Making my Way to the U.K., A Journey of Serendipity

When I stepped my feet for the very first time in London, I was vibrant. The fatigue of a seventeen-hour flight from Bali to London plus another five-hour layover in Hong Kong International Airport was soon dismissed by the excitement. I looked around and was mesmerized by the fact that I would start my new journey in a foreign land, yet it still seemed unreal. I couldn’t believe that I had come this far.

While a scholarship itself is a mystery, my Chevening scholarship journey is a serendipity.

One thing for sure is that I have always been wanting to study abroad. It has always been on top of my priority list. I started to apply for scholarships in 2013 including Australian Award Scholarships, New Zealand Development Scholarship, Fullbright Scholarship. None of them were successful. Email after email announcing that my applications hadn’t gone though were very common scenarios. In 2016, I decided to apply for scholarships to Australia and New Zealand for the last time before I started a family to meet my parents’ and girlfriend’s expectation. It sounds very Balinese indeed.

My third application to Australian Awards Scholarship and my second application to New Zealand Application Development vanished after I got an email in July 2016 saying that my applications were not successful.

I didn’t have a chance to even be invited for the interview. I was so desperate because that year was my last year to apply for the scholarship as I promised my partner. I didn’t give up. I looked for other full-funded scholarships in English-speaking countries in that year. I then stumbled upon Chevening Scholarship from the U.K. government opening in September 2016. I didn’t expect much about this scholarship as it’s known for its competitiveness and limited quotas.

But then, life is unpredictable and so is scholarship. I was surprised enough to get this email one morning.

“Re: Indonesia Chevening Scholarships, 2017 – 2018

Dear Made,

We are pleased to inform you that your application for a Chevening award has been progressed to the next stage of the selection process. You have been selected by the British Embassy in Jakarta to attend an interview.

Please log into the online application centre and take the following actions:

  1. Schedule your interview. Interview slots are limited, and available on a first-come-first served basis. We therefore suggest you schedule your interview slot as soon as possible. Please note that telephone or skype interviews are not permitted, and you must attend a face-to-face interview in the country that they are applying from in order to be considered for a Chevening award.
  2. Upload your references. You must upload two references to support your application by Monday 27 February 12:00 GMT. References are an integral part of the selection process and if you do not submit two references then your application will not be considered. Further information is available in our References Guidance.
  3. Provide your education documents– You must ensure you have uploaded your undergraduate degree certificate or transcript by the deadline of Monday 27 February at 12:00 GMT. You can also upload any postgraduate qualifications.
  4. Complete your biography. You are asked to complete a short biography and upload a picture by the deadline of Monday 27 February at 12:00 GMT.

Kind Regards,
The Chevening Secretariat”

I was not excited just yet. I knew it was just an invitation for interview, still long way to go. I heard a lot of stories where they got an interview invitation, but they didn’t make it till the end. So while I was waiting for the interview result, I prepared myself to apply for Working Holiday Visa in Australia. If I couldn’t study, at least I could spend a year abroad to work and travel I thought. Yet, another email was coming from the Chevening Secretariat.

“Dear Made,

We are delighted to inform you that the selection panel was very impressed with your application and interview and have conditionally selected you for a 2017-18 Chevening Award. Chevening Awards are prestigious and highly competitive so congratulations on reaching this stage!

You will now be progressed to the final stages of the award process. A Programme Officer from the Chevening Secretariat in London will be in touch with you via email shortly and will be your main point of contact from now until the completion of your award. Your Programme Officer will be able to answer any questions you may have, such as university admissions or travel arrangements to the UK. Comprehensive visa guidance will be available on the website. Please do not be concerned if there is a short delay from when you receive this email to when your Programme Officer contacts you. They will be preparing your placement documents and will email you in due course.


I started to get pumped. I jumped and screamed with excitement in my room. Even though the next few steps were not hassle-free, I managed to get through to the end, holding this sacred letter in my hand that confirmed my scholarship.

I am finally here in the UK now. In my first week, I really appreciate every step I take and every moment I experience. I often look at my window see a big Cathedral and Chelmsford city doubting myself that my dream has finally come true.

I considered myself as an ambitious person sometimes. I push myself to get what I want. I am a strong believer in Law of Attraction in which I need to focus and visualize my dreams to make them happen. Now I realize that sometimes I have to accept where life takes me because this bizarre world is full of serendipity.

2 Replies to “Making my Way to the U.K., A Journey of Serendipity”

  1. Hi Made Soma,
    Trust you are well. I am glad i found this article. I have been invited for the interview and have already scheduled one next month. However regarding the “Completion your biography and uploading of picture” may I know where and when I am supposed to do it? I cant locate this section in the online portal.

    1. Hi Lily,
      I am sorry for my super late reply. I honestly forgot how I did that one, and the application portal slightly changes every year. So I am afraid I can’t help. However, you can contact the chevening team. Good luck!

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