My personal experience

So! What about me? Why did I choose to apply to a foreign scholarship? Why more specially South Korea?

———-

I actually starting learning korean when I was in high school. At that time I regularly met a korean teacher and she was the one that introduced me to KGSP. I had many hopes once at the university. I really wanted to study abroad, in fact I have always wanted to do so. But then I realized that would not be possible because it was too expensive 😦
So I juste stayed in France, watching my friends going abroad and hoping that one day it would be my turn.

I graduated years after years without forgetting KGSP. To me, it was the only opportunity to study abroad so I kept it in mind. I almost applied for a master’s degree via KGSP but I changed my mind. I didn’t feel ready and I though it was better to have a french master degree before starting anything abroad (yeah I have no confidence on myself so it was a security).

I ended applying for a doctoral’s degree, approximatively 6/7 years after discovering KGSP. It means that during these years I get prepared. I knew exactly the prerequisites so I prepared my application. KGSP want good grades? I achieved that. They want language certification? I improved my korean and english skills.

Some people asked me how I was accepted in 3 top-universities (Yonsei, Hanyang and KAIST). My answer is quite easy: I was well prepared. It is the result of several years of preparation, there is no luck in it.

 

So, how was my application process?

1/ Starting january I started working on the universities list given by KGSP: University Information(English). For almost each university available by KGSP I went to the website to look for courses and so on. So I made a list of universities that offer interesting degrees.

2/ Once I had the universities list, I contacted korean teacher affiliated to these universities. As I applied to a doctoral degree in biotechnology, it means that I will need to do a thesis in a laboratory. I wanted to make sure to have a thesis topic I am interested in. So I sent approximatively 10 different emails. In each of them I provided university transcripts, my resume, several letters of recommendation, and a motivation letter to explain how work KGSP. Out of that I get 4 answers and there were all positives. I was so happy!!! I got 2 positive answer from KAIST laboratories and 2 from Hanyang laboratories. That is why I have chosen to apply to these 2 universities. As my third choice I picked Yonsei because there were several laboratories I was interested in (but none answered to my emails).

3/ I don’t know how many students applied to KGSP in France. They said that they have approximatively 10 applications each year. And I was selected by the french embassy to get the interview. It was a really short skype conversation. Something like 10 minutes. There were 4 people behind the screen, 2 french people and 2 koreans. They asked me to introduce myself in korean (but it was not mandatory). Then all the questions they asked were based on my motivation letter and they wanted to make sure that I knew well the KGSP process. For me, there was no difficult question. Most of time I repeat what I wrote. I guess it depends on the study field. In my case, I don’t think they had a lot to ask about biotechnology or bioengineering. I heard that people applying for political, historical or literature degree may have harder questions. Warning! One of the contestant had to make the full interview in korean as she wrote her motivation letter in korean. They were actually disappointed by her speaking skill and in the end she did not make it. So be careful, do not try to be perfect or to lie to them.

4/ Then, I successfully passed the NIIED selection (nothing to do beside waiting XD).

5/ After that, my application was sent to the 3 universities. I was scared to get an interview….but I didn’t not get one. Very quickly Hanyang and Yonsei sent their results and for both I was accepted! I was so happy! I mean, being accepted by at least one mean that you basically have the scholarship. Once the deadline, we have something like 1 week to send our final university choice to NIIED. In my case, I did not receive any answer from KAIST while other contestants get theirs. I sent several emails to the university….I finally get something from NIIED the day before the final choice. I have been chosen by KAIST as their successful applicants.

Image3

SO…..what is my final choice?
Everyone around me advised me to accept either Yonsei or KAIST because they are better ranked than Hanyang. For instance KAIST is the best science university in South Korea. But I ended choosing Hanyang^^
From the beginning I was not interested by Yonsei as I did not get any answer from any researchers there. And as for KAIST, despite being the better university in korean, it is not located in Seoul so that annoys me a little. Beside that, it was really hard for me to contact the administration. Compared to that, I already had several conversations with Hanyang researchers and its administration always answered to my emails in less than 24 hours. Even better, at KAIST I would have registered for a natural sciences degree. In Hanyang, I registered for a bioengineering degree : new topics and news courses. And even more interesting I had the confirmation that most of Hanyang courses would be in english.

6/ Once I have chosen Hanyang Uni, I had to take the medical examination. That is not the best part of the application but it is still mandatory. I advise you not to lose time on that: some analysis may take some time.

7/ And here is the final result:

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I would have like to be assigned in Busan for the Language Institution but I get Chosun University at Gwangju. It was on my top-list so I was still happy. I heard that for instance Konyang Uni is terrible and I avoided it 🙂 In my motivation letter I wrote down the cities I visited during my trip in Korea and Gwangju was not part of them so that may be one of the reason explaining this attribution.

8/ Then you need to apply for the VISA: D4 if you start with the language year or D2 if you directly start your degree. It can take a lot of time depending on the country and the period of application. I personnaly got it in only 1 week but some were worried to not receive it before the departure.

9/ At the end of july we received our flight ticket by NIIED. I personnaly choose to let NIIED handle the plane ticket. Some decided to buy their plane ticket themselves, that is a good idea to consider. For instance, some have chosen to take airlines companies that allow 2 checked baggages. As for NIIED they will give you plane ticket from Asiana Airlines or Korean Air. Depending on the reservation you may have a 32kg checked baggage instead of 23kg but you need to call the company to have this information.

10/ During july, the coordinator of Chosun University contacted us several times to organize the pick-up at the airport, to choose our dormitory and so on.

