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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As of early March Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic and most countries began lockdown. The United States began lockdown by the end of March. Unfortunately lockdown began when classes were busy and were approaching to finals. Online classes went better than I thought it would be. I was frustrated at first with the changes that was happening. In my town a big tornado hit a couple of weeks before lockdown which caused delay in classes due to distractions around the community. Classes were off for a few days when we suppose had midterm exams and projects due. After trying to catch up with work regardless the inconveniences, we had to quickly transitioned online and moved out of campus. With all the occurrences I felt as if I under a lot of pressure but at the same time was grateful that I had many things to focus on and kept me distracted from the devastating events. I was determined to stay resilient and finish the semester with outstanding results. The shift to online classes means less surveillance from our professors thus I had to force myself to stay productive. I try to keep my sleeping schedule the same, had study hours when I turn off all devices and kept any distractions from studying and kept my study room neat and tidy. Little did I imagine that lockdown would last for months. As I finish the semester, I was mostly free and had almost nothing to do.

Summer breaks were usually for me to get hand on experiences related to my major. I have done all of my long internship experiences back home during summer but this year we were restrained from traveling overseas and restricted from traveling in the country, staying home is the most encouraged act. Having myself being very busy with classes to almost nothing to do was devastating, however I am glad to have a wonderful friend to stay with and being able to stay safe at home. To keep myself motivated at home I have been running with a friend almost everyday for an hour or two and on the day that I do not run, I work out at home for about 30 minutes. I have also been learning to cook new recipes, particularly recipes from home so that I am prepared to cook better Timorese food when there’s international events on campus next semester. I have been trying to do activities that I wished I had more time to while I had classes. Not to forget that I also constantly keep in touch with family at home to make sure they are well and safe and they are informed that I am well and safe as well. Being on lockdown has also inspired me to take advantage of numerous available online learning tools that I can grasp. I have always seek experiences that are hands on, in offices surrounded by people and with activities that I can do while at the same time learning from thus I have not always been aware of how much I can do at home, particularly online. I have been watching documentaries or educational videos on work that has been done to manage an environmental issues. I have also been watching tutorials on a program, precisely geometric information system that I will have a class on next semester and I will most probably be working with in the future.