umbrellala
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Long before I began my application to university, I did what I assume the majority of people my age do when they want to look into something, whether it be uni courses, a news story etc - I searched the internet for any information I could find. What I came across were countless vloggers from Cambridge and Oxford, people talking about their experiences with law, English, or medicine. But nothing about what I wanted to do.

So, I'm hoping to create this thread to help anyone applying for Korean or a similar subject that is struggling to find information about people's actual experiences rather than just abstract facts and figures. I intend to keep this thread updated with all the steps along the way, how long everything takes, and (perhaps most importantly) how I'm feeling about all of it. I really should have started this a while ago but I'll fill in everything that has happened so far.






For some background info:
- My name is Ella
- I'm applying for 2018 entry
- My A-Level subjects are Biology, Chemistry, Government & Politics, and EPQ
- I've applied to Sheffield, SOAS and UCLan

Hopefully this can be useful for someone!
Of course, feel free to ask me questions or pm me if you want to have a chat about anything I've mentioned.


Although this thread is quite old now, I will still be responding to any replies and answer PMs usually within 24hrs so I'll still happily give any help, advice, extra info etc. if you need it! Just let me know either on this thread of send me a PM



A full breakdown of my GCSE/A-Level subjects and grades can be found on my account page here, so please have a read of that before you ask me about language qualifications/grades needed for offers etc.



Contents
1. How did I decide I wanted to study Korean? (Post 2)
2. How did parents/teachers react? (Post 3)
3. AS/End of year exams (Post 6)
4. UCAS and Personal Statement (Post 16)
5. Choosing Universities (Post 37)
6. Waiting for Offers (Post 38)
7. Common Misconceptions about the Course (Post 51)
8. Mocks (Post 66)
9. Updates (Post 67)
10. I want to study Korean. What now? (Post 68)
11. Applicant Days and Picking a Firm/Insurance (Post 72)
12. My EPQ Topic (Post 75)
13. Updates (Post 76)
14. Results Day and EPQ Resources (Post 79)
15. First year (Post 86)
16. Personal Statement Example (Post 90)
17. Year Abroad (New Thread)



FAQ
- Why didn't you take Korean as part of a dual honours course? (Post 8)
- What are your post-uni plans? (Post 11)
- Why didn't you just take Korean modules within another degree or self-teach? Part 1 (Post 19) Part 2 (Post 26)
- What can you do with a Korean degree? (Post 51, #4)
Last edited by umbrellala; 4 months ago
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umbrellala
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How did I decide I wanted to study Korean?
For as long as I can remember, I either wanted to be a teacher, a doctor, or a vet. Once I was about 10yrs old I was set on being a vet, and this continued right until the start of 2017. Honestly, I think I already subconsciously knew that I didn't want to be a vet anymore, but I was too scared to admit it because it would open up a whole new can of worms - I would have nothing to work towards, no sense of direction, and I would have to come up with something else that I wanted to. And, god forbid, I ended up doing a course which didn't have a very clear career path set out in front of me.

But, around March 2017 I properly thought about it and, after several weeks of being extremely stressed and fretting about my decision, I decided that I couldn't make the sacrifices required to get into vet school, and I didn't want to put an excessive amount of pressure on myself to get AAA/A*AA plus almost 2 months of work experience since my mental health wasn't brilliant at the time. So then what? I basically had a huge identity crisis and had to work out what on earth I was going to do instead.

This is where studying Korean comes in. A few years ago, my dad got a job offer from Samsung (which is based in Seoul) and we were close to moving there for his job. We didn't end up moving, but I did do quite extensive research at the time and was fortunate/unfortunate enough to fall into the wonderful trap that is Korean dramas, music, language etc. That lasted for a few months, and I kind of forgot about it until the end of last year when Park Geun-hye was impeached. Since I have an interest in politics, I got really into following the impeachment and the presidential campaign at the start of this year. On top of this, my younger sister managed to become obsessed with K-Pop. When you're reading about Korean politics and being inundated with bubbly pop in a (kind of beautiful) language you can't understand on a daily basis, it was almost inevitable that I would end up taking it further. Initially, I searched for Korean uni courses as a joke with my sister. But... here I am.
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umbrellala
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How did teachers/parents respond to my change of heart?
I'm not going to sugar-coat it, this was the hardest part about my application without a doubt. I know there are definitely going to be people out there who read this and think I was being ridiculous or weak or whatever else but this is just how I felt at the time, and still feel to an extent now. And for those applying for/doing more obscure degrees, you can probably relate to this.

