I’m fortunate enough to be granted a professor-funded scholarship to pursue my further studies in Korea, so I just want to share my experiences with the readers what it feels like to study abroad under this scholarship. I can’t guarantee that what I am sharing would be applicable in general for all master students in Korea because it’s just based on my own experience.
I still remember that September 1st, 2013 was the day when I reached Korea. I touched down at Incheon International Airport together with a friend, who also was selected to be enrolled in Kumoh National Institute of Technology, to pursue our further education. I was so happy to be chosen as one of the recipients of the scholarship. Luckily, I came when the fall season just started so the temperature in both Indonesia and Korea were almost similar. In terms of season, as an Indonesian, I can safely say that fall semester intake is much better compared to spring intake as that is when the temperature can dip below zero when the students just arrive in Korea. The weather wasn’t the only thing that required adaption for me, food was another challenge need to be overcome. I was lucky that I had an Indonesian fellow who guided me through my adaptation. He slowly familiarized me to the strange but delectable Korean cuisine. Since then, I’ve enjoyed traveling around Korea, discovering different culture, indulging in the street food, visiting various tourism spots and landmarks and by doing so, enjoying the four seasons. I am particularly fond of fall and spring season (in my opinion winter is only good in movies and for real life it can be very cold and windy, in summer the weather is too dry in the area that I am staying).
Nonetheless, my journey began in the school I am enrolled in. Unlike undergraduate schools, where in most cases the lecturers provided the coursework materials and the students just had to study based on that, in my early days at graduate school, I was quite surprised to learn that professor just highlighted the topics which would be covered. I needed to independently research on topics which I turned out to be interested in and had to present these findings to other students enrolling in the same module. I understood the passive method won’t work well for me; it meant that I had to adjust my studying technique so that I can maximize my learning experience in the new school.
I would never had imagined I would be able to experience these opportunities when I signed up for my further studies. Back then, I didn’t know what the real research look like, I just knew that it had to be quite similar to the final project I did during my undergraduate. For my initial step, I started to list the potential issue that I want to carry out. Later on, I tried to search the paper based on their keyword. The best part was my university already registered and subscribed to popular databases such as IEEE Xplore. In this case, it is easy for me to research on latest research papers. For example conference results or journal papers are always accessible as long as I am connected to the campus network. Moreover, I had to do the next part by studying through the paper which I selected before. To understand the paper wasn’t an easy thing to do and it was hard at the beginning especially because I wasn’t familiar with the terms used in article. However, reading several times and searching for other information in the internet and discussing with other students helped me a lot in improving my understanding of the articles.
I was granted the funding for my further studies through the professor grant. In this case, I am automatically enrolled as a member of the laboratory which is led by my supervisor. To support my research activity, I have my own desk which includes a computer, necessary to access information and to help me in generating my research papers. In general, I spend around 9 hours daily in lab which starts from 10 am and lasts to 7 pm. This may not apply to all laboratory as different laboratories have different timing arrangements. Usually, the arrangement will depend on under which professor the student is researching and which subject the student is pursuing. I also have regular meetings with my Professor and other laboratory fellow in which I have to present my research progress. Normally, I have to show my result in every two weeks. Working on research not the only thing I have to do, I also have to contribute to the projects the laboratory works on at the same time. In some cases, there are no direct relations between the project and my personal research however, there are also cases where the students do the project and research under the same topics.
It may seem like a lot of work to do however, somehow, there is always time for my personal interests. Occasionally, I play futsal or go to gym to rejuvenate my mind and body from the usual daily bustle. I also had opportunities to visit several place outside the Korea. I was fortunate to spend the summer 2014 in Istanbul and Kitakyushu, Fukuoka in Japan in spring 2015 to attend a conference due to my research findings. In these conferences, I was able to learn from other researchers, to enhance my knowledge, to meet with new acquaintances and most importantly, I could share my research results with other researchers.
I hope that I briefly highlight some aspects of the life as a the master student under the professor funding. If you are a person who is truly passionate, likes to discover the new things, and wants to produce high quality researches, you should definitely go to graduate school. Good luck!
P.S: In my prior Indonesia Mengglobal article, I shared the story about how I got funding for my education in Korea through the laboratory scholarship. If you are interested in finding out more about the scholarship, please visit this link. For general information, there are several types of scholarship available for students in South Korea. There are government, University-based, corporate sponsored, and Laboratory/Professor sponsored scholarships. PERPIKA (The Indonesian Student Association in South Korea) has already collected available scholarships information for undergraduate, master degree and PhD students. They also have an article about how to contact the prospective supervisor, you can find easily in their website.