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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During pre-covid19 period, holidays mean traveling and exploring the United States or going back home but during this winter holiday is a bit different, safety and health precautions must be considered. I am very blessed with amazing and wonderful friends who are always supporting me and accompany me throughout my journey here in the US. Because I do stay in a dorm, during winter holiday I must look for other accommodations since dorms are closed. I am always welcomed by so many of my friends who have apartments here. Previously during winter I got the chance to stay with one of my friends and her family about three hours from school, this year however, because avoiding large gathering is one of the main health precautions I was welcomed to stay with a friend who is originally from Albania who shares the apartment with an America, whom I got to be a close friends with now.

My American friends here always welcome international students into their home specially during special holidays in the US such as thanksgiving, Christmas and even during short school semester breaks. Recently I along with my Albanian friend were invited to a thanksgiving dinner in which we got to try numerous cuisines such as turkey and deviled eggs at a home outskirt with refreshing air and humongous outdoor green field. Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorite holidays here! During new year, a fellow Timorese and I also get the chance to spend new year at one of the most well known restaurants in our hometown. Along with our Albanian friend we have also cooked together a couple of times, in which one of the dishes is feijoada, one of Timorese favorites and an Albanian dish called pastice. During the holiday my Vietnamese friend also stopped by from her hometown to bring her grandma's best home-cooked meal and also my favorite Vietnamese dish called pho. This blog overalls is to show my gratitude and appreciation to all my American and international friends who I have got to make during my stay here in the United States and as I am preparing for my last semester, I am appreciating all my friends here even more before my farewell. At home during this break my friends and I got to cook together, read books, exercise and even experience social media in a professional way. My friend and I each got to try to open a social media account as a platform, for educational purposes, about topics that we have covered in each of our major of study.

Even during the time of covid, the presence and the support of my friends does not stop any holidays from having its colors and festivities. As I am preparing for my classes this semester, the last one for my undergraduate study, one class that I am most excited about will be Water, Society and Sustainability. The class will be covering worldwide issues on mostly water and other environmental issues that need the idea of sustainability as the core of their solutions. Sustainability is one of my favorite ideas because it describes my passion in one word, which means to ensure future ability to do things does not diminish because of present actions.