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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I am the kind of person who feels more comfortable to stay in this invisible box that I have put myself in. I am an introvert so I let myself believe that I should be in that position forever. It’s a good thing to build that invisible box around me because I get to be more cautious in every situation. I reason with myself when I am about to do something, and that is a good thing because I think twice or thrice when I’m about to make a decision. A lot of people that I know often times praised me for being cautious and knowing exactly what I wanted to do before jumping into something. Those compliments made me feel more secure about myself that I do not want to get out of that invisible box. No matter how good it is to be in that invisible box, I know that I need to step out of that box once in a while.
The negative side of being in that invisible box is that I limit myself from trying new things that I might enjoy. Whenever I wanted to try new things, I would always get nervous and stop myself from trying, and because of that, I would miss out on so many good opportunities. Even though I sometimes disagree with how things are in the East Timor education system but I must be honest that without my teachers continuously forcing me to attend a lot of extracurricular activities, I would not be studying here or even experiencing a lot of things. I have always said that my experiences from the past help shape who I am now and if it were not for my teachers’ constant demand for us to participate in activities I would not be who I am today.
I chose to write this blog because I wanted everyone who gets the chance to read this to try new things. While studying here I have learned to get out of that invisible box one step at a time. Believe it or not, it is very hard for someone like me to get out of my comfort zone, but I did it. Which is why whenever I was asked to speak at the student panel I would always encourage new students in our university to step out of their comfort zone. Being in that student panel itself is also another example of me stepping out of that invisible box that I have created for myself. If it is hard, take baby steps when trying something new.
I would say that the first thing that I never imagined myself doing was trying ice skating for the first time. Ice skating was something I would only want to watch on television because I know that it can be hard and dangerous. I did push myself to do it, I’ve fallen so many times and almost gave up but still tried it. The biggest thing that I had to do was giving a speech in front of professors, fellow students and people with doctorate degrees. That scared me to the point where I could not sleep at night, but after delivering the speech I have gotten many beautiful compliments from the audience that I convinced myself that if I can face my biggest fear then I can do anything.
I encourage you, the one who is reading this blog right now to step out of your comfort zone and do things that you thought you never could have done. Trust me, you will be surprised that you are probably are really good at it. Even if it is something as small as speaking English to native English speakers. Be confident in yourself because if you put your heart and mind to it, you can do it. Give a speech, put your hands up in class and ask your teachers questions that can benefit you, do volunteer works, start a new student club, sing, dance, try a new hobby or learn a new skill. Do it and enjoy it.