Antonia Morena Olivares, a BA Politics & International Relations student, writes about the Go Abroad opportunities she has participated in as a Goldsmiths student – and why you should get involved!
Now that you are starting a new academic year at Goldsmiths, I want you to know about a special perk that the uni offers. So you can enjoy Uni as much as possible, especially during these unconventional times. This perk is The Go Abroad Programme.
I am Antonia, a recent graduate from Politics and International Relations. And I participated in this programme this summer. I am a little bit frustrated because I only got to know about the programme during my last year at Goldsmiths, I wish I knew about it earlier. But to be honest, it came at the perfect timing: lockdown. During quarantine, I made more international friends from the comfort of my couch, than I probably did before covid-19. And this is thanks to the virtual global opportunities offered by Goldsmiths.
Let me tell you a little bit about the Go Abroad Programme. Its aim is for students to acquire international experience, either through volunteering, studying or working abroad. Usually, students apply for funding to study for a semester abroad on an Erasmus placement or study, work or volunteer during the summer holidays in another country. However due to Covid-19, these opportunities have transformed into an accessible and diverse virtual environment.
The Global Virtual Opportunities https://www.gold.ac.uk/students/go-abroad/virtually/ range from Erasmus Virtual Exchanges to fully funded scholarships by Santander for summer courses at universities such as Georgetown University in Washington D.C.
I actually engaged in these two. I signed up for an Erasmus Virtual Exchange on the topic of Countering Hate Speech. Over 6 weeks I learned about it from The Sharing Perspectives Foundation in Germany and I met people from all around the world each Saturday on the virtual learning space to discuss and dialogue about it. I talk more in depth about this experience in this Instagram live https://www.instagram.com/p/CE4BCE1HnIy/. In this live, I talk about this experience with Roxana, my new friend, we met in this exchange. While I was in quarantine in London, she was joining the course from Italy.
However, my experience did not end there. I also ventured into the Santander Scholarships programme that was promoted by the Global Virtual Opportunities. I applied to complete a short course at Georgetown University called Social Innovation and Enhancing Financial Inclusion in the Digital Age. The process to apply was surprisingly easy for such a competitive opportunity. I first created an account on the Santander Becas Portal https://www.becas-santander.com and applied directly to the university. For the application I needed: my grades , my C.V, a professor’s letter of recommendation and a 500 words essay on why this course was significant to me.
I must agree that it might be a little bit intimidating to ask a professor for a recommendation letter. Especially because in the current situation we do not connect with professors as much as we would do if we had face to face lectures, but do not be shy, email different professors explaining what you are applying for, why is it is important to you and if they could kindly write a letter of recommendation for you as it is a requisite to apply. In my case, I emailed the professor of one of my best modules. I often participated in her seminar and therefore she knew me well. This allowed her to write a more complete and honest letter. Don’t by shy! Opportunities like this are worth it!
A couple of months later I was notified that I had been granted one of the 52 global scholarships. Each scholarship granted was carefully selected from many applications from people all around the world. My colleges were from Spain, Argentina, Chile, the UK, Colombia, and other countries. We all had different academic backgrounds, from economists to doctors.
For me, the most significant part of participating in this virtual global opportunity is that I got a global perspective on global issues. By this I mean, learning about social innovation and financial inclusion from such diverse group of people, including professors who were leaders in their field, gave me a very complete perspective of the issues we face and the possible solutions I could be part of! In a globalised world, having a global perspective of global issues is invaluable. Among my colleagues were people both from the developed world as well as developing countries, they were doctors, economists, financial experts, computer scientists, app developers, mathematicians and entrepreneurs. Together, we thought of well-rounded solutions to global issues. This is invaluable but difficult to achieve, as it is not every day that you can have a global environment with leaders on these fields in the same place for the same purpose. This is why I really insist you take advance of the global virtual opportunities Goldsmiths facilitates for you.
My first advice to you is to organise your term time early and participate in a Erasmus virtual exchange (free and accessible to everybody) that enrich the topics of your favourite module! It will enrich your seminars and help you write better essays as well as making new friends.
My second advice to you, is to plan your summer term in advance and apply early for those opportunities that you require funding for! The timing prior your exams, right before summer, you will be too busy to do so!
P.D: good luck! You got this!
To check out the Santander funded opportunities visit: https://www.becas-santander.com/en
To find out more about Santander Universities visit: https://www.santander.co.uk/universities