Don't Feel Small, be Brave Faizah !


On my last day in Balikpapan (in my previous office), I ask to my staff to take this picture. a picture who speaks loudly about my future plan right after my resignation. 

Since beginning of my career in State-Owned Enterprise, my vision is clear : I build a strong portfolio, be critical engineer, then find sexy problem who will be my story to make a personal statement and motivation letter, then find two strong key players to write a recommendation for me. 

After all the requirement process is done, I take an IELTS test. next is to apply for University admission and scholarship. the plan is perfect, so that is time to resign. 

But you know what ? that's perfectly planned is set up due to covering up my wounded soul. you know my past, I experienced moving from Surabaya to Samarinda while my undergraduate degree is not completed yet. I continue my degree in Samarinda, at the university when toxic and bullying culture still alive, spreading across all the university (including the faculty). that time is really struggling and full of tears. until finally I graduate as the highest GPA among my peers, eventough it is very late. ideally, it just need 2 years to accomplish that degree, but because the toxic culture, I've done it in 3 years.

the total amount of time of my study is almost 7 years. you can count it from 2013 till 2019. not an ideal time for person who pursue a scholarship. but God is good, in 2018 I got accepted in State-Owned Enterprise in the construction sector. and the rest is history.

Then in August 2020 Everything Begin....

I know that my greatest weakness at that time is English. because the circumstance and ecosystem where I study is not a good place for upscaling my English skill. therefore, my choice is very tight : I must find a scholarship who did need IELTS in the beginning process. then, that scholarship must count heavely on my working experience rather than my college background. lastly, I set my standard reliable. I must apply in the university that can see my value. not the university that has "Top School Brand" because I am not their league.

then I found New Zealand Scholarship : they will pay my IELTS test once I pass the selection process. this is perfect ! so I just need to find the suitable university for me with term exclude NZ best university. I got It : Massey University, Construction Law. the place that not intimidates me.

destiny brings me to the only master student from Indonesia in Massey : Widi Auliagisni. Widi is my very first person outside my family that believes in me even though I think I'm not good enough. she regularly spent her busy time to brainstrorm with me. convince me to apply and believe that I can make my dream into reality.

I  also met with Ibu Nurul Kasyifita, Banjarnese from Samarinda who willing to proofreading my Indonesian essay (because my English is that bad) and gives me delightful input that progressing my essay a lot. at the end of the year, I met Annisa Hasanah who have a similar working background with me (transportation project). Annisa widens up my perspective about how to plan my research. moreover, Widi recommends me to the professor who be the reason for my decision to Massey. I got the personal number of the professor and he, (the professor) invited me to come in one of his zoom lecture. 

in Januari 2021, the New Zealand Scholarship awardee held mentoring program for people who plan to apply that scholarship. they did selection process and I passed as one of 50 mentees who got that chance from around 200 applicants.

the mentoring concept is like I have buddy program. the person who guides me in my essay and the admission process. the program is supposed to prepare mentee to apply in New Zealand Scholarship for the 2021 period. (turns out, unfortunately the scholarship did not open due to the COVID-19 outbreak)

Surprisingly, destiny matched me with Annisa again. that 2 months mentoring process enlights me that English is a very strong foundation. I must mastery the way of thinking in English in order to make a compelling and clear essay. my problem is a language barrier, I have a tremendous idea and how to making it into reality, but the problem is I have a constraint to deliver it into English.

with my UMR salary and living cost in Balikpapan that take half of it, pay for an IELTS class is not my choice. nevertheless, my only choice is to dicipline studying IELTS through free learning resource such as Futurelearn and Youtube. it did greatly on my passive skills (listening and reading) but have no progression in my active part (speaking and writing). but it was my only way. I can ask for more.

In August 2021, through 2 hours zoom interview, Pak Jony Eko Yulianto gives me IELTS private scholarships. He told me that one of her students just came back from her master degree in the University of Bristol funded by LPDP and decide to be an IELTS coach as her next endeavor as one of her giveback in Indonesia. Betari wants to helps applicant who struggling with IELTS to pass the test and pursue their dream. and Pak Joni decides to give me scholarship is the way he support my dream and Betari's dream as well.

the writing modul has been done in October, so I decide to apply to the Auckland University of Technology for conditional offers. I completed all the requirements and convinced myself that I deserved it. then a few days later I brace myself to apply to Massey University for Construction Project Management. I changed my course after long discussion with Widi (Widi is taking Construction Project Management also) and some deliberation because I see implementing Construction Project Management is way suitable after study rather than Construction Law because mostly in Indonesia still use Netherland and Indonesian Law in the purpose of construction contract.

