Global UGRAD: A Life-Changing Opportunity

Kiki - Utah 2Before it all began

It was a sunny day in mid-October 2012 when I heard about the Global UGRAD Program from a friend. I told him “Nah, it’s not for me,” but then he reminded me that United States of America had always been a dream country of mine. True, I agreed, yet I was still reluctant to apply for this program. My mind went back to the time I failed on the final stage of the selection process of a similar program for high school students. It held me back; I was afraid to face another failure.  

However, something pushed me to give this program a shot. People around me used to refer my dreams to cet langet (translation: painting the sky), a common saying in my hometown meaning something that is impossible. Hoping to prove them wrong, I therefore applied for this scholarship. To my surprise, in mid-November, an invitation for an interview landed in my email. I went through a series of selection processes thereafter until I finally made it to the last stage. After that one, I did not hear anything for weeks. I was worried, but I did not stop praying.

All praise to the Almighty God, my prayers were answered. In late April 2013, months after the initial selection process, I was finally chosen to participate in this program for two semesters. My heart was racing the moment I received the news! Words cannot describe how exhilarated I was. It was a dream come true.

Living the dream

I got more and more excited as my departure to the U.S. got closer. When I finally left home in August 2013, the journey began. Arriving in Salt Lake City, where I have been studying for the past eight months, I started living my dream. Before long, my goals were accomplished one by one. I made friends with people from different parts of the world; I contributed to my school’s online magazine; I became a teaching assistant. Additionally, I visited the cities and places I have always wanted to go, such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Without a doubt, my life in the U.S. is nothing but incredible.

Kiki - UtahHowever, I have to admit that incredible does not mean my life is always “sunshine and rainbows.” There were hard times too when I just wanted to go home. Nonetheless, everything I have been through – both the good times and bad – helped shape me into who I am today. I know for sure that I am not the same girl I once was. My experiences have changed my perspective toward life and helped me to become more mature.

Program end reflection

Looking back to where I started, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to participate in this prestigious program. For me, this program is more than just a chance to live and study abroad; it is a life-changing program that allowed me to keep growing, find myself, and see the world from different perspectives. What I gained from this program is more than what I could possibly expect.

In the end, my deepest gratitude to AMINEF (American Indonesian Exchange Foundation), World Learning, U.S. Department of State, and everyone else who has been supporting me from the start! Upon returning home, I will demonstrate my appreciation by giving back to my home community and promoting UGRAD in any way I can.

– Rizki Permatasari, Indonesia, University of Utah

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