I'm Tiara, originally from Malaysia, now studying in Brisbane, Australia. I'm applying for a spot at the KaosPilots school in Aarhus - I'll know if I'm shortlisted for their admissions workshop in late April by next week or so, and if I pass that, I start the 3-year program in September. It'd be pretty big for the both of us (KaosPilots and myself) because I'd be the first Asian student ever. I'm keeping a blog of my progress
- feel free to visit :)
I'd like some advice on a few things:
a) My biggest issue with getting into the KaosPilots is money. They don't yet have a scholarship fund available (they're working on it, but no guarantees), and due to my extremely tricky citizenship (long story short: born & raised in Malaysia, parents from Bangladesh, Malaysian government decides I am really a Bangladeshi citizen and only grant me permanent residency when I was 7 - no idea if I'll ever be properly Malaysian)
, and the fact that I am not a tax-deductible charity, I'm finding it hard to find scholarships/grants/sponsorships that I qualify for in the first place. I've applied for a couple that look promising (still waiting to hear from them), and I've written to nearly every relevant company, ministry, and organization that I could think of - but half haven't responded yet while the other half said No. I've even managed to piss off someone at CIRIUS because all my attempts to contact the different departments somehow get back to the same person and she has to keep fending me off :P
My main concern at the moment is getting a flight to Copenhagen from Brisbane. I've contacted airlines but I'm not getting anywhere. They cost about AUD$2300 (over DKK10000) and I'd rather not have to pay for the whole thing out of pocket. I've been seeking sponsorship from airlines and so far the best offer I have is a possible discount from Malaysian Airlines (SAS and SIA turned me down; Virgin Atlantic, Qantas, and Thai haven't gotten back to me). I've asked the KaosPilots if they could cover this cost for me, but again I have to wait till April 5th, which is when they announce their shortlist.
Where else could I look for funding, either for the Admissions workshop and/or the three-year program? Are there any foundations or organizations in Denmark/Scandinavia/Europe that would be helpful to my cause? I've asked some other foreign KaosPilots, and while one girl in the Rotterdam school has been sponsored by a women's aid organization (haven't managed to contact her though), the rest either were supported by family or had to work overtime and miss out on some opportunities. They're all looking for funding too (one from Mexico just quit because she couldn't afford it anymore - and KP is rather flexible with paying fees). Are there any philanthropists in Denmark I could chat with?
a.5) as a side thing to my fundraising - I'm considering writing a column about my life as an international student in Denmark for the press. I'm a youth journalist back in Malaysia and they said they'll welcome anything I send them, but I'd like to talk to some Danish papers and magazines and ask if they're interested. (It'd be a good way to earn money!) The only publication I know of is the Jyllands-Posten. Who else would be good?
b) How else can I prepare for life in Aarhus? I've been there once before (I applied for the Stockholm program last year and got shortlisted, but not admitted - and had to buy my ticket in TWO HOURS from my uni savings, hence me not wanting to do that again!) and it looks quite easygoing and nice. Currently I'm taking Danish lessons from a private tutor, and my Aussie boyfriend (who actually spent a year in Denmark in 2005 with Rotary, loves the country to death, and thinks he's half-Danish) is teaching me how to cycle. Anything else that would be helpful to know or learn about? Anything I should prepare before I go?
c) I've seen a few posts recently alluding to a lack of cultural sensitivity in Denmark, particularly with Muslims. I come from a Muslim background (I'm not religious myself) and I look obviously foreign, though when I was last in Denmark I didn't face any issues. People were friendly and helpful, and I saw lots of diversity (heck, I found it hard to find a Danish
restaurant in Aarhus!). Would my race/heritage be a bigger issue once I move to Aarhus? I'm no stranger to racism, and I've learnt how to deal with it, but I'd like to be prepared too. Would knowing the basics of the language help? (Apparently in Germany people are tons more friendly to you if you speak German, for example.)
If you have any advice, tips, ideas; if you know a KaosPilot or ARE/WAS a KaosPilot; or if you just want to chat and let me practice my very basic dansk (I could tell you what's in a leglijhed) feel free to reply, I'd love to hear from you :)