Scholarshipping: The art of getting in and around penniless.

According to urban dictionary Scholarshipping can be defined as:
”The act of looking at a scholarship website and praying that something applicable will turn up. then mailing out countless applications in hopes that someone else will be kind enough to pay your substantial college debts for you“

It’s clearly north American since in normal countries you don’t really have to pay for school or anything like that. It’s bad enough to go there not even mentioning paying for that. With this word, I would rather associate getting all kinds of “free monies” for the sake of learning, travelling and avoiding full time cubicle employment. Here to be frank – I was trying to come up with a better term than “Scholarshipping” but nothing came to my mind. I still think it’s pretty dull but what can I do. Anyways, the phenomenon itself is pretty common in certain circles since it allows you to avoid making difficult life choices that many people find scarier than most bad things that could happen to them.

But to the point – really often it is going to be university scholarship that makes it possible to move to another country but there are also “scholarships” for seminars, social or scientific projects, youth exchanges, workers activation, senior citizens support, internships etc. They may have many names but in reality they are just “free monies” as long as they help you do something that you want to do. Doesn’t matter what it is, the thing you need to keep in mind is that most or even all institutions are bureaucratic structures and the key is getting to know how the process works.

After that it’s just free monies. From the point of view of efficiency of getting the money, usually a strong guess is alright and even it’s not, the most important thing is actually APPLYING so that they have your application in their system. It’s much different from private sector since usually in these kind of institutions they HAVE TO process and consider your application. And what if nobody else applies? You get it even if it’s for astronauts!:) There is actually a type of people doing that for living. I remember meeting Peter, a 50 year old guy who did his second Phd for the sake of scholarship at university X. He also collected plastic bottles in the summer, didn’t have a phone and preferred hitchhiking from using buses. It’s pretty common to postpone adulthood by multiplying university diplomas and this what post graduate means among smart but limited people who never get out there to be burned and kicked and …. by the cruelty of the job market. Many “Scholarshippers” are paradoxically living their second youths as retirees and are way into their 60s or 70s.

My experience
I did “volunteering” in Belgium, Germany, Switzerland for at least my living costs covered what gave me time to look around in the country. In two cases there was also some pocket monies. I did go to two universities with my tuition fees and living costs covered(Germany and China) and in the second case it was the best deal I could imagine since there was (almost) no strings attached.(Free visa, free monies, free accommodation and insurance). I did also some other minor trips paid by all types of institutions and got myself some free monies by having good grades at times(just enough to apply for monies, most people didn’t apply because they are stupid). Pretty good are EU projects like youth exchanges etc. They pay for everything, including – as it used to be – 70% of travel costs. It’s a bit obnoxious that usually you need to use umbrella organizations that are in charge of the projects, but it’s mostly in their interest to have as many people as it’s only possible since they are getting monies or other benefits themselves.

I remember one organization in Poland called POLITES that took me for training about that Youth in Action program when I was 18. It was in a pretty nice hotel at the lakeside in Western Poland. The training was conducted by two guys in their early 30s who were teaching bunch of random people a bunch of random things. Out of 12 people who came for the “training” there was 6 secondary school students, one granny, me, a freelance painter, weird girl who annoyed everybody talking about animals killed in the slaughterhouse at the dinner and some gray individuals I didn’t manage to remember. The “teachers” were of course “full of shoes” and they didn’t make much sense but it was all based on pretending so that they can get paid and we can get a weekend at a lakeside for free. It would be nice to learn something too but well…. nothing is perfect. What is interesting however is that the guys there were pros at getting free holidays, after having been to dozens(if not hundreds) of places for free so that they could start their own organization and get monies + free holidays sometimes simultaneously. They weren’t wiseguys, or for the matter of fact they weren’ t even that smart and certainly full of shit but man… that IS pretty impressive to scrape together a nest like that.

My favorite experience however was going to “Willowing seminar” where we were supposed to learn things about willowing. (yes like the dry willow willowing) and that was basically just an excuse to invite some people from other countries to come and hang around a little bit since all was paid by an independent foundation. We had a nice hotel where we stayed, pick up service everyday and even some organized trips, food at pretty decent restaurants. Everybody was really nice and laid back. It was probably the best holidays of my life so far even though its subject was pretty ridiculous and I didn’t spend a penny. (The main photo is from there:)

What did I use and how did I got to know these things?
I used student exchange scholarship to study in Germany, Chinese government scholarship to study in China, Grundtvig Foundation scholarship to go to Finland, and Service Civil International projects to go to Belgium and Switzerland. “Youth in Action” projects are very easily available to go for short term holidays and there is plethora of different institutions and foundations who also give free monies. Universities are the most obvious one since student status gives many privileges and scholarship options, grants etc. so this is the place you should start looking for. Usually only applying is enough. In China they apparently took everybody who applied and the deal was sooo good that it seemed too good to be true.
Resources is the biggest database known to me for people living in European countries. has a lot of “study in Germany” scholarships – is the database of scholarships funded by Chinese government – Confucius institute scholarships – Grundtvig foundation lifelong learning projects
The list will be extended if there is any interest in it

This article has 2 Comments

    1. Hey Libert, Youth in Action is mostly for EU countries and it’s pretty complicated for single individuals to apply. Chinese government scholarship is I think possible to receive with a High School diploma – you must be below 25 however and there is some other requirements like e.g. speaking Chinese. You can Google China Scholarship Council’s website and you will find there all the info you need.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *