Moving to Paris

By Seyra Rico - 10:25 PM

And here it is guys... I will try to write a detailed process on how I got into Sciences Po (Institut d'études politiques de Paris). 

It was June 2017. I was looking at schools in Europe and I saw the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in the Netherlands and I applied for the Academic Year 2017-2018. I wanted to secure an admission first then defer for a year to find funding. But the admissions office sent me an e-mail that they can't proceed with my application for they will need proof of funds for the year. I wasn't disheartened for I was just checking and ISS does not require an application fee for Filipino citizens, nor do they need an IELTS/TOEFL results in their application process. So I started researching and understood that the application process usually starts in October, after the fall registration for classes. I have contacted my professors when I applied for ISS so they knew what I intend to do, and they agreed to write me more recommendations letters. They were sincerely supportive. I did not want to disappoint them--for they ask me for updates and wish me the best in all of it. They gave me glowing recommendations. Right then, I didn't want to succeed just for myself, but for them as well. The application process for Sciences Po was done online. You will submit two recommendation letters from former professors, application form, personal essay, undergraduate degree diploma, and transcript of records. I won't delve on it too much since the process is the same for almost all master's degree applications. You also have to pay €100 for the non-refundable application fee. I submitted my application in December 2017 and got a response in January 2018. You also have to apply a bit earlier than usual if you want to apply for scholarships. This tip does not only apply to Sciences Po, but I read through many websites whilst preparing for my graduate studies: funding institutions will need your admission letter, and most of those applications close early, too. I got a conditional admission in January 2018, for my translated diploma and English as a general medium of instruction document weren't sufficient. It was weird, since I wrote a 1000 word personal essay in ENGLISH as a pre-requisite, too. And then I have to pay ₱10,270 to prove I can speak English? It is absolutely ridiculous--my countrymen were victims of colonialism, we can speak English as a result, but we still need to pay $215 to prove it? Not to mention it is elitist, only the well-off people can actually pay that amount, plus the application fees for the universities. Down with imperialism!

I also got into The New School in New York and they offered 30% discount for my tuition fees but that is still a hefty amount, and I'm trying to avoid the United States because of Donald Trump. France has one of the best healthcare systems in the world: as an international student, I am required to register with their social security system and almost everything is covered--even my birth control pills for Polycystic ovary syndrome, and retainers. I applied for three scholarships and I got two of them. Was it sheer good luck? Or did my hard work pay off? I belong to the 3% who became recipients. As a Marxist, I don't believe in luck so... I got the results of the Bourse Emile Boutmy on June 13, and the PhilFrance scholarship on June 27. I was ecstatic for the first three hours, but the reality sank into me. There will be so many administrative tasks to be done, and where will I get the rest of the money? And so being me, I ranted but kept my cool. I was so hopeful about the applications. And so, after almost nine months of waiting and hoping, I'm finally here. I got into a top school for Politics & International Studies by QS World University Rankings in 2018. It is the top 4 in the world. With French prime ministers & presidents, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Christian Dior as alumni. The application was easy, but the waiting time was stressful and tedious. I announced that I'll be moving less than two months before my flight. My friends were all proud of me. I didn't feel anything. It's only when Gigi, a friend of mine, pointed out that I will be totally alone. In an unknown place with people speaking in an unfamiliar language. Everyone thinks I'm brave. But I just felt nervous and anxious. I have traveled in 4 countries alone for the past year, but I can take solace with the fact that I will be coming back to adobo and sisig, to my friends, and Puchi. There is no comfort like that anymore.

Now, I am still settling in bit by bit. Paris is lovely. Everywhere you look is an architectural pleasure. It's still surreal to think that I am actually living in this city. True, the metro can be better and my suitcase was almost stolen the first night I came here but hey, I never did romanticize the City of Love.

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