People's first reaction when I told them I wanted to do Korean was terrible. It was disheartening, disappointing, and in some cases just straight-up humiliating. The amount of disgusting things people said openly to me about Korea was shocking - things I'm sure they would never dream about saying if it was a different culture we were talking about. My parents, at first, took it as a joke. They didn't take me seriously in the slightest, and neither did the majority of my friends. I was talking about it to one of my friends in a lesson, who was nodding along politely, when my other friend turned to me and said 'But you're not actually going to do Korean are you?'. That hurt, not going to lie. But, after a few months, I put my foot down and stopped letting people treat it as a 'phase' or a joke, and soon people started to come round to the idea. My dad took the longest to 'give in', although once he'd visited unis with me and seen the courses, he was sold on it.

As for teachers, their response was not the most encouraging, but it was what I was expecting. Every time I have to tell another teacher what I'm planning to do, I dread it and suddenly get nervous. Their initial response is just shock. I usually have to repeat myself and then comes the 'why?', in a tone that sounds like they really mean 'you're a clever student, why are you wasting your time with a random Asian language'. But, surprisingly, the vast majority of my teachers are now excited for me and my future, and probably the most supportive out of everyone (apart from my parents and a select few friends).

But, the most interesting group of all is people I don't really know that well. I've had several people come up to me at school and ask me about it, with a genuine interest rather than just poking fun. Outside of school, people are intrigued and want to know more about it which is lovely!

Overall, the hardest thing about all of this was that I had a period of a good 4-5 months where my own parents and friends weren't supporting my decision, and I was essentially alone in my choices. I wasn't even 100% sure I was making the right decision at the time, so when you have so many people you trust and respect telling you you're doing it wrong, it's hard to stick to your guns and ignore them until they change their mind. If you're in this position, I promise it's worth waiting it out and doing what your heart really wants. I'm more excited about my life now than I have been in a long while!
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Snufkin
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umbrellala Interesting, thanks so much for sharing! I'm sorry your friends weren't more supportive, but you will have the last laugh! A BA in Korean will stand out on your CV and give you something interesting to talk about in interviews, which can make all the difference!

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umbrellala
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(Original post by Snufkin)
umbrellala Interesting, thanks so much for sharing! I'm sorry your friends weren't more supportive, but you will have the last laugh! A BA in Korean will stand out on your CV and give you something interesting to talk about in interviews, which can make all the difference!

Thank-you! Hopefully it will pay off in the end, but even if it doesn't I've learned some important lessons along the way :^_^:
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umbrellala
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AS Exams
At the end of year 12, I had my AS exams (or 'threshold' exams as they're known in my school, since they aren't official AS exams due to the reforms, and there is a grade threshold which determines whether or not you can continue in sixth form). I'm only taking one unreformed A-Level - Government & Politics - so I only had two official AS exams. The rest were set by the school. At Easter, when I was meant to be getting into proper revision, I wasn't set on what I wanted to do yet so I was majorly lacking in motivation to revise and try properly. This was issue number one. Issue number two was that I completely underestimated how much there was to revise and how complex it was, and also had planned to rely on the less than thorough revision I had done for mocks earlier that year.

As you can imagine, they didn't go too well. The worst thing about this, however, was that by about a week before my exams started, I had made my mind up and knew for certain that I wanted to do Korean, which meant that I now had entry requirements to meet. But it was too late to increase my revision or make any kind of a difference to what my final grade would be. I knew I needed ABB to have a good chance with Sheffield and SOAS (the two I wanted to go to) or BBB for UCLan (which is a back-up option if I don't want to take a gap year instead). I was confident with Gov & Pol going well, but the two sciences were anyone's guess.

