My Experience being a SAF student at ACJ
I was preparing for my Master’s studies when I heard of Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) and South Asia Foundation (SAF) scholarship for the post-grad course. I was studying for my Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and looking at colleges in Europe but the pandemic happened. Europe was hit the hardest in the first wave of the pandemic and colleges were not taking applications. Media and Journalism had always excited me but I was never sure about taking journalism as a profession. I took a shot and applied for the scholarship. Fortunately, I got shortlisted from the SAF Nepal chamber. I had my interview and I received my letter of admission from ACJ.
The course started online because of the pandemic. Everything was very new for me and I was only Nepali in my stream but a week into the course I had friends from different parts of India and South Asia. I was learning every single day not just from my professors but my friends as well. The best part of my ACJ journey has been the insane amount of cross-cultural experience I could have. It has made me into a better human being. The class schedules were hectic and it took time to adjust to this new way of learning and dealing with the screen fatigue. I cannot complain because the entire world was locked inside their homes and I was able to educate myself even at this time of the pandemic. The hope of going to campus one day kept me going. Throughout my course, I did several reporting assignments and stories that brought me closer to ground realities. I had great professors who kept pushing me to do better. Being a SAF scholar had its own merits. I could focus on my studies without having to worry about the finances.
After studying online for five months, I finally got to go to the campus in Chennai and meet my friends from all over India and South Asia. I met our teachers and got to experience the proper studio trainings. Initially I was fascinated with the glamour aspect of it but over time I realized with all the equipment and the technicalities that goes into producing a show, journalism is a lot of responsibility. Leaving my home and family and moving to a new country for studies was scary but at the same time very exciting. It helped me see if I am prepared for life beyond living at home. However, India was hit by the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and I had to return to my country. Even though it was a very short-lived experience, I am glad I had the chance. I made great friends and it is a beautiful realization to know that the next time I land in India I will have so many people to call and catch up.
I had contacted few SAF alumni of ACJ after applying for the scholarship and listened to them reflect back on their college life and explain how it was the best experience of their life. I was waiting to have that experience and it indeed was one of the best experience of my life. I am extremely grateful to SAF and ACJ for providing me with this opportunity to explore my interest in journalism.
Ms. Aditi Pokharel
UMCSAJ Scholars (2020 Batch)