And here I am D-1 before the departure!

 

 

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13 thoughts on “My personal experience

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  1. Thank you for the detailed information. I’m planning for doctoral as well. If you could tell me was the scholarship enough to survive in Korea. Did Hanyang give you an additional stipend? Also how’s the PhD experience so far?

    1. Hello! It has been a long time I have not update this website but I will do it for sure to talk about my PhD experience. The scholarship money is enough to survive in Korea, you do not have to worry about that. About stipend money, it depends on your major. If you are a student in science or technology field you will have to work in lab all time and most probably you will be paid for that. But I also wanna stress that lab life is difficult…. >//<
      In my case I will drop out next semester because I can not handle many things in my lab –'
      Of course it depends on your research team a lot, some are nice….. but most foreigners I met doing PhD in research lab want to run away XD
      so if you are a science/technology major, please consider what I just said carefully, it is not just about having a lot of work, it's also about having relational difficulties with korean labmates, researchers or professor, adapting to the korean working way to do, no training…..
      As a french person, the korean environment really does not fit what I was used to having and what I actually like and need to do a proper PhD and grow as a scientist.
      Do the best choice for you~

  2. Hello, my name is David and thank you for sharing with us this precious information about your experiences. I would ask you about how I make my recommendation letters because I’ll apply for GKS 2021 !?

    1. Hello! i don’t really understand your question. What do you mean by “how to make recommendation letters”?
      detailed information about GKS 2021 will be out at the beginning of February, if there is no change with the previous edition, you need to provide recommendation letters from 2 different persons (university teacher, supervisors…)
      and you need 4 copies of each letter if you apply via the embassy

  3. hello and question! for when you take a year to learn the language and culture studies, do you get to choose any university or you’re given a certain list? pls explain hehe. also, with the luggage and all, since you are moving, how much bags can you bring? or can you just ship the others things to Korea? also how are the roommates chosen? can you request?

    1. Hello, you can not choose the university you will study Korean : the Korean government decides for you, you will just receive a notice saying they send you to Gwangju for instance.
      The numbers of luggage depending on the airline. either you accept the ticket offered by the united with Korean Air or Asiana airlines so it will be only 1 luggage (in my case I accepted Asiana airlines and paid for 1 more luggage)
      or you can also decide to buy the ticket by yourself, so you can pick an airline offering 2 free luggage
      you can ship things to Korea if you want to but I do not advise it, you can honestly find everything you need in Korea
      you can not decide on your roommate, every university has its own policy, sometimes they put kgsp student with each other and sometimes they mix kgsp students with Korean ones.
      sometimes you can change your roommate or do some request on your roommate, it really depends

  4. Hi and I hope I’m not too late to receive a reply! I am hopefully going to apply for the GKS 2022 PhD level embassy track and I’m still doing my research on the whole decision and application honestly.

    I noticed you mentioned biotechnology and I’m really interested to know of your experience lab wise especially as I am searching for PhD in Food Science and Biotechnology.

    On another note, can you mention how “prepared” was your application to get accepted into prestigious Korean universities? What I mean is did you have qualifications beyond the high GPA, English/Korean certificates, publications, etc..

    Also would you recommend contacting professors or it didn’t make a difference since Yonsei University accepted you anyway, and if so could you share your email format and what type of attachments you added to the email and such?

    Thank you so much in advance and sorry for the long list of questions but I’m desperate to know

    1. Hello, sorry for my late answer. I highly do not advise you to come do your PhD in science in korea >//<
      my lab experience was terrible…. and it was not just me. I would say 95% of students (korean+international) suffer.
      As I said to others, I will publish an article about my experience and describe lab life in korea soon, as I am still living in korea at the moment I better not publish anything.
      So as for now, I can not give you much details but…. try to consider applying somewhere else. I met many desperate and miserable students there (including me), I quitted so I lost 3 academic years, I know it can be difficult to hear and to consider giving up on this amazing experience but depression is real in korea.

      As for my qualifications : no publications, TOEIC + TOPIK 2 (at the time of application), GPA 4/4, 2 internationals awards for a scientific competition, bachelor+master in science, bachelor in korean language and culture

      I personally contacted professor but it is not mandatory and I think it is not necessary. As stated before, lab life is pretty terrible so rather than contacting professor I would advise to contact students and ask them about the life in their lab.

      Stay tuned, I will release the article with details once I go back to France, so by the end of summer.

      Best

  5. hello
    Much appreciate you for provided article, it has been very useful!!!
    My situation is a little bit different. I am planning to apply for Bachelor’s degree. And I wanna ask you that which studying language is better to choose ( English or Korean) or can choosing either of them give more advantage than other one to be selected?
    Is having English Proficiency Test certificate mandatory?
    Thank you in advance!!!

    1. Is your question whether to learn english or korean? If you wanna live your whole life in korea I advise to learn korean. But if it is not the case, I advise you to focus on English. During KGSP you will have 1 full year to focus on learning korean only anyway so I think its better to provide an English certification.
      I am not aware of the new requirements but in my time there was no language proficiency that was required, it was a bonus.

      Best

  6. Thank you for all this info – it’s great! Can you elaborate the bad experiences at Konyang? Did the school do anything when people complained? I think no?

    1. I do not have much information about it, just that this school was pretty famous among us as the worst and we were really sad for the students there. As far as I know the students did complain to KGSP but nothing ever happened, they were ignored (maybe money things?) but from my personal experience, KGSP tends to avoid annoying things so in my case, when I asked for help…. well they just ignored me

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