Every academic year, around January time, all undergraduate students in their Foundation, First or Second year at the University of Leicester are given the opportunity to apply for a Travel Scholarship. Through this, the University offers students money to contribute to a travel experience of their choice; providing it has a defined academic purpose in an area of their study. The scholarship is not always guranteed, but if succesful, it enables students to spend a fraction of either their Easter of Summer Vacation, pursuing an academic-related, travelling experience abroad. It is an immensely fantastic oppurtunity, and one that greatly benefited me.
I was fortunate enough to have been awarded £400 for my trip to a Nepalese village called Padam Pokhari in the Chitwan district, where I spent most of July teaching English in a local school. I’d planned this trip long before I knew about the Travel Scholarship, but I’ll divulge more information on the trip in a later blog. Today I figured I would spend some time explaining in slightly more detail the purpose of the Travel Scholarship, its process, and the benefits.
The University offers two scholarships: The Travel Scholarship and The Sheila Spire Travelling Scholarship. However, as I was awarded The Travel Scholarship, I’d like to place more focus on that. As I mentioned earlier, the trip you plan to take must have a defined academic purpose, but I have to emphasise that it does not have to be associated with a particular course requirement.
As a History Student, a field I am heavily looking into is teaching. Thus, I wanted to experience teaching in a country with a rich history, that is not vastly studied in the English Curcciulum; and so i chose Nepal. I had other reasons for wanting to visit this country, however I won’t bore you with them right now. But as you can see, whilst this had a direct link to my future career plans, there is a degree of flexibility, and your chosen desitination does not have to be rigidly defined by your course.
For the scholarship, you’ll have to get a reference from a tutor of your choice, but it’s a relatively simple process. They’ll submit this alongside your application, and if you are succesful, you’ll be called for an interview, where you have the opportunity to explain your trip to a panel of judges from a range of departments. In my next blog, I’ll offer some tips on how to go about the whole process, but for today I just wanted to shed some light on the scholarship, as oppurtunities like this can be so easily overlooked by students – I had no idea it existed in my first year!
Lastly, I thought I would share with you some of the benefits of this scholarship. In the long-run, the £400 that I was awarded covered approximately a third of my trip, which was fantastic, as it took a lot of the pressure of funding the trip away. It allowed me to have an incredible month, and has done a great deal in shaping my intentions for a future career in teaching. Since partaking on this trip, it has inspired me to consider pursuing a career teaching English as foreign language. It’s provided me with a clear perception of where I want to be in the future.
So, if you really have a desire to go somewhere in the world, and it just so happens to be linked to your degree, then I cannot recommend the Travel Scholarship enough. And when the time comes; probably around the new year, I really encourage you to check it out.
For now, here’s one of the many photo’s I took whilst on my travels,