Sounds unfair, but this is the reality :(

Curious about the title above? That sentence is describing my thought now.

I write this article because recently, some of my international colleagues discuss about their academic performance. One of them, a researcher and not an English native speaker, complaining about her grades. She doesn’t satisfied with the grades. She feels that actually, she did better than her classmates, IF she was allowed to write in her own language. She is asking why she should be judged, mainly because of her English capability, not by her ideas and thoughts. This situation reminds me to the past, when I was struggling to increase my IELTS result from 6.5 to 7.

Because of my university choice in my scholarship, I should get IELTS result in overall 7 with no individual grades are lower than 6.5. If I chose other university, I would depart directly without having English courses. I remember that I felt angry and sad in the same time. I regretted my decision. I never stopped thinking why I chose the university with a higher English requirement. I already have a scholarship! I have gotten the money but I cannot study yet. IELTS 6.5 is not a bad result. With this grade, people can enroll to study overseas in many top universities. But, unfortunately, I can’t. It’s not me (yet).

After conquering my sadness, I agreed to take an English course. This is an intensive course for 10 weeks. The length of study has been believed helping students to gain 0.5 higher in their IELTS result. I followed the course with a lot of hope. I believed that I can get the target. I studied and worked hard until I got migraine several times.

After 10 weeks, I took IELTS test again… and… I got 6.5 again 😦

I felt pain. I was angry because I felt that I already put a lot of efforts. I began to blame everything. I was depressed. I thought that my efforts were useless.

But… then…I realized that I should use my anger to do a positive things. I still had another chance. I was put into another 3-months English courses. This time, I changed my strategy. I spoke to my teachers and discussed about my weakness intensively, focusing on my grammar and vocabulary for academic IELTS, not just general English.

More efforts, more study time, and more hard work (and of course more migraine).  Then, I got my minimum requirement. I got 7! The (magical) number that had haunted me for many days.

Now, after I have finished my first year in my Master program, I can tell you loudly that…oh yeah…it feels so good to cope academic life with IELTS 7 rather than 6.5! I write and speak more confidently.

So, when my colleagues asked rhetorically, I smiled and said: “It is definitely not easy for us, who comes from developing country, who are not English native speakers, to study overseas in English speaking country. We will be graded with the academic English standard despite English is not our first language (in fact, English is my third language!). We will be treated similarly with our colleagues who are English native speakers. If they can understand a journal article by reading it once, we may need longer time and sometimes, need to reread again. If they need a week to do an argumentative essay, we may need a whole month!…This is our own choice to study in English speaking country, so we must know English. You may feel this is unfair, but this is the reality. Let’s fight. We are intrepid, mate!” 😀

PS : For my ‘7’ result, I want to say thank you for 7 amazing things in my time of struggle:

1.  my lovely English teachers: (a batik lover) Patrick, (a bonek wanita) Jane, (a funny guy) Pete, and the others

2. my NZAID friends in the English courses: (my roommate) Susi, (my flatmate) Cici, Kak Elsa, and Fifi

3. all of my coursemate

4. all of the staff: you rock, rek!

5. bebek mercon (duck firecrackers) and penyetan, my top 2 culinary in the ‘city of heroes’

6. ‘Sancaka’ train, for connecting me to my family

7. and last but not least, my medicine for migraine 😀

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