(Picture: “Down the rabbit hole” by TempestMaker)
Don’t you find it strange how the unconscious works?
Every August just after the winter holidays, I’ve been experiencing this burning desire to explore what it is like to live, study or work in a foreign country. As a teacher and translator there came a point in my professional life when I started thinking that in my local context there were no further opportunities for me to make progress in my career. I decided that it was high time I did something about it.
This annual August habit -which was beginning to make me feel uneasy- was in fact the trigger for my tireless search: all Erasmus scholarships in my field, some local Argentinian scholarships as well, and many more I had applied for.
Year after year the same thing happened to me, but the application process was as far as I was able to get. But wait, I’m missing something here. Once, after waiting for 4 months to get a reply from one of the scholarships I had applied for I got this email which almost gave me a heart attack when I read the first line: “You have been selected for a place on the Erasmus Mundus XXX”. I almost faint the moment I read this on my phone but since I was so anxious I guess I put off the fainting event so as to keep on reading the rest of the message, which went on like this: “We are happy to make you an offer of admission to the XXX programme. Unfortunately, there are few EU scholarships available this year and you are not on the short-list. However, other funding possibilities may be found on the (XXX) website”. In order not to suffer so much and to keep my self-esteem high
I thought of this event as a milestone which made me realize I had broken my own record. At least I had been admitted to those three European universities which made up the consortium of the programme I had chosen, which was not a minor thing (I kept repeating this to myself). Anyway, I decided to send a “mature” reply to that email stating that unfortunately I had to “decline” the offer due to “non-sufficient funds” (I don’t remember which euphemism I used so as not to be too rude… to myself, in fact!).
Anyway, it was not until this summer when I came across this post on the Oxford University Press Facebook site when my luck (?) began to change. The Headway series written by Liz and John Soars were opening a competition for teachers who used the series. I didn’t hesitate to take part in it and I worked for two weeks on my video and PowerPoint® presentation to submit them in due time. And after waiting for 3 months I got an email… again! This time, the subject line was: “Headway scholarship. Winner!.” The email went on like this: “Congratulations – you are a winner of this year’s Headway Scholarship competition! On behalf of Liz Soars and the Headway Scholarship Foundation, we are delighted to tell you that you have been awarded one of the Headway Scholarships for 2015 which means that you are entitled to a place on the 2-week English Language Teachers’ Summer Seminar at Exeter College in Oxford. Now I couldn’t believe my eyes. It actually said I was entitled to a place -a proper scholarship I would say! And I was one of the (lucky?) ones, together with 5 more teachers from Europe and Asia.
So there I went, off to Oxford for 2 weeks on a Teachers’ Summer Seminar where I would meet colleagues from over 30 countries to share our experiences and to learn from the best tutors, those whose names we’ve been reading on the covers of the coursebooks we use. I know, I know…Lucky (?) me!
So I wonder, when it comes to scholarships or even anything we want to happen to us: is it really luck what is at play? Or is it actually us going to their encounter and making things happen?
“There’s no use in trying,” Alice said, “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen.
“When I was your age, I always dit it for half an hour a day.
Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll)