By Gan Kyaw

The Euroculturer Magazine conducted a series of interviews in which we tell the inspiring stories of the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship winners of our MA Euroculture program. We regularly meet the awardees, ask their motives to apply for the scholarship as well as their suggestions for future applicants. 

As the very first story of our series, we met with Marcela Gracía and had a good conversation with her, including her academic background and her experience of applying for this scholarship. Marcela is from Mexico, attained her bachelor’s degree in International Relations in her home country and has four-year experience in big law firms such as KPMG and Deloitte. She received the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship for MA Euroculture program for the 2022-2024 cohort and has started her first semester at the  University of Göttingen, Germany. Afterwards, she will spend her second semester at the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain. 

“Since I was very little, I have had this idea of maybe in the future, having the opportunity to work in Europe, and maybe in an international organization or institution. I really thought that being part of this master’s program would get me nearer to where I wanted to be in the future. What interested me was the subjects, mainly the mobility of the program, and the options of the third semester. It was really interesting and those were the main reasons why I wanted to apply to the Euroculture program,” said Marcela.  

In the third semester, the Euroculture students can join the professional track: internship or the research track. Marcela is going to follow the professional track. “I want to get to know a little bit of how the workforce in Germany works. Because in my future, if I am going to work in Europe, I want to know how the system works, how working in Europe differs from working in Mexico. I have some options of where I wanna do my internship. But I don’t know yet where I am going to be chosen. So I am applying to different places and hoping for the best”, said Marcela.

First Semester Experience: Göttingen

The Euroculturer asked her some more questions about her experience at the first semester university. 

The Euroculturer: “Please share with us about your academic experience and lifestyle at your first semester place.”

Marcela: “Regarding my academic experience so far in University of Göttingen, I would say that some subjects are kind of familiar because of my bachelor’s studies. Some other things like for example, how the EU is formed, the Council of Ministers and the parliament and all these things, that was a bit tricky because none of my subjects in my bachelor’s degree dealt with any of that. Of course it was not relevant to my career at the moment. That was a bit trickier at first because I had to adjust to all these new terms and things that I didn’t really know much about. But I guess I am doing okay so far. 

Regarding my lifestyle, I would say sometimes it was kind of stressful at first. But overall, it is manageable. We have five subjects and I have been able to tackle all of the assignments. It’s been okay so far. I think it depends on whether you wanna work or not in your first semester. In my case, I am not working. I decided to just focus on my studies and so far it has been okay.”

Preparation for the Scholarship Application

The Euroculturer: “How did you prepare your CV and motivation letter?”

Marcela: “I think it really depends on the requirements of the program that you are applying for. I think the best thing to prepare your CV and motivation letter was to follow the theme, the requirements of the program that you are applying for. For example, if the Euroculture program is asking you to meet certain requirements, I would advise you to follow them so that you have a greater chance of letting the selection board know that you comply with the requirements.” 

The Euroculturer: “In your opinion, which factors secured your place for this scholarship?”

Marcela: “In my opinion, I guess maybe the fact that I speak other languages besides English. Of course I speak Spanish because that is my native language. But for example, I knew some French, and I knew a bit of German also. Maybe that was one of the factors that made me stand out from other applicants. I feel like my experience of an exchange semester before was also a factor for getting accepted for this program. Because I feel like if you have done an exchange semester before or a year abroad, it gives the idea of the ability to adapt to different cultures, languages, doing, and thinking. So I guess this is a sign that someone is going to dive into an environment that is not their own. I guess the last factor would be my professional experience. As I said, after finishing my bachelor’s degree, I worked for four years in international firms. That also gave me access to deal with clients from different parts of the world. I guess it is one of the factors; it gives insight into what the person would be like in an international environment and how they will be able to deal with people speaking different languages or having different thought processes.”

Advice and Suggestions for Future Applicants

As a piece of advice, Marcela suggested the potential applicants prepare all the requirement documents on time. “I found out about this program really late, and all my documents are in Spanish. So I had to translate my documents with certified translation; it took time, money and resources in general. So I would advise that you start looking at the different requirements and start preparing to get the documents ready so that you can comply with the deadline” she recalled her experience.

She also recommended sending inquiry emails every time you are not sure about something. According to her, it is better to send an email, and it is also a way of letting the selection board know that you are interested in doing things. “I guess it would be better to just ask and have the documents correct in just the way they would like to have than to make any mistake and compromise your chance of getting a scholarship” Marcela shared her opinion. 

Future Plans

At the end of the interview, the scholarship winner talked a little bit about her plans. 

“My short-term plans would be to just finish successfully my first semester, essays, presentations, my reading, and everything that I have left to do, and to spend Christmas in Poland with my international friends. Another plan for the third semester is to start filling up the applications for my internship”. 

After graduation, Marcela wants to secure herself a job in Europe and work in institutions focusing on humanitarian actions.

The Euroculturer would like to extend their deepest thanks to Marcela Gracía for her time to share her experience and advice. We wish her all the best and hope that she lands her dream job after becoming a MA Euroculture graduate. 

If you have further questions concerning the Erasmus Mundus Scholarship for the Euroculture program, have a look at the official website of the program, and feel free to reach out to the Euroculturer.

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