MDes Talks: When Dream Is Far Away – A Chilean South American Student Story

I was graduated in Industrial Design with a clear focus on technology. I’ve been working for five years in an educational robotics lab and always looking at worldwide postgraduates schools offering programmes with a global perspective to Interaction Design which teach students both physical and digital interaction directed to a user-centred vision. Then, I found it, the best programme for me, at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University on the other side of the world, far away from Chile, my country. The pursuit of this educational opportunity will be one of the most exciting adventures of my life.

Hometown Santiago de Chile, with a view to the ‘Cordillera de los Andes’ 

In 2016 I sent the first email asking about the programme structure, and the next day, I received all the information. PolyU has the best staff to answer questions and to explain all the processes, especially with non-locals. But for personal reasons, I must postpone my application for two years. My dream drifted a bit because my plan got delayed, but my interest was still strong. So in 2017, I decided to apply and in 2018 I started to prepare for an application.

The first thing I did, was preparing the IELTS while I tried to find documents for the admission application and then to organise my portfolio. The application process starts with the web platform called eAdmission where you can upload files and fill out the information that it requires – this process is simple and if you have questions, you can ask the staff through emails. The process takes around two months and when the application is submitted, look for ways to finance your study while waiting to be called for an interview.

In Chile, essentially, we have private and public university education and both are self-financed. In Hong Kong, masters programmes are also self-financed. You can look for possibilities in your home country or in Asia for agencies/ foundations to fund part of your study abroad expenses. 

In my case, I just had two options in Chile when it comes to financing my study abroad expenses, pay with my own fund (bank credit and savings) or apply to the only scholarship we have in Chile. CONICYT (National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research), a scheme financed by the government, is an excellence scholarship which offers to finance students to study abroad if they meet a list of requirements. Below are the requirements relevant for those considering a masters study:

  • Be Chilean or foreigner with permanent residence in Chile
  • Possess an academic degree of Bachelor (with a minimum study period of eight semesters) and/ or Professional Degree (with a minimum study period of ten semesters) or equivalent accredited undergraduate studies in the case of studies conducted abroad
  • Achieve academic excellence with at least one of the following two requirements:
    • - Have obtained an average score equal to or greater than five (5.0) over a maximum of seven (7.0) or its equivalence in relation to the scale of 1 to 7 in the undergraduate, professional or equivalent qualifications;
    • - Being the top 30% in the graduating class ranking
  • Be accepted or be a regular student in a master’s programme

Interaction Design project ‘Domotic House’ developed for client Telefónica Foundation in Expo Robótica 2016

There is a ranking of institutions of different countries by OCED’s areas of science, and each programme is given a score by field of study. Be sure to be accepted in the best schools for a good score in the scholarship evaluation. In this case, I got the maximum score (5.0) being accepted in the PolyU under the field of study ‘Engineering and Technology’. The benefit of this scholarship includes some of the followings:

  • Roundtrip tickets to the country of destination for the fellow and their spouse/ civil partner and children
  • Sum of financial aid equivalent to the costs of fees and tuition for attending the study programme
  • One-time allowance for relocation to study destination
  • Allowance for books and study materials
  • Monthly allowance for the fellow during the study period corresponding to the cost of living in the study destination
  • One time allowance for relocation back to Chile
  • Benefits associated with English, German or French language supplementary courses

So, the difficult tasks are, to win the scholarship and to fit the dates between the university admission and the scholarship application process. I will explain how I made it with a timeline.

  • Prepare for an English test and obtain the required score or above
  • Collect employment data, degree certificates and recommendation letters you need to submit
  • Fill in the form on eAdmission platform and upload all files to finish
  • While you wait for an answer from the University, you can start looking for ways to finance, be it a bank credit or scholarship, and prepared for all cases. This is because when you have the results from the University, you are asked to respond within two weeks. You should have a plan in advance, to buy time.
  • Establish a way to finance your study and finish necessary procedures
  • Now, start to collect the documents for a student visa and send it to the Academic Registry by courier for checking before handing to the Immigration Department
  • Lastly, get the result of the scholarship, go for it

When you have your student visa, prepare to settle your responsibilities before study abroad. Then, look forward to living in a beautiful city and to study in one of the most amazing universities in the world.

All images by author.

This blog post is written by Daniel Alejandro Munoz Prieto, a current student studying in the Interaction Design (MDes) programme. Daniel came from Santiago, Chile.

MDes Talks is a series of blog posts produced by the student media team for prospective students who are considering graduate education in design. The student authors write on what it is like and what it means – to be a student (again), to live in an unfamiliar culture, to meet new people, to study in a different education system, and to broaden horizons. Prospective students are welcome to connect with our student authors to learn more.