When I opened the biology paper, I almost cried. I'm not an emotional person at all, and I've never had this experience with exams before, but I was so overwhelmed by the pressure and knowing that I really hadn't revised enough that I thought I couldn't do it. Chemistry was okay, but Gov & Pol had some truly horrific questions in it.

My results were A for Gov & Pol (I got 92% in one of the papers which I was absolutely chuffed with! And 86% in the other) which was relief to say the least. I got a B in Biology, a result I was very surprised with. I was expecting a C or below. In Chemistry, I got a C, and I was pretty disappointed with that. I guess the practical maths-y stuff let me down. But, I had scraped by, and I had my predicted grades of AAB thank god! Now I just had to start thinking about my personal statement and actual application...
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Dandelionfluff
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I think with a degree it is always best to take a language as a dual honours - unless you already have a good foundation of the language already. This is because you will not become fluent by the end of your course and spending just one year in the country (which is what most language courses call for) just isn't enough to make you stand out in terms of linguistic skills.

I'm wanting to do a language with my degree and I have a fairly decent foundation of korean, unfortunately, not many universities offer a wide a variety. Therefore I am actually applying for marketing courses at universities that offer the chance to study abroad and I plan on taking Korean classes separately to my degree. In my year abroad I can opt for Korea and work on my linguistic skills whilst I am there.

You can still take the TOPIK exam externally and put that on your CV. Which is what I want to do
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umbrellala
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(Original post by Dandelionfluff)
I think with a degree it is always best to take a language as a dual honours -
I’ve already applied so it’s a bit late for that haha but I was originally planning on doing Politics with Korean, however SOAS is the only uni that offers that so it wasn’t really a viable option. I could’ve taken language courses at uni alongside another course, but very few unis offer korean in this way. As for fluency, the Korean (and Japanese) courses are notoriously intensive - SOAS tells K/J students that the workload is approximately 60hrs a week which is much more than most European languages (or degree programmes in general). Also, the majority of korean graduates pass the highest level of TOPIK if they decide to take it, so it seems that the standard of language is relatively high. And, to be honest, the language was only 50% of the reason as to why I chose it - the range of modules you can take and the subjects they include were what particularly drew me into the course, so all in all it seemed the best option for me.

Good luck with your future plans!
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Dandelionfluff
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(Original post by umbrellala)
I’ve already applied so it’s a bit late for that haha but I was originally planning on doing Politics with Korean, however SOAS is the only uni that offers that so it wasn’t really a viable option. I could’ve taken language courses at uni alongside another course, but very few unis offer korean in this way. As for fluency, the Korean (and Japanese) courses are notoriously intensive - SOAS tells K/J students that the workload is approximately 60hrs a week which is much more than most European languages (or degree programmes in general). Also, the majority of korean graduates pass the highest level of TOPIK if they decide to take it, so it seems that the standard of language is relatively high. And, to be honest, the language was only 50% of the reason as to why I chose it - the range of modules you can take and the subjects they include were what particularly drew me into the course, so all in all it seemed the best option for me.

Good luck with your future plans!
good luck to you too. Which Uni is your first choice then? Also, where can the degree take you? What do you see yourself going into with the degree?
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inameni
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(Original post by umbrellala)
How did I decide I wanted to study Korean?
For as long as I can remember, I either wanted to be a teacher, a doctor, or a vet. Once I was about 10yrs old I was set on being a vet, and this continued right until the start of 2017. Honestly, I think I already subconsciously knew that I didn't want to be a vet anymore, but I was too scared to admit it because it would open up a whole new can of worms - I would have nothing to work towards, no sense of direction, and I would have to come up with something else that I wanted to. And, god forbid, I ended up doing a course which didn't have a very clear career path set out in front of me.