The First Letter Come From AUT, Then Few Days Letter Massey

November 2021, the email from Auckland University of Technology came. they offer me a place for master of Construction Management. I remember this letter came at afternoon when I was in my office. I scream silently, although this is not my dream campus, but my inner peace thank me. finally, after tears and bullying there is reputable university that see my value and gives me offer. this is a huge prove that I am capable like other people in the world.

It was the best twilight in my life. when I was alone in my flat, this email came. I got frozen in my bed. I lost my words. seconds later, I cry sobbingly. I got accepted academically in my dream campus. it's feel surreal, but it's real.  

at that time my IELTS private class was over and I am supposed to take IELTS exam and apply for scholarships. I must set up another plan if New Zealand Scholarship doesn't open again in 2022. so I let myself to see opportunity in LPDP scholarship.

in January 2022, my official IELTS score is out and I am eligible for LPDP scholarship !

15 March 2022, World's Rank Number 9 For Civil Engineering Offers Me a Place : The University of Canterbury

Massey University is not listed in LPDP anymore. so my only choice in New Zealand is Waikato, Otago, and Canterbury. 

my feeling is true. New Zealand did not open their border (until now) so the scholarship also. I convince myself that degree of M.CivilEng is quite cute after my last name. but later on I know that in order to secure my place at the University of Canterbury I must pay admission fee around 500 NZD in the beginning. (this payment must be done by my own, although the scholarship will reimburse it later if I pass the selection process)

the situation when New Zealand still closed their border sticking up my way. I know that New Zealand awardee 2020 period still can't enter the nation. how can I ? I can imagine how long the queue will be. naturally, my intuition guides me to choose another country because the IELTS certificate already on my hand. so, I choose to go to the United Kingdom.

The Best Always Came Late, University of Birmingham Offers Me a Place on April 2022

Birmingham is the highest rank of the University that offers me a place. based on QS World University Rankings 2022 this university placed 90th. 

the application process is quite different, yet thrilling compared to universities in New Zealand. in Birmie, I must write my study journey from high school to college graduation. this process is really makes me skeptical : are they willing to offer a place in person who graduate from high school in 2012 but just completed her undergraduate degree in 2019 ?

at this point, every bad judgment came into my mind. thanks to my traumas who already shapes me to believe that I am absolutely like the frame that my bulli-ers addressing to me.

but that second night of Ramadhan might be my turn back point. it was 10:33 PM Bontang time, when I just finished my Taraweeh pray and prepare to go to sleep. the email came, but my sleepy mind doesn't process it well. so, I think it just my hallucination LOL.

on the next day, I realize that offer is real. after morning pray, I read the email carefully, I look up the sender and read every words carefully. 


but unfortunately, due to internal problem caused by one employee in my family business, I must refuse the offers, drop down my imagination, suspend my study plan and back to Bontang in order to help my family business back to stable. after this messiness clear, I try to reset and rebuild my next endeavor.

This Dream is Still Alive

I will take MBA (fully online) in the US. 

this is really plot twist, at this point I am realizing that I can contribute more if I am a Master in Business Administration rather than Master in Civil Engineering. having an MBA degree allows me to contribute to the business comprehensively across the group. furthermore, I found myself quite exciting every time I attend to my class at the Wharton School (in Coursera). 

the pandemic gives me the comparison and spare more time to rethinking about my further study. I can't stop myself comparing 2 years online MBA tuition fee at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign is just half compared to 1 years M.CivilEng in the University of Canterbury (that will probably online because of the border is still closed)

God is Good, His Plan Is Never Wrong

I believe, at the end of the day, the silver lining will come after heavy stormy clouds in my life. I still nourish my dream, to pursue master degree overseas (with or without scholarship). I am sure everybody has their own destiny. so me too. I will face my victory later.

The Message is : I Learn To Don't Misjudge Myself

when I am writing this post, I can count how much blessed that God's gives me abudantly. but one thing for sure : I let my trauma far behind me. I am worthy. and God will always with me.

thank you for everyone who guide and beside me until this point. maybe for now reality doesn't like what I supposed to be, but I promise your kindness will stay forever in my heart.

Bontang, 14 April 2022 / 12 Ramadhan 1443 H

Faizah Riffat Ma'rifah

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