Securing a Scholarship to Study Abroad During the Pandemic

Se Horseng clocked up several years working with NGOs before he decided to apply for a scholarship in South Korea. Despite the challenges of applying in the midst of the pandemic, he succeeded and is currently studying a Master’s degree in Busan
Se Horseng. Kiripost/supplied
Se Horseng. Kiripost/supplied

After gaining many years of work experience with NGOs, Se Horseng decided to apply for a scholarship despite many struggles during the pandemic.

“After that I worked for two years also, I changed my job to another organisation called Save the Children Cambodia and I worked there for around 1.5 years. So, in total, I worked for NGOs for more than two years before I got my scholarship and came to Korea,'' Horseng said.

Horseng, 26, was born in Kandal province as the youngest child of a sister and brother. Before becoming a scholarship student in South Korea, Horseng earned two Bachelor’s degrees in Interpersonal Communication at Pannasastra University of Cambodia and English for translation and interpretation at the Institution of Foreign Languages, Royal University of Phnom Penh.

He is currently pursuing his Master’s degree in Communication in English at Busan University of Foreign Studies under a Global Korea Scholarship (GKS).

Horseng told Kiripost that he was in the process of applying for the scholarship during the Covid-19 pandemic and there were not many opportunities available. However, after seeing the GKS scholarship, Horseng decided to apply, despite the challenges and struggles of Covid-19.

Se Horseng and his foreign friends in front of South Korean flag. Kiripost/supplied
Se Horseng and his foreign friends in front of South Korean flag. Kiripost/supplied

“My own concern was that I did not dare to go out that much because I was afraid I would get infected. I also went back to my hometown during that time because we still needed to work from home. So, it was a hard time preparing the documents because generally some areas were locked down and that’s why I was afraid to go out, especially coming to Phnom Penh,” he recalled.

“Actually, I was well prepared for the scholarship because I started to search for it about one month before the period of application opened, but the most challenging issue at that time was that our country was in lockdown often, that's why some institutions did not open for some services,” he said.

After spotting the GKS announcement, Horseng started to prepare himself. He said he wanted to study on his own without depending on family funding anymore. He believed that having a scholarship to study abroad would help him to be more confident and meet new people from various countries.

“At that time, I already started to work and if I went to other scholarships that could not provide me enough funding or stipend to live, I could not choose it because I don't want to depend on my family to sponsor me to study any more,” he said.

“Another reason is that the scholarship provided to students is to study Korean for one year and I was 25- to 26-years-old already, so I thought it’s not easy to study another language. They just sponsored us with everything, we came and studied and I wanted to study a new language. Korea is also a country that has good quality education, it’s a developed country so I think at that time I expected to learn a lot from Korea,” he mentioned.

Se Horseng during his presentations to foreign students about Khmer culture. Kiripost/supplied
Se Horseng during his presentations to foreign students about Khmer culture. Kiripost/supplied

Horseng told Kiripost that there were a lot of processes involved to apply for the scholarship. Moreover, it was his first time being interviewed by foreigners and he recalled being a bit nervous at the time.

“I was nervous because it was my first time getting interviewed by a foreigner for the Master’s degree, but I just did my best. I think I had enough self-confidence, that is why I did well in the interview,” Horseng said.

He added that one step to another was challenging as there was a screening process with the South Korean Embassy, and also with the National Institute for International Education (NIIED). However, as he was told by seniors who passed the scholarship in the previous batch that if he is selected by the embassy then it is likely he will receive the scholarship.

“It was a very long process to get to know the final result. The first step is to pass the embassy screening process. After I knew I passed that scholarship, I was excited and nervous at the same time because we needed to wait for another screening process with NIIED, which is the scholarship provider from South Korea.

“So, from one step to another step was exciting, but the seniors from that scholarship told me that if I got selected from the embassy there’s a 70 percent chance that I will likely be going to Korea.”

Horseng advised students who are planning to apply for scholarships to have a good connection with seniors who have been previously awarded scholarships. In addition, they should be well prepared as they need to be clear on what scholarship program they will apply for as well as take a language test, especially English.

“You need to be well prepared, starting from getting to know seniors who already got that kind of scholarship. It's important to make connections and it’s always okay to get some help from them. I think it’s important, no matter how clever you are, there will always be some obstacles that you will meet in the applying process.

“Another problem is the English test and some other language tests. I think it’s important to get that test even though it’s not a requirement for the GKS in my batch but it would be good for you to have an English test.”

Horseng mentioned that the GKS has provided him with a lot of experiences as he has made a lot of foreign friends and engaged in many cultural exchanges. He added that he was proud to receive a high score in the Korean language test as it was everybody's dream, and he is happy that he is able to communicate with local people.

“It was everybody's dream to pass the high-level Korean language test. At that time, I passed that level. It was very high and it was a very proud moment in my life that I could make it. Now, I am able to speak Korean with local people. I did not expect that at this age when we study a new language we can use it properly,” he said.