Friday, June 1, 2012

Study Abroad Interview Jitters and Relief

So around May 1st I finished the written application for study abroad. Every three or four days after that I would receive an e-mail "reminding" me to complete the interview portion. It was a little bit annoying, especially since I couldn't schedule an appointment until I received an e-mail from the study abroad office. The computerized system never seemed to catch onto the memo even after I was able to schedule the appointment.

Anyways, the messages finally stopped on May 21st and I'd long since had my appointment scheduled by then. But there wasn't much to do waiting around for my interview other than twiddle my thumbs and wait. So I waited, and waited and finally on May 29th I kicked into interview mode. I talked with some friends who had already completed their interviews, reviewed my application and Japan Women's University's information. I also asked my professors for some advice and they all pretty much said the same thing.
  1. Be yourself - They're sending you to Japan after all, they want to get to know you and if you can make it in abroad. Being fake will only hurt you in the long run.
  2. Think about your goals and why you want to study in Japan? Don't just say you want to travel! What do you want to do with your Japanese language abilities, how will studying abroad help you with your goals?
  3. Think about why you want to go to that school. Is it something about their curriculum, location or even just cost? Know the facts, don't go into your interview blind!
The day arrived, I was nervous from the moment I woke up though I really didn't need to be. I put on all my nice clothes and did my makeup (unusual for me). The butterflies were out in full force and I could hardly focus on class, racing to my interview as soon as it was over.

After checking in at the international affairs office I waited nervously. I knew it would be a solo interview, I'd asked about it in advance. So instead of competing for attention, trying to make myself stand out like my friends had had to do, I knew it would be very much focused on me and what I am like as a person. My interviewer, a very nice lady by the name of Shun, retrieved me and told me not to worry, that we were just going to have a nice chat.

Other than the fact it was mostly me dominating the conversation that is exactly what we did. She asked me about my academic and personal goals, why I wanted to attend JWU, what qualities make me a good candidate for the JWU exchange program and a good representative for the University of Oregon. She also asked about what got me interested in Japan (which if you've been following until now you know started with anime and Sailor Moon). Does my family approve of me studying abroad? What would I do in such and such type of situation?  What is the most important thing to do as an exchange student and a host student?

To be honest I can't remember a lot of the questions now because we talked about so many different things. The interview lasted for a little over and hour though and by the end of it I was very comfortable with her and openly expressing myself.

So, my advice for those of you getting ready to interview for study abroad would be (and I might update this later to include comments from my classmates):
  1. Be yourself. I completely agree with my senseis (