But, around March 2017 I properly thought about it and, after several weeks of being extremely stressed and fretting about my decision (I lost 5kg during this time just from worrying lol), I decided that I couldn't make the sacrifices required to get into vet school, and I didn't want to put an excessive amount of pressure on myself to get AAA/A*AA plus almost 2 months of work experience since my mental health wasn't brilliant at the time. So then what? I basically had a huge identity crisis and had to work out what on earth I was going to do instead.

This is where studying Korean comes in. A few years ago, my dad got a job offer from Samsung (which is based in Seoul) and we were close to moving there for his job. We didn't end up moving, but I did do quite extensive research at the time and was fortunate/unfortunate enough to fall into the wonderful trap that is Korean dramas, music, language etc. That lasted for a few months, and I kind of forgot about it until the end of last year when Park Geun-hye was impeached. Since I have an interest in politics, I got really into following the impeachment and the presidential campaign at the start of this year. On top of this, my younger sister managed to become obsessed with K-Pop. When you're reading about Korean politics and being inundated with bubbly pop in a (kind of beautiful) language you can't understand on a daily basis, it was kind of inevitable that I would end up taking it further. Initially, I searched for Korean uni courses as a joke with my sister. But... here I am.
Honestly cannot relate to this more, I also wanted to be a vet and was encouraged to looked into good paying jobs. I knew I didn't want to do this but told myself that I did because everyone else expected me to become a vet! I'm glad you found what you wanted to do! I'm actually applying for Korean studies too!
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umbrellala
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(Original post by Dandelionfluff)
good luck to you too. Which Uni is your first choice then? Also, where can the degree take you? What do you see yourself going into with the degree?
SOAS is my first choice uni, but Sheffield is a close second.
As for what I do with my degree, it really depends on which parts of it I enjoy most. I know I'd like to do something postgrad, so if I enjoy the translating then maybe an MA in Translation and Interpretation. If I like the history and politics side, then perhaps an MA in Korean Studies. And beyond that... well I haven't really thought that far to be honest! Straight out of uni I quite like the idea of teaching English in Korea, then either going into interpreting or international relations/something politics based.
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umbrellala
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(Original post by inameni)
Honestly cannot relate to this more, I also wanted to be a vet and was encouraged to looked into good paying jobs. I knew I didn't want to do this but told myself that I did because everyone else expected me to become a vet! I'm glad you found what you wanted to do! I'm actually applying for Korean studies too!
If you're academic and like animals it seems that everyone suddenly becomes a careers adviser and thinks you should be a vet haha but it's not for everyone for sure. It seems a lot of ex-med/vet people move into Japanese or Japanese with Korean for some reason, but you're the first person I've found that's ex-med doing straight Korean! Are you applying this year?
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inameni
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(Original post by umbrellala)
If you're academic and like animals it seems that everyone suddenly becomes a careers adviser and thinks you should be a vet haha but it's not for everyone for sure. It seems a lot of ex-med/vet people move into Japanese or Japanese with Korean for some reason, but you're the first person I've found that's ex-med doing straight Korean! Are you applying this year?
Yes I think I'm at the same point as you, year 13 right? Wow I didn't know people in that profession turned to languages. That actually makes me feel better about my choices ! Where do you want to apply?
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Chichaldo
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There was a lot to read but what additional things do you learn compared day doing another subject and having Korean modules or becoming fluent independently from your course?
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alexc00
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(Original post by umbrellala)
If you're academic and like animals it seems that everyone suddenly becomes a careers adviser and thinks you should be a vet haha but it's not for everyone for sure. It seems a lot of ex-med/vet people move into Japanese or Japanese with Korean for some reason, but you're the first person I've found that's ex-med doing straight Korean! Are you applying this year?
This is so weird but I was pressured into pursuing vet med for the same reasons and I’ve turned to languages instead! Only difference is I’m doing French and Russian but it’s near enough :P
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umbrellala
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UCAS and Personal Statement
It soon came time to write the dreaded personal statement. Our school got us started on filling in our UCAS and writing our first drafts a few weeks before the end of the summer term, but still I was not completely convinced that Korean was for me. This wasn't helped by my form tutor trying to convince me to either do International Relations or take a gap year to 'find myself'. I quickly learned to ignore the majority of her advice and talk to teachers who actually knew me properly, and knew what they were talking about. It was through the process of trying to write a personal statement for IR that I realised I had little to no passion for it, whereas writing for Korean was a breeze in comparison.

