USTL provides full scholarships to outstanding students from Timor-Leste for two to four years of study at high-quality undergraduate degree institutions in the United States. Scholarship awards include full tuition toward either a bachelor’s degree or associate degree, 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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Dear readers! Before I start, I wanted to remind you all that it's been a while since I wrote to you. I am so thrilled that I am writing again so you'll be able to read. I have several things that I'd like to share with you; therefore, I encourage you to keep reading till the end of the page. The first point that I want you to know about is my spring semester, then BOOM!!! Covid-19 hit the earth. Secondly, I'd like to tell you about my summer break. Quite exciting, isn't it?

As the spring semester, 2020 started, everything seemed incredible. As usual, I remember walking to my classes, going to the library, sitting at my favorite places on campus, visiting my favorite coffee shop, hanging out with friends, and many more that I can't mention. I had a good semester even though I ought to do a lot of studying and schoolwork, and sometimes things stressed you out, but you have to deal with it. One of my favorite highlights for the semester was volunteering with the rangers at a state park in Tennessee. Another highlight from the semester was probably going to volunteer in my community, restoring their valuable belongings, and cleaning up the debris houses after a tornado hit the city. It was my first time experiencing something like a tornado; in fact, it was two tornadoes joining forces. It was so terrifying—several people in my community lost their loved ones, houses, and other worthy belongings. It was probably the darkest hours I ever encountered in my university.

As the spring semester 2020 passed, there came spring break. It was one of the most dreadful times I ever had felt. As everyone left for spring break, I had a little hope that people won't return to campus. A few days later, my university's president announced that students had to resume classes remotely with the spring semester due to Covid-19. I suppose if you're a student like me, you probably understand how it feels when your university was closed or is. It was hard for some people, especially myself, but now that things are reopened, I prefer to do classes face-to-face. Therefore, not all my classes are in-person, alternatively hybrid.

After the semester ended, I stayed on campus for a while and took a first session summer class. The course was American Modern history, one of my favorite subjects in school, and I enjoyed it a lot since I am also interested in history since I was a kid. After the course was over, I left for Minnesota to visit my fellow Timorese; simultaneously, I wanted to celebrate the other two fellows' birthdays. Besides that, I also wanted to experience a July 4th celebration in Minnesota. It was a first-time experience for me to witness what people do to commemorate Independence Day in America. I think the 4th of July is a big thing for people in the United States; for instance, you see people go boating with their families, have a picnic in the parks, cycling, kayaking, hiking, road trips, and barbeques. Some people celebrate by wearing the American flag overalls and drinking on the red and blue cups. There was a parade, fireworks, and fairs in the Minneapolis parks with people offered free food and drinks; also, the were concerts too that you can watch while walking around the booths to try various food and beverages.

In the end, I think I had a good spring semester and summer break, and I am grateful that I'm back in school and have my routine again similarly; I hope you, too, have a good semester.