I am sitting in a cozy café right around the corner from the main city square in Zagreb, Croatia listening to soft jazz and I am ashamed to admit sipping the foam off of my 3rd cappuccino today. I love it here, everything about it is purely and genuinely me. I love the buzz of the city center, the liveliness of urban inhabitants, long chats with friends, cappuccinos, November Christmas lights, meat and fish markets, soft evening clouds, and most of all Zagreb’s illuminating skyline.

Getting here was no walk in the park, in fact, it was more like getting pushed over kicked around and dragged through the park. At times it felt as if I was never going to get the opportunity to study abroad because with every win I suffered two losses. The point is, I never gave up. For months I worked tirelessly on applications, scholarships, and essays on top of working and being a full time student. In the end, I am happy to say that my work paid off, not only was I granted the opportunity to study for a year in Zagreb, Croatia I also learned the valuable lesson that: determination, resilience, and stubbornness are the three qualities that proved most important on this journey so far.

Now for the appreciation part, I was awarded two very generous scholarships one of them being the UNM blog abroad scholarship which is the platform for which I am writing to you now. The second scholarship was a competitive national scholarship granted by the U.S. Government. Maybe you have heard of it: The International Gilman Scholarship. For those of you reading this thinking that I am some wizard essay writer, I am not. The honest truth is that a few of the Gilman winners opted not to accept the award and the second place essay writers by default were granted the awards instead. That is where I came in! Aside from this mildly embarrassing story about how I won this scholarship, I am here to tell you to never give up, be determined, be resilient, and most of all be stubborn. One final thing, remember to thank all of those people who made your journey a little less painful so here I go: Thank you to the whole Global Education team putting up with my constant e-mails and unscheduled appointments. Thank you to the Blog Abroad scholarship for giving me the opportunity to be able to share my experience via ThePack and thank you for the money. Thank you Gilman Scholarship Fund for teaching me that I deserve this and that second place winners are the real winners here, also thank you for the money. Thank you friends and family for the sleepless nights and the hundreds of essay edits that you patiently read through. And finally, thank you mom for keeping me sane and advocating for me when I felt like I didn’t have a voice.

If any of you are interested, here is the link to the Gilman Scholarship website I highly recommend : http://www.iie.org/Programs/Gilman-Scholarship-Program#.WCsvD1ffN-U