Writing a statement for a subject you've never studied before is both a blessing and a curse. A curse in that you have to work especially hard to prove that you know what the subject is about, you have a passion for all areas of the subject, and that you are capable of studying it as well as sticking with it rather than changing your mind after a year. They need to know you won't be a waste of their time or resources. A blessing because it's a lot easier to write something original and personal that truly comes from the heart and will stand out from other people, rather than just saying 'in Biology lessons I enjoyed learning about the lungs'. Anybody could say that. By having to show your interest and commitment, your character count gets filled pretty quickly and you end up not having the space to babble or talk about irrelevant extra-curriculars, making your statement overall look a lot stronger than it probably is. At the same time, everyone's statements will be original and different from each other, but it's a good opportunity to really show off your knowledge of the subject without having to fall back on 'I studied it at A-Level and got X grade' as a way to prove you like it.

I will post my full personal statement on this thread once I start university so that any sneaky copy and paste-rs will be caught by their plagiarism software (and so I won't be accidentally caught out instead). But, this was the general outline of my statement:
Paragraph 1 - How I became interested in Korea
Paragraph 2 - Why I'm interested in languages in general, and Korean specifically
Paragraph 3 - Why I'm interested in Korean culture (I basically talked about politics and what doing my research for EPQ allowed me to learn about Korea and East Asia as a whole)
Paragraph 4 - How my A-Level subjects and academic achievements will help me in the degree
Paragraph 5 - Conclusion and ending
If you need any more in-depth help with your statement, I'd be happy to help over private message.


My application was received by UCAS on the 17th October 2017. I was expecting to feel nervous, but actually it was a massive relief. Now I just had to start waiting for responses!
Last edited by umbrellala; 9 months ago
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mariejuana
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I RELATE SO MUCH. I'm in year 12 doing bio, chem, physics and maths. I want to do medicine. I have work experience in medicine and am planning to do volunteering in medicine as well. However after not doing any foreign languages since GCSE; I realised that I really really really want to learn a language. I am currently learning Korean as a hobby and my German from GCSE is still quite good. I'm debating whether to do languages or medicine. Medicine is going to be an easier option for me because I'm taking the right a-levels and it's more likely to get me a career. I will probably end up going down that route, but it saddens me that I didn't take a language.
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umbrellala
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(Original post by inameni)
Yes I think I'm at the same point as you, year 13 right? Wow I didn't know people in that profession turned to languages. That actually makes me feel better about my choices ! Where do you want to apply?
Yep I'm in year 13. A lot of the languages threads seem to be full of people who were originally intending to do medical things! I've already applied to SOAS, Sheffield, and UCLan (literally all the options available). How about you?
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umbrellala
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(Original post by Chichaldo)
There was a lot to read
I made it quite detailed since it's intended for people that are really interested in the process, but sorry if it's a bit boring haha

(Original post by Chichaldo)
but what additional things do you learn compared day doing another subject and having Korean modules or becoming fluent independently from your course?
Honestly I'm not really sure. It's hard to tell without having people who have done each of those options to compare, but I'd probably say if you're comparing additional modules to the full-blown degree, you'll have a much higher fluency from the degree. Comparing learning independently to a degree, if you reach the same level of fluency then the only real difference would probably be your understanding of the customs and culture. And perhaps the standard of pronunciation.
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umbrellala
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(Original post by alexseb31)
This is so weird but I was pressured into pursuing vet med for the same reasons and I’ve turned to languages instead! Only difference is I’m doing French and Russian but it’s near enough :P
It's so frustrating! Honestly I think medical degrees are massively romanticised when they're ridiculously hard and you need to sacrifice a lot, even more so once you've graduated. People who manage to graduate deserve to be millionaires haha. Good luck with your course, it sounds really interesting
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