Meet Rose Finley, currently living in South Korea and is a recipient of the super competitive Korean Government Scholarship Program. Read more to find out how she was able to get this amazing opportunity and what you can do to take advantage of similar opportunities.

BGLL: Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed and being open to sharing your story! Tell us about yourself.

Rose: My name is Rose Finley and I’m from Grand Rapids but am currently living in South Korea. I have a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a specialization in Christian Counseling from Liberty University. I speak English, Spanish, French and Arabic. I currently am learning Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and as a recipient of the Korean Government Scholarship Program, I’m also improving my Korean. After the program, I’ll pursue my master’s degree in Clinical Social Work specializing in mental health and mood disorders. My degree will be completely taught in Korean, so I am a bit nervous.

BGLL: What made you want to learn those languages? How did you learn them?

Rose: I started Spanish when I was in elementary school. I just really wanted to be friends with the new kids who spoke no English, so I got a dictionary and asked the ESL teacher when I got stuck. As I got older, I just turned my TV to the Spanish channel with Spanish subtitles and left it there. I eventually figured it out haha. By the time I got to University, I tested out of all the leveled Spanish classes and straight into Spanish Lit and Advanced Spanish Grammar. 

French, I took two years in high school. Picked up the rest of it from living in Canada, where I could practice speaking, reading and watching TV in French. I actually don’t care for French much, but when I was in Algeria, I was grateful because my Algerian or Arabic was not good enough to get around well.

My ex spoke Arabic, Algerian and French fluently, so he taught me Arabic and Algerian and I self-studied with Madinah Arabic series and TV shows, cartoons (Chugginton, Octonauts, Peep and the Big Wide World) 

Korean, I have been actively self-studying for almost 2 1/2 years now through textbooks, home immersion, social media, and help from other friends and bloggers. I got interested in Korean because of K-pop and Korean dramas, like a lot of people did. My interest grew more as I got interested in Korean culture and history, and after I completed my psychology internship in Korea, I just decided to go for it. 

I’ve been learning for Japanese for less than a year and I use textbooks written in Korean, with Mandarin. I use only the app Hello Chinese and courses for HSK (the Chinese proficiency exam) on Udemy. I want to travel to both these countries one day and I have an interest in their culture and history as well.


BGLL: What opportunities were you able to take advantage of because of your language skills?

Rose: I have used my language skills to volunteer with immigrant communities, take classes in subjects I’m interested in, and to help and motivate others through my studygram (study focused Instagram account).

I honestly think the coolest aspect of knowing other languages for me personally is being opened up to this whole world outside. I’ve learned so much about history, culture, and people in a way that I probably wouldn’t have been able to without language. As previously mentioned, I was able to complete a psychology internship in Korea and accepted into the Korean Government Scholarship Program.

BGLL: Tell us more about the Korean Government Scholarship Program. What is it? How did you find out about it? What was the application process like?

Rose: So, the Korean Government Scholarship Program started in the 1960's and was created by the Korean government Ministry of Education to bring over students who were some of the strongest in their countries to study in Korea. They have an Undergraduate and Graduate Scholarship. The scholarship provides 1 year of intensive Korean language and your degree program fully funded, as well as a stipend of around 900 dollars a month. I applied for the Graduate scholarship and this year they accepted 700 graduate students from over 160 countries around the world. There are 2 tracks: The Embassy track and the University track. They both have different processes for applying and being accepted. This year through embassy track they accepted 16 students and I applied University track where they only accepted 5 students. There were hundreds of applicants in America and it is extremely competitive because you must pass 2 or 3 rounds in order to be accepted. I think what helped me to secure this scholarship was my knowledge of Korean language from self-studying, my knowledge of my field in both America and South Korea, and how I expressed my will and dedication to not change the culture but to add my experience to it in a helpful way to benefit both foreigners and natives. I originally found out about the scholarship from a professor at a Korean university that I went to when I did my study abroad my senior year of undergrad.

BGLL: Do you still actively use the languages you know?

Rose: I was using Spanish mostly to communicate with customers at work or for entertainment. I watch a lot of Spanish TV and read books in Spanish from time to time. I lived in Canada and Algeria previously, so I used French and Arabic a lot more back in the day. Now I rarely use Arabic and French. I still read or watch shows, blogs in French, but I think my conversational skills are lacking. 

I use Korean every day in every aspect of my life as much as possible. I’ve even completed psychology courses in Korean. Japanese and Mandarin I’m still very new at and hope to use them for travel and making friends in the future 

BGLL: Which languages are your favorite and why?

Rose: Spanish and Korean hands down. Spanish just has been a part of my life for so long. I love everything about it, the culture and history of Spanish speaking countries is so rich and different in each respective country, I feel like I’m always learning. 

Korean is such a complex and beautiful language. It’s also a language of social justice. Written Korean language was created to give the people of Korea a language that they could read regardless of class. Back in the old day only those who were rich and higher up in society were literate. Spoken Korean was written in Chinese Characters called Hanja. In the 15th century King Sejong created Hangul so that everyone from rich to even poor slaves could read. Transforming the country as a whole. There is just so much to the [Korean] culture, language and country that I love. I could talk about it all day haha.

BGLL: What are some suggestions you think would be helpful when learning languages?

Rose: First, figure out your reason for learning the language and what you want your end goal to be. Once you have an end goal base your study methods and materials around that. Since I intended on going to graduate school in Korea, I started my studies focusing on reading and comprehension first. Now that I’ve gotten a bit ahead, I currently focus on listening and speaking a bit more. Next, I plan to focus on writing.

Second, never compare yourself. Although this is in reality hard to do, comparison can make you continually feel you aren’t good enough or “doing it wrong”, there is more than one way to do things, and it’s not a race. 

Finally, don’t let anyone, including yourself limit you. This is something I always stress on my studygram. You’re already great and amazing, nothing is impossible if you want it and are willing to work for it. So, believe in yourself and keep going. 

BGLL: How can we keep up with you on social media?

Rose: I’m on Instagram @thestudyingnightowl Currently and I plan to open an official blog in the future.

No comments