Six Singaporeans get bond-free scholarships from French govt

Both Miss Xenia Chan (left) and Mr Nicolas Wong (right) received bond-free scholarships from the French government. PHOTO: COURTESY OF XENIA CHAN, NICOLAS WONG

SINGAPORE - Ms Xenia Chan plans to build a career in the world of international diplomacy and she is now one step closer to her goal after securing a bond-free scholarship from the French government.

Miss Chan, 23, is one of six Singaporeans to get the funding for a master's degree through the France Excellence programme.

She graduated from the National University of Singapore (NUS) this year with a bachelor's degree in global studies and is now at Sciences Po university in Paris pursuing a Master in International Governance and Diplomacy.

Sciences Po is a prestigious research university in France, known for its political science programmes.

Miss Chan has been in France since August.

In a Zoom chat with The Straits Times, she said the exposure to an internationally diverse group of peers and rigorous lessons is just what she signed up for.

Miss Chan said: "I've been interested in French culture and learning French because of its relevance to international diplomacy - as an official language of the United Nations - so getting exposure to the language on a daily basis is great."

The scholarship covers air tickets, accommodation and tuition fees, and is part of the French government's Bienvenue En France, or Welcome to France, strategy.

It aims to bring 500,000 international students to the country by 2027, said a spokesman for the French Embassy in Singapore.

Miss Chan and the other five recipients were selected from a group of 16 applicants for their strong academic qualifications and motivation to study in France, the spokesman added.

Another recipient of the scholarship is Mr Nicolas Wong, 28, who is pursuing a degree in sports industry management at Emlyon Business School's Paris campus.

After graduating from NUS in 2018, Mr Wong worked in a non-governmental organisation for a year but realised that his passion was in cycling. He then switched to the retail sector, working as a retail manager in the cycling department of Decathlon.

After two years there, he decided that although he had an undergraduate degree in global studies, he needed more qualifications.

Mr Wong's girlfriend is French and they met while she was studying at NUS on an exchange programme.

He said: "French culture is very different from Singapore culture - when they work, they work at 100 per cent but when it's rest time, it's 100 per cent rest time."

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