reach out and there are always people willing to help and give advice on how you can gain scholarship opportunities.
What is your current experience of studying at a university outside sub-Saharan Africa?
My experience of studying at a university outside of South Africa has been one extremely amazing opportunity. Particularly because it allowed me access to global academic, academics from around the world. Also what I quite enjoyed is the amount of talk events and discussions that these universities have. For example at LSE we had weekly talks on gender, but with experts not only from LSE but we also had experts from America and other parts of the world coming to talk to us.
I think in that sense, it really pens the door for global knowledge, and acquiring global knowledge which South Africa does not have such opportunities, I think those opportunities are not as common in the university space and I definitely think that is something that should be worked on more.
What are your aspirations for the future?
My aspirations for the future are to become an expert in gender, and gender justice. Particularly I’m quite passionate about gender justice story telling. I believe in telling stories about gender equality, about sexual violence, violence against women, LBGT rights. I really want to make a difference in terms of advocacy and communications, working with grass root organisations in South Africa and helping them to get some of the stories that they cover, and they do – all the great stories that are made possible in the NGOs. I want to get coverage globally, but at the same time I want to raise awareness about gender rights issues in South Africa, and in sub-Saharan Africa, because I believe we need to make more of a noise about it globally, and these issues cannot be ignored.