So let’s see the “hard facts” for those who are interested in applying for this scholarship in the future. What did the Kellner Scholarship bring to my life? Well, it basically changed it.
Being away from my regular life at home, I started to evaluate my studies, my human relations, my plans about the future with a very different eye. It gave me a perspective which I would not have been able to have without it.
Coming to a new country and learning about the way of life here made me ask questions about my own system of beliefs: is the way how I generally do things correct/effective/good? What can I, or we as a society in Hungary learn from how people live in the United States? I find the way how people perceive life and how they work to be very different here. I see more possibilities, and in some spheres more freedom too, which opens up new, creative thoughts about the future.
My Semester in New York City: The Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program
On top of the Rockefeller Center (PC: Zsófi Veér)
I spent my first semester at the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program in New York City. My international relations courses were much more practise-oriented than in Hungary and I learned more about the American perspective on the world. I also interned with UNICEF USA, which was the most useful professional experience I have had so far in my life. Understanding the institutional culture of such an organization and learning from professionals from different fields was a true benefit of this internship. I was working with the Corporate Partnerships team at UNICEF USA, but I was also interested in what my colleagues from other departments of the organization were doing. Everyone was very open to share their knowledge and experiences with me and as they saw my interest they involved me in various projects. By the end of my internship I developed a wide professional network which I consider to be invaluable for my future career.
A swift, but pleasant change: Bard College in the Middle of the Beautiful Nature of Upstate New York
Resting at Montgomery Place, the beautiful mansion which is now part of Bard’s campus (PC: Sona Badalyan)
At Bard College I had the chance to learn things which I could never learn in an academic setting before. The way of teaching was very different than what I experienced in the previous institutions I attended. Students have exposure to a wide range of primary sources (e.g. we are reading Buddhist sutras, or the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata) and not just the opinion of other scholars of a text we ourselves have never actually read. Though the latter is of great importance too, the former makes free thinking and opinion-forming about these texts possible, moreover it is highly encouraged in class. The emphasis is not on memorizing every single detail, but rather on finding certain aspects in the readings which spark your interest. These explorations are largely supported by classroom discussions, and then you have the chance to dig deeper in that topic by writing a paper.
This is another thing I find extremely helpful at Bard: while in Hungary we have exams and we have to answer short questions about mostly facts, here they are interested in your opinion too, teach you how to phrase arguments and how to express yourself in front of your peers and in writing. This is a practical skill which would benefit anyone from any field, and I am personally very grateful for it, as I missed this from my Hungarian education.
Teachers at Bard are also very open and available to students. They largely help and support your explorations and if you participate at their classes prepared and with a healthy amount of interest you will make the most out of those hours spent in the classroom. As the classes are usually pretty small (around 10-15 people per class) they have a chance to pay attention to everyone individually. They will ask why you are interested in that class and will help you advance on your path if you are planning to continue your studies or work in that field.
Apart from the academics, Bard is an ideal place to form meaningful friendships with people from very different disciplines and from different countries, which broadens your horizons. And in my opinion, this is exactly why it is worth to go to a liberal arts college: the exposure you get here will make you open towards and interested in many different fields and your social network becomes more diverse.
How all these experiences might change my future?
Explorations on campus – yes, this is practically still part of Bard (PC: Sona Badalyan)
In my future career I would like to implement some of the workplace culture and work-morale I experienced here. I liked the professionalism and efficiency with which workplace tasks are carried out.
At Bard College I was also reconnected with my passion for the arts (especially dance and music) which I would like to further pursue. The environment of the college made it clear for me that for a healthy work-life balance one should always cultivate her creative side.
At the Hudson Valley Tango Festival in Kingston, with my friends from the Tango Club at Bard
I am also considering another graduate program or a PhD in South Asian studies, which was clearly inspired by my Hindu Epics course at Bard and our great teacher, Richard Davis (to whom I will always be grateful for helping us develop our writing skills with his feedback and for inspiring our thinking with the way how he lead classroom discussions).
In a nutshell: if you are considering to apply for the Kellner Scholarship I would highly encourage that, no matter which field you are coming from. It will help you grow both personally and professionally and will be an experience for a lifetime!