Megan Davidian is a sophomore from Fayetteville, Arkansas majoring in biomedical engineering. She is currently studying abroad on a Gilman Scholarship at the University of Technology Sydney. Below, she discusses the scholarship application process and what she’s been up to in Australia so far.
Since I am from Fayetteville, the University of Arkansas was in my backyard and it was the only school I applied to. I knew during my first semester here that I wanted to study abroad in Australia, and while researching programs I found out about the Gilman Scholarship—I came across it on the study abroad website.
In general, just applying and figuring out what classes I would take (and if I would be able to get credit for them) was a long and complicated process. I didn’t know for sure that I would be able to attend an Australian university and get transfer credit until August of my sophomore year. Once I got the final approval, it was time to apply for the Gilman Scholarship—I started the application process in September and it was due October 10th. While I found the application process very stressful, the study abroad office and Dr. Bryan Hill were happy to help and answer any questions I had.
While many of the questions on the application were straightforward, there was one multipart essay that required you to answer various questions about what you are studying, why you want to study abroad, how studying abroad will help you, and what challenges you have faced coming to this decision. Though writing this essay felt terrifying at first, I learned that once you start answering the questions in bullet form it becomes much easier to then figure out how to put them together as a coherent whole. In the future, I would recommend that anybody applying for the Gilman or other similar scholarships use the University’s Writing Support center. If it wasn’t for the gentleman there who helped me to better organize my essay and to provide stronger examples within it, I don’t think I would have received this scholarship.
Currently, I am in the heart of Sydney, Australia right outside of the central train station. I have been in Australia for almost 2 months now and my classes started on March 12th. My first month was spent exploring Sydney and getting acquainted with the city. Now that classes have started at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I start my days with a 5 to 15-minute walk to class. Classes are different than at the University of Arkansas; instead of having lectures multiple times a week, I only have each class once per week here. The campus is also more spread out throughout the city.
When I do not have class, I am studying, usually in a park somewhere, or I am at the beach seeing the sights. Without the Gilman Scholarship I would have not been able to live in Sydney without getting a job; as such, the scholarship allows me to focus on my studies more. Down the line, I am also hoping that having studied abroad will help me stand out when I am applying to graduate schools. And while I am here in Australia, I plan on trying to get involved in some research at UTS, which will give me research experience in a different country.
The advice that I would give to students planning to apply for scholarships like the Gilman is first and foremost to get a BIG head start on the application process if possible. You want to be able to look over your essay as many times as you can, and get many people to look over it as well. As I mentioned before, I’d specifically recommend taking advantage of the University’s Writing Support resources. Also reach out to other students (like me) who have received international scholarships and talk with them one-on-one.
– Megan Davidian
While in Australia, Megan is also maintaining a personal blog—follow her here!