January 18, 2023 5 min read

Dream Big And Make It Happen

Muhammed Salih S

Who Am I?

Muhammed Salih Salim – Erasmus Mundus Scholar, International MSc in Health Management in Aquaculture, Ghent University, Belgium.

The first time I saw these words in the written form, I teared up. This was not supposed to happen, a Malyalee boy from a small village was never supposed to reach Europe, let alone via a fully funded scholarship. This was beyond my wildest dreams.

I hail from a small fishing village in Kerala. As a child, my grandfather would take me out angling (a fishing technique that uses a fish hook attached to a fishing line) in the evenings, which quickly became my favourite hobby.

This hobby is what first led me to join the Kerala University of Fisheries and Ocean Studies to pursue a Bachelor’s in Fisheries Science after completing my schooling. From there, my interest in this field grew in leaps and bounds.

My passion in this area has not wavered since. I truly loved every second of studying about it.

I have always loved to travel and explore different cultures and food. It has been my biggest childhood dream to get the chance to fly around the world.

Europe was always my preferred destination, but as you can imagine, such a dream was almost unimaginable and seemingly impossible for a person such as myself, hailing from a lower middle-class economic background.

My Application Process

During my second year of college, I began searching for opportunities that would allow me to explore the world while at the same time also fulfilling my academic ambitions.

I had heard of a couple of seniors at my college who had got an Erasmus Mundus scholarship, and I wanted to give it a try myself.

I was unsure whether a student with average academic achievements would be able to bag such a prestigious scholarship, but I was sure that it would be the best option for me to have a chance at chasing my dreams.

So without thinking twice, with newfound resolve and a strong sense of purpose, I started working towards this new goal.

I first started my research by collecting information about the scholarship and its requirements, and I also connected with people who were already successful in getting it. Real conversations with real people put my mind a little at ease and made me believe in my capabilities.

I explored all the opportunities that came before me and reached out to many people in various fields. After I had gotten a fair idea of it all, I started making my profile competitive and fit for the programme that I was planning to apply for.

This is a crucial step, your profile doesn’t need to be perfect, but it does need to be relevant specifically to the course of your choosing.

The most important part of a scholarship application such as this one is the way you present yourself to the selection committee, and this is primarily done through your Curriculum Vitae and your Motivation Letter.

Regardless of the quality of your profile, if you fail to convey it clearly in your application and communicate it effectively, all your efforts will be wasted. So prioritise this step above all else in the application process.

You would be surprised to know that it took me nearly 6 months to prepare a one-page motivation letter! Nevertheless, I think that even that much time was insufficient for me, and I made many corrections even at the last moment before sending it.

You would be surprised to know that it took me nearly 6 months to prepare a one-page motivation letter! Nevertheless, I think that even that much time was insufficient for me, and I made many corrections even at the last moment before sending it.

At this point, I’d like to mention the mentoring I received from Kohort. The reviews and feedback from experts in their team helped me develop a good application. Having trusted experts giving you guidance can help out students a lot because most of us feel lost and confused at some point in our study-abroad journey.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic that was around at the time became another hurdle for me to overcome. Just 4 days before my application deadline, I got an email stating that my application was incomplete and could not be evaluated since I had not submitted my final year results. My results had been delayed due to the pandemic, and I was disheartened. I became very anxious and felt helpless. That’s when I decided to take the help of those around me.

I had lost all hope and was only getting by with the support of my parents, professors and friends. Luckily, I received my results the night before the application deadline, and I submitted them on time.

Talk about serendipity, luck, meant to be, or whatever other cliche term! This was genuinely a heart in my hands moment for me and I thank god that I was able to scrape by just in time.

The Road Ahead

Looking back now, I can say that I got what I wanted through my own sheer will and non-stop effort but also because I had the right people helping me.

Be it people in my personal life like family, professors, and family, or the people I met in my journey with Kohort, everyone was so forthcoming and open to helping me. For this, I’ll always be grateful.

This whole journey has been a wonderful experience for me. I’m now studying at one of the top universities in the world, travelling to places I could previously only dream about, making friends across different countries, and exploring different cultures.

My message to aspiring students is:

If you want something and if you are ready to work hard for it, have faith that it will come to you no matter what the circumstances are.

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