The Best of 2018

Tonight, from Manchester, I raise my bowl of salad to one heck of a memorable year.

2018 goes down in my personal history book as 100% major.  It’s been one of those years where I feel blessed far beyond what I even knew to ask for.  It’s been filled with gracious opportunity and a lot of hard work.

There have been highs and lows, lots of learning, some tears and plenty of of goodies have come out of my oven, both here and back home.

My phone has been stolen. My laptop’s hard drive has been corrupted. I got a job. I quit my job. Lots of family drama and other unpleasant stuff unfolded. But today we remember and appreciate all the nice things.

Looking through my photos made me realize how much has happened and how quickly time has gone by.

So here it is, my highlights from 2018:

#1

Oh the anticipation of traveling internationally for the very first time ALONE!

I’d been abroad before but never without my parents and siblings so you can imagine my excitement anxiety.

 

#2

Not having to share a washroom, a bedroom or any room for that matter with any of my many sisters is a MAJOR highlight for me xD

 

#3

The year I baked my first cheesecake!

And made truffles.

And ate a lot of berries.

 

#4

The Brathay trip.

The trip of a lifetime.

 

Rowing on one of the most beautiful lakes of the world, Lake Windermere, taking the ‘leap of faith’, and doing all sorts of other wild activities I never would have imagined myself doing.

#5

Meeting some awesome people and making some AMAZING friends from all over the world.

 

#6

Falling in love with the beauty of autumn.

7

#7

Experiencing the magic of Christmas.

 

#8

Exploring London with my crazy Russian best friend.  

 

#9

Visiting the infamous Dominique Ansel Bakery, and FINALLY trying the mighty ‘cronut’. A moment I’d been dreaming of ever since its creation.

The first bite was magical.

I’m swooning just thinking about it.

 

#10

The day I met Cupcake Jemma!!

Major fan moment!

My heart was thumping. My palms were clammy. We talked. I told her my sisters and I were huge fans. We took a photo (which came out horrid). And then I tried some of Crumbs and Doilies mini cupcakes.

A day I can relive over and over again.

 

I might have gone and visited her again. O.o #stalkerandproud 

#11

My first roller coaster ride at the Winter Wonderland in London.

It only took about two minutes, but the experience will stay with me forever. It was raining and I was laughing and crying.

The whole experience was just exhilarating! And nauseating.

 

#12

My first football match.

Though not a sports fan, I wouldn’t mind going again and again.

I loved the electric atmosphere and the excitement you feel with every pass, tackle and goal!

#13

And the highlight that made all the above highlights possible; being awarded the British Chevening Scholarship.

I am incredibly honored to be given this opportunity, to be one among the 1800 scholars out of 65,000 individuals who applied.

It still feels surreal.

 

Every time I walk through the campus feels surreal.

 

me outside campus

Thank you Chevening for giving me Manchester.

#14

Last but not the least, the highlight of not just this year but forever; having my laser eye surgery done.

It’s quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s changed my life, my confidence, and my happiness. I am SO glad I took the leap and finally got it done. 

Huge thanks to my mother for pushing me to get it done (and my father for financing it :p). ❤ ❤

I am incredibly grateful for all that has come my way this year and I want to thank you for sharing this journey with me. Your response to my Instastories makes my day.

Thank you for all of the love and support.

Happy New Year.

Love,

Noor

Advertisements

Everything you need to know about the Chevening Scholarship

In response to the multitude of questions I’ve gotten on how I received the British Chevening Scholarship, I’ll be explaining the scholarship application process here using my own application as a guideline. I hope this helps and I sincerely hope you apply.

What is Chevening?

Chevening is the UK government’s most prestigious scholarship award coordinated by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and managed by the British High Commission across the Commonwealth countries.

The selection criteria for Chevening Scholarships are aimed to identify “high-caliber graduates with the personal, intellectual and interpersonal qualities necessary for leadership.” You will need to be able to demonstrate all of the following mentioned skills at each step of the application:

  • Personal, intellectual and interpersonal qualities necessary for leadership in home country.
  • Motivation to develop career in order to establish a position of leadership within 10 years.
  • A clear post Scholarship plan, outlining career objectives and how to achieve them.
  • Commitment to networking to find global solutions.
  • Commitment to networking within Chevening community, and alumni network in home country.
  • Use studies and experience in UK to benefit themselves, their country and the UK.
  • Able to successfully complete proposed course of study in the UK.

