This will be my first post for the Study in Korea Tips and Cheats series! I got few information about different scholarships available for students who wants to study in Korea. I will also share my experience in applying for an exchange student scholarship in my university here in the Philippines!
When I was in my 1st year 1st semester in college, I took up Japanese language classes. After realizing that I wanted to study Korean, I shifted to studying Korean language during the second semester. While taking language classes, I’ve been hearing a lot of stories about students from our department going to other countries like Japan and Korea for an exchange student program. I became curious and tried to look for the requirements for the scholarship because I really wanted to go to Korea.
I saw the requirements and realized that I was still ineligible to apply for the program because I am freshman standing that time and they need sophomore to senior college students. I waited for few more months until I became sophomore and I immediately applied for the program in Korea. It was summer 2010 when I prepared for my application. We needed to submit an essay stating the reasons why we want to study in Korea, a resume and a copy of grades. I can still remember the day that I submitted all the requirements to the Scholarship office of our university! I was very nervous that day that my hands were trembling while I handed my papers to the guy in the table. We were told to wait for the call regarding the scheduled panel interview.
Almost three weeks have passed when I submitted all the requirements for the scholarship screening when I received a call regarding my schedule for the interview! I didn’t prepare for the interview. I went to the interview room wearing casual clothes, my cheer you up shirt, jeans and a pair of sneakers! I didn’t realize that the interviewers are wearing coat and tie! The other interviewees were also wearing formal clothes! I really want to disappear at that moment because I literally look like a trash. I felt that I will not have an advantage to the other interviewees because of what I was wearing.
There were 6-7 professors inside the interview room and they came from different colleges in our university. The head of the panel was the director of the scholarship office (and she’s my current professor in one of my subjects ㅋㅋㅋㅋ). They asked me to introduce myself in English and in Korean. My Korean skills that time is really elementary so I was only able to do the basic 자기소개(self-introduction). During the interview I became somewhat emotional when the interviewers asked me about my family. They also asked me why do I love Korea. They based all of their interview questions on my essay so it was not really hard for me to answer them. The last question for me was “Who do you prefer to marry? A Filipino or a Korean?”. I found the question funny and weird. Even though I love Korea and Koreans, I still chose Filipino ㅋㅋㅋㅋ and then I explained my answer. Again, we were told to wait for few months for the release of qualified applicants. The interview is the last stage of screening; meaning, if you pass the interview, you’re almost in the finish line.
Every time my phone will ring and the number is not registered, my heart beats faster because I don’t know if it’s a call from the office of the scholarship program. I waited for 5 months before I received a call from their office. It was December 2010 when I received a call from them. They asked me if I’ve already taken up Korean classes. I said yes and then they said nothing else. I didn’t know if that’s just to make sure that I am still qualified for the program or because of something else that I am not aware of. After a week, I received another call from them telling me to drop by their office! I asked my batch mates who also applied for the program if they also received a call, and when they said yes, we had a feeling that we’re the next batch of the new exchange students. And we were not wrong! I got the scholarship!
Okay, so much for the story how I got the scholarship. Here are some tips on HOW and WHERE to get scholarships for students who wants to study in Korea.
- Why avail a scholarship?
It’s expensive to study in Korea without a scholarship! Each semester costs around 1,500,000won-above! Well, it still depends if the university is private or a national university but for me, it is better to study for free ㅋㅋㅋ
- Where to get scholarships?
In my case, my university is offering an exchange student program scholarship every year. You may want to check your school or university’s Scholarship Services office about some information on going abroad to study. You can also check the Korean embassy in your country for available scholarship programs. One of the famous scholarship programs is the KGSP or the Korean Government Scholarship which offers scholarships for undergraduate studies and graduate studies (Masters or PhD). Check out their website or NIIED for more information about the scholarship program that they are offering. You can also check out some Korean universities which offers scholarships to foreign students.
- What are the perks of a scholarship program?
It depends on what kind of scholarship you applied for. Some exchange student programs scholarships only lasts for a week, 2 weeks, a month, half a year to one year and KGSP for 3-4 years. It depends on the memorandum of agreement of the institution where you applied and their partner university in Korea. Some scholarships offers full-tuition fee is waived, free dormitory, free food, free airfare and monthly allowance. I repeat, not all scholarships offer all of those things for free. In my case, I got accepted in Hannam University in Daejeon, South Korea and I studied there for 10 months/Spring and Fall semester. My scholarship grant includes waived tuition fee for two semesters, free dormitory and monthly allowance. Our school offered us a school-based part-time job to pay for the airfare.
- Tips when preparing for the application to the scholarship program!
Arranged the required papers for the program that you are applying for. Good grades are also one of the major requirements for scholarships so maintain a good grade. I think there’s always an interview so prepare for the interview! Don’t dress like what I wore during my interview so wear proper clothes ㅋㅋㅋㅋ! Knowledge in Korean is an advantage! So if you still don’t know Korean, better learn basic Korean before you apply. It is also an advantage if you already have a TOPIK/Korean proficiency certificate! Of course, prepare legal documents like passports and birth certificates if in case they are also needed for application. Lastly, be your self and do your best! Believe in your self, be confident, stand out!
I remembered what my high school teacher said, “Dream beyond your dreams”. Those words became my inspiration to get that scholarship. I was very envious at those students who already went to Korea to study and I promised to my self that one day, I will be able to go there too! If in case that you didn’t get the scholarship, try again next time! Don’t give up until you reach that dream! =))
I hope this looooong post can help! If you have questions, don’t hesitate to leave a message and I’ll try my best to answer them. Mind sharing your experiences applying for a scholarship in Korea?