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Student Madeleine Crothers in Central Java, Indonesia

8 May 2024

‘Prepare to have the best time’: how an NCP grant has shaped Maddie’s future

Are you interested in integrating some overseas study and travel into your degree? Then you need to know about the New Colombo Plan (NCP). This Australian Government initiative aims to lift knowledge of the Indo–Pacific by supporting Australian undergraduates to live, study and intern in the region.

Each scholarship is worth up to $70,000 and provides you educational, professional and personal development opportunities across 40 Indo–Pacific countries. An ever-growing cohort of NCP alumni is becoming an influential and diverse network of Australians with direct experience in the Indo-Pacific, holding strong professional and personal networks across our region.

Here, 2022 NCP Scholar for Indonesia Madeleine Crothers shares how the NCP program has enhanced her study experience and given her memories that will last a lifetime.

My name is Madeleine Crothers I hold a Bachelor of International Studies (Global Scholar) and a Diploma of Indonesian from Deakin University.

I undertook a 19-month Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade NCP Scholarship where I lived in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. This is a nationally competitive scholarship based on academic excellence and leadership skills.

For this program, I completed a six-month semester exchange at Universitas Gadja Mada in Yogyakarta. In Bangkok, Thailand, I completed a five-month internship with the United Nations Economic Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific in the Social Development Division. I concluded my program in Hanoi, Vietnam, through a two-month internship with Aus4Skills, a ten-year partnership (2016–2025) between Vietnam and Australian governments to build Vietnam’s human resource capacity. I also completed four months of Bahasa Indonesia language study and two months of Thai language study among other various volunteer and community development internships.

How did you spend your weekends?
No two weekends were ever the same!

Almost every second to third weekend I was travelling to a new place including tourist hotspots with friends from my exchange, visiting remote areas with locals or completing field trips for my internships.

If I stayed at home for the weekend, I would meet with friends at cafes, visit new bars, see local tourist sites, go shopping, play sports or study. There were always different activities to be involved with like learning to wakeboard, taking language classes, doing escape rooms or trying new foods!

Did you go on any memorable trips to explore your host country or maybe a nearby country?
It is hard to choose just one; I had so many amazing trips over my 19 months abroad! One of my favourite weekend trips was visiting two volcanoes, Mount Bromo and Mount Ijen in Indonesia. 

Student Madeleine Crothers and friend at Mt Rinjani in Lombok, Indonesia.

Over a four-day public holiday, my friends from my semester abroad and I travelled to East Java. We woke up at 11pm on the first day to hike Mount Ijen. Mount Ijen has the world’s largest natural blue flame and the crater has incredible light blue sulphur-infused water. It was seriously stunning!

The next day, we woke up at 2am to see Mt Bromo. I had never seen such a unique landscape and we had the opportunity to walk around the crater of this active volcano. On the way home, we also visited a stunning waterfall!

Some other honourable mentions include visiting the island of Karimunjawa, hiking Lombok’s Mt Rinjani, diving in Koh Tao, and backpacking Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Laos.

How did you decide which study abroad opportunity to do?
For me, choosing my semester abroad at Universitas Gadja Mada (UGM) was an obvious choice. I had studied Bahasa Indonesia in high school and university and wanted to continue studying the language in Indonesia. The exchange process was easy to organise with the help of one of Deakin’s partner organisations, ACICIS. I did the Flexible Language Immersion Program where classes were offered in English, I studied Law, International Relations and Bahasa Indonesia. I also did a community development internship that was included in the exchange program.

I contributed my insights about studying abroad at UGM in this video interview, so please take a look if you’re interested in learning more about completing a semester abroad.

For my internships, I wanted to intern with the United Nations and applied for many opportunities. I was then accepted to intern with UNESCAP in the Social Development Division in Bangkok. I also wanted experience working alongside the Australian Embassy, so I reached out to the Australian Embassy in Vietnam and they offered an internship with the Aus4Skills Partnership in Hanoi, managed by Tetra Tech. These were both great opportunities and I would highly recommend them to other students!

How did you finance your trip? How much did your trip cost?
With the NCP Scholarship, I received $2500 per month for the 19-month program. Future NCP Scholars receive $3000 a month. I found my stipend adequately covered all costs of my 19-month program, this was due to my budgeting and living in countries with an affordable cost of living. I was lucky to not have to spend any of my savings.

What’s your one piece of advice for a student who is preparing to study abroad? How should they prepare?
It is normal to feel anxious about moving abroad however, remember your host country will have everything you need and you can always take a trip back home! Prepare to have the best time!

Open yourself up to a world of opportunities! 

To be in the running for an NCP Scholarship, you must meet the eligibility criteria and be nominated by Deakin. Applications for 2025 close on 9 June 2024, so here’s how to apply.

If you’re interested in a short-term study abroad opportunity with an NCP mobility grant, keep an eye out on our webpage and Deakin Life to see what’s coming up during the rest of 2024.

Your course structure will determine which mobility program is most suitable for you. Our programs will allow you to gain a global perspective while earning credit towards your Deakin degree.

The world is ready for you! Where will you go?

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