Specific selection criteria varies from country to country.

Selection Criteria for Pakistan

By researching the Chevening alumni and the list of awardees for this year, I have found that the subject areas most favored in Pakistan are:

  • Cultural studies
  • Development
  • Education
  • Environment and sustainability
  • Law; human rights
  • Management
  • Medical sciences; healthcare
  • Science and Technology

Specifically these are the courses that this year’s awardees are studying:

  • Computer Science
  • Conflict Security and Development
  • Counter Terrorism
  • Criminology
  • Development Administration and Planning
  • Development Studies
  • Economics Politics and Public Policy
  • Education
  • Education and International Development
  • Endocrinology
  • Financial Management
  • Gender Studies and Law
  • Global Health
  • Global Political Economy
  • Governance Development and Public Policy
  • Innovation Management
  • International Accounting and Financial Management
  • International Development
  • International Planning and Sustainable Development
  • International Relations and Security
  • LLM
  • LLM Human Rights
  • Media Practice for Development and Social Change
  • Neuroscience
  • Public Administration
  • Public Financial Management
  • Public Policy

As evident, law and development studies are some of the most popular choices.

You must remember that Chevening focuses on developing international relations amongst the Commonwealth countries so your chosen course of study must align with that goal. It can’t be something like a Masters in Fashion Designing or Architecture. Chevening focuses on building future leaders who can come back to their home country and work to bring change and instill development.

So first things first; decide what you would like to study, how your past experience supports that, and how it aligns with your future goals.

WORK EXPERIENCE

This is the part I get the most questions about.

‘Is two years’ work experience mandatory?’

‘I’ll have two years of experience by the March next year, will that be okay?’

‘How did you get the scholarship if you only graduated last year?’

‘Does voluntary work count?’

‘I was a member of the OC teams at my universities MUN and other events, does that count?’

Yes, work experience counts. Yes, minimum of two years’ work experience is mandatory!

There’s a part in the application where you have to enter the exact number of hours you have worked, there’s no skipping that part.

Now the kind of work can vary. It doesn’t have to be two full years at one work place. It can be different kinds of work for different periods of time but they must all join up to make two years’ worth of experience.

According to the Chevening website:

“The types of work experience that are eligible for Chevening can include:

  • Full-time employment
  • Part-time employment
  • Voluntary work
  • Paid or unpaid internships
  • Work experience can be completed before, during, or after graduating from your undergraduate studies.

Employment undertaken as part of your undergraduate or postgraduate course are not eligible.”

While you can’t count work you did at your university (class projects, school events/conferences/MUNs), you can mention them in your essays. For example, I mentioned being the Director of Broadcasting of the Job Fair and being a member of the various MUNs in my leadership and networking essays but I did not count them as my work experience.

Important!

What will make your application stronger is if your work experience and all your extracurriculars support your desired course of study.

It’s true I only graduated last year. It’s true I only worked an ‘office job’ for 3 months after I graduated. So how did I magically get the scholarship despite no work experience? That’s because my intended course of study was ‘entrepreneurship’ and I had two entrepreneurial ventures to back it up. Spatula in my Pocket and Nuts about Donuts may sound like just another Facebook page to some, or just a hobby to others but they are purely entrepreneurial in nature; started by me, run by me. And that’s how I built my application based on two of my own ventures.

You need to realize that if you run a Facebook page too, featuring your photography or your arts and crafts, but you’re applying to study law or environment sustainability you cannot use those pages to support your application. Your work experience must support your study goals.

In the end, what will make your application stronger is when your work experience and all your extracurricular activities support your desired course of study.

 

APPLICATION TIPS

Here are my tips for getting started with your application:

1.Decide on your course of study and then research the heck out of it. All the universities that offer it in the UK, the faculty, the modules, electives, entry requirements… everything.

Find out what matters to you, what you want to do in your life. You need to choose three courses. All three of your courses can be from the same university or you can choose the same course at three different universities.

Also, don’t forget to research the city as much as the university itself. Would you be comfortable living in a big and expensive city like London or do you prefer something smaller like the quaint city of Bournemouth?

