USTL provides full scholarships to outstanding students from Timor-Leste for four years of study at high-quality undergraduate degree institutions in the United States. Scholarship awards include full tuition for four years of undergraduate study, travel, living stipends, medical insurance in the U.S., and visa costs. USTL is a program of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), U.S. Department of State.

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When I was a child, I fell in love with America as soon as I looked at its flag. Because of this, I dreamed of visiting this wonderful place one day. When I graduated from my senior high school, I had worked with a local NGO (Empreza DiĆ¢'ak) in Timor-Leste. I got a chance to meet with lots of international people and learned some useful experiences which led me to become more flexible and extroverted in my life. At that time, I also applied for the United Timor-Leste Scholarship. As one of just four applicants selected, I got a chance to come to the USA in August 2015. When arriving in Washington D.C., I had a deep insight into the world. I was surprised by the environment which is extremely clean, peaceful, safe, and lawful. That time, I posted on my personal Facebook, "I have been loving you for a long time in my heart, it is true that you are so beautiful!"

After two days in Washington D.C., I flew to my university which is the University of Arkansas. This place is adorable for its quiet and peacefulness. My second day here, I walked into the union of the university and saw my flag was hanging there. I was so excited since it was the first time two Timorese were studying at the UofA. At that moment, I started to make friends. Local and international people whom I met were very nice and friendly. They helped me become flexible with my new environment. This flexibility allowed me to hang out with some friends and go to their houses. While doing it, I learned about American culture.

I have been noticing some similarities and differences between American culture and my culture. American people are very creative, have big smiles, are often very friendly, and work very hard. America also has a variety of historical places. Timor-Leste has pretty much the same things. However, some differences that I have been seen here so far are people (students) who are very independent, varieties of ethnic people, and the eating habits (meal time). In addition to these differences, family size in America is small; whereas, back home we have up to a dozen siblings. Back in Timor, our elders (especially the women) wear our own traditional clothes, but in America, the fashion and dress are almost the same for any age.

I like the educational system here. It is very interesting! According to the state governments, every child should attend school (elementary to senior high). It is mandatory and the education system is very well-developed. Interestingly, America has a lot of parties (small celebrations) and holidays, one of which is Thanksgiving, which is celebrated as a family reunion with a large afternoon feast. The one good thing here I found is about the policy of age limit for drinking. People who are 20 and under are not permitted to drink until they turn to 21. It is a good idea; I wish we could apply it back home.

So far, I enjoy living here very much. I can feel as my home even though sometimes I am still homesick. I hope during my four year's stay here that I can explore more of this country and culture. I also want to discover the differences between the States in America. Here in America sometimes I see something that is weird, yet these things are so much fun!!!