For the last few months, I’ve read many blogs and watched lots of YouTube videos about the GKS scholarship and application process. I found that the blogs were more informative when it came to the application process. From reading them it seemed that most of the applicants experienced similar things during the application stage. Most of the past applicants have been preparing for this scholarship for the last three years or they’ve tried multiple times to win the scholarship. I, on the other hand, completed my application process in three days. I DO NOT RECOMMEND DOING THIS AS IT PUTS YOU UNDER A LOT OF UNWANTED STRESS.
I’ve decided to write about my own personal experience because it’s not only something I can look back on but it also gives some insight to future applicants about the whole GKS experience. I’ve decided to upload it in parts because there is a lot to write about and I don’t want to make this too long.
This year I decided to apply for the KGSP (Korean Global Scholarship Program). As usual, the Application form for the undergraduate embassy track was announced by my local Korean Embassy on the 30th of September. I eagerly started filling in the form as soon as it came out. However, as I also had my IB exams approaching I left it for a while thinking that I could hand it in on the 30th of October. Unfortunately, I had misread the deadlines and on the 15th of October, I was rushing through the essays and personal statement begging my teachers to write reference letters in a day. It was a very stressful time but I was really lucky to have understanding and supporting teachers who were willing to help me get everything done on time.
Tuesday 15th October 2019: This afternoon at 3:00 pm I was at the Korean embassy handing in my application form for the KGSP scholarship. I had no idea what to expect but I was thinking it would be awesome to get to go to Korea to study as I’ve always loved Korea, the people and the culture. However, after receiving a rejection letter from the Australian Scholarship that I applied for at the beginning of the year I didn’t want to be too optimistic. I also wasn’t sure about how many people I was competing against for this place so I just kind of forgot about it after that.
Friday 19th October 2019: After having a really bad day at school with deadlines and drama and the lot; I received a phone call from an unknown number which I missed because my phone was one silent -.- and when I called back it was Korean Voicemail. I freaked out first because I couldn’t understand what the machine was saying and secondly because I missed the call. Luckily 10 minutes later the Embassy called again saying that they received my application and that I had an interview on Wednesday the following week (23.10.19). I was really excited and really nervous because I had never done anything like that before and I had no idea what sort of questions to expect but I had a week to mentally prepare myself.
Wednesday 23rd October 2019: Today was my Interview, I was able to get permission to leave school early so that I had enough time to prepare myself for the interview. I mean it’s just an interview but it was my first ever formal interview and I’m not really the best at speaking to new people, so I needed some extra time. I was pretty early, so I just waited in the car, listened to some music and read over some notes I had written over the last week.
INTERVIEW TIP: instead of cramming answers to questions that you aren’t even sure they are going to ask you. Make sure you understand why you really want to go and that have the right reasons for going. Yes, it’s okay to prepare answers for questions that you think they are going to ask you like ‘why do you want to go to Korea?’, ‘why do you think you’re the best candidate for this scholarship?’ but don’t memorize answers like a robot. I’m pretty sure that’s the last thing they want to hear. If you are genuinely passionate about this scholarship it will show through that way you speak and they will have more reason to choose you.
Twenty minutes before the interview time, I decided to just go upstairs to the Korean Embassy and wait there. On the way up in the elevator I was with another lady who I thought was another candidate… turns out she was my interviewer >_<. Anyway, I had to wait for about 20 minutes in the waiting room. Just watching Korean news and talking to another candidate. She was really friendly and we were both really nervous and passed the time by talking about what universities we chose and different courses we were interested in.
In different countries, the interview processes are different; for Fiji since there weren’t that many applicants we got to do the interviews individually. For my interview, there were three people sitting across from me, two women were from the embassy and I’m not 100% sure where the 3rd woman was from but she was most likely a representative of NIIED. It was a really relaxed atmosphere, very different from what I had read about. We were sitting in a lounge sort of room overlooking the Suva harbour, they were very friendly which made me feel more comfortable and I was able to confidently answer their questions and talk about why I wanted the scholarship.
From my business classes in school, I’ve learned that it helps when you have a niche product to offer. For this interview, my ‘niche product’ was the fact that I’m mixed race meaning that I’ve had the opportunity to experience two different cultures growing up. Also, from a young age being in an international school I’ve had the pleasure of knowing people from different cultures. I emphasized that this made me more open-minded and accepting to new cultures and lifestyles making it easier to adjust in comparison to students who had not experienced this.
The interview was about 20 minutes but the time went by really quickly (there were no awkward silences >_<). As I was leaving they said that they would contact me again in the next few weeks. They seemed really happy which made me really happy and I could only hope for the best.
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