There’s a time in your life that comes when you grow up and become the person your younger self dreamed of being.
Today, I grow and become that person.
Hi! I’m Hui (or Chloe), a second year visual communications and film student, achieving a dream I’ve had since middle school. I type this as I am on my 14-hour flight to South Korea.
This past week has been working eight days straight at my part-time job, full of friends and family seeing me off before I leave, packing and mentally preparing for what’s to come (and to be honest, it hasn’t hit me at all). I’m traveling during the time of COVID-19, and this past week’s biggest stressor was the ever-changing PCR test timeframe (from 72 hours to 48 hours before my flight). But here we are, one and a half movies in and a few broken naps later en route to Seoul.
To be honest, it takes a lot to prepare for studying abroad — which is why your advisors tell you to prepare at least a year in advance. Personally, it’s taken me two years to prepare, and though it takes a lot of planning and researching to plan such a trip, it isn’t impossible. So long as you manage your time well and keep a balance between your classes and preparation, you’re well on your way.
If I could give advice to those that want to study abroad but are either too scared to, not sure if they have the time to, discouraged about money or anything else of the same sort, just remember that it doesn’t hurt to try. Apply for national fellowships and dedicate good time to it. Start early, and remember that if you don’t win the scholarship you can always apply to the next cycle.
As for money, there are so many opportunities for students. Most programs will take your financial aid at UofSC, and national fellowships transfer the money to you directly.
I send my greatest thanks to Freeman-ASIA, because without winning that national fellowship, I wouldn’t have been able to go on this trip — but with funds from the fellowship, financial aid and scholarships from UofSC, I was able to have the program tuition almost fully funded.
Another thing I want to highlight is once you have decided which semester or year you’ll be going abroad, don’t overwhelm yourself too much in the semester prior to it. Yes, you can take six classes the semester before so that you can get by with four classes when abroad and have more time to walk around and explore, but keep in mind that along with those classes you are taking, you are also applying for numerous scholarships, filling out form after form, and constantly in contact with multiple advisors to ensure you’re all on the same page on your semester (or year) abroad. Speaking from personal experience, I took six classes the semester prior and it was not the best for my mental health as the stresses kept piling (and I am still taking five classes abroad). Lots (and I mean lots) of things are bound to change in the semester prior, so it’s best to stay as balanced as possible — I was originally supposed to go to Japan first before Korea!
It’s important to note that this is the time that others (scholarships, fellowships) will be paying you to go abroad. If the only thing holding you back is yourself, I’d like to assure you that there will be so many people around you supporting you and helping you in ways that they can — and if not anyone else, I will. I’m rooting for you!
If you have any questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or my instagram, @8huei!
Wishing you safe travels and happy planning from 40,008 feet in the air,
P.S. Korean Air has the best airplane food ~