I chose University of Manchester as my first choice because:

  1. The Entrepreneurship program here is ranked as number one in the entire UK
  2. Manchester is known as the city of innovation
  3. Manchester is also known as the student city of UK since there are SO many students all from diverse backgrounds
  4. You get the true “international” experience
  5. It is relatively cheaper than other cities like London

2.Gather all your work experience details and extracurricular activities in one word document. This should include everything you have done in your life that matters; any events you may have participated in, any conferences/workshops you may have attended or helped organized during your college years or after. Were you a teacher’s assistant, a class representative (CR), best intern, employee of the month…any of these, just write them down.

3.Start working on your essays as soon as possible. Do not leave them for the week before the deadline. It takes time to perfect them and trust me these essays count ALOT. Write, edit, review, get someone else to review them too.

More information can be found here >> http://www.chevening.org/apply/eligibility-criteria

—————————————————————————————————————————————–

Some additional questions:

Can PhD students apply?

PhD students can unfortunately not apply.

The courses you choose must be:

  • Full-time
  • Start in the autumn term (usually September/October)
  • Taught master’s (i.e. not research-focused MRes programmes)
  • Lead to a master’s degree qualification
  • Based in the UK

Courses cannot be:

  • Distance learning
  • Part-time
  • Less than nine months in duration
  • More than 12 months in duration
  • PhD or DPhil are not permitted
  • Taught with more than one month of study outside the UK

Do you need to have a good GPA?

I think Chevening focuses more on the experience and the skills. A good GPA does help but a 4.0 isn’t necessary.

Is the scholarship fully funded?

Yes it is.  It comprises of:

  • Payment of tuition fees (see point 1.2.a in relation to MBA fee caps)
  • Economy travel to and from your country of residence by an approved route for you only
  • An arrival allowance
  • The cost of an entry clearance (visa) application for you only
  • A departure allowance
  • A contribution of up to £75 for TB testing, where this is required
  • A travel top up allowance
  • A monthly personal living allowance (stipend) to cover accommodation and living expenses.

 

Exciting news!

SPATULA IN MY POCKET IS MOVING TO ENGLAND!!!

Specifically…Manchester!

In just 5 days!

And I’m thrilled to finally tell you all about it today!  😄 Seriously, it has been killing me to keep this to myself all this time.  My trustees told me not to say a word till the final award letter was here, and then ‘not till you get the visa’, and THEN ‘not till you book your ticket’!

But I’m happy to say that my plan is now officially a go, and in just five days, I’ll be flying across the ocean to my new life in Manchester.  And I cannot wait to get this adventure started.

 

I’ve been dreaming to study in the UK since I was about six when I first started reading Enid Blyton books and fell in love with girl boarding schools. And then came the Great British Bake-Off and I fell in love with Britain all over again. I dream of visiting the Dominique Ansel Bakery, roaming the streets of the Northern Quater, taking pastry classes at Le Cordon Bleu, and studying in a country where there is so much to explore and do.

And in just a few days, I will be making that dream a reality.

I am going to the University of Manchester to pursue a Masters in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship fully sponsored by the British Chevening Scholarship Program.

DSC04097

Chevening is a UK government international award, which sponsors developing global leaders in obtaining a Masters degree at any British university. This program is financed by Foreign and Commonwealth office and is oriented at future leaders, influencers and decision makers from all over the globe.

After an almost year-long agonizing selection process, I am incredibly honored to be chosen as the youngest Chevening Scholar from Pakistan for the year 2018/2019!

Right now, I think it’s safe to say that I am officially feeling all the feels.

I can’t wait to be swept up in the newness of a brand new place with so much to explore and so many new memories to be made. I am just feeling incredibly excited and lucky that I have the opportunity to take an adventure like this. And more than anything, I am super excited to visit all the donut shops I’ve been stalking on Instagram all these years xD

That said, it’s also sinking in just how much I am going to miss my friends and family here back in Pakistan.  And how much life I am going to miss out on here while I am away.

With each passing day, though, the reality of this amazing adventure ahead is starting to feel more and more real.  And I absolutely can’t wait to get there and get it all started!!!  So thank you in advance for following along on the blog and coming there with me and making this entire journey possible. This scholarship would definitely not have been possible if wasn’t for your love and support that made Spatula in My Pocket what it is today.

I can’t wait to write and share all about my adventures, the wonderful people, places, and food I discover along the way. (Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!)

Love you all and thank you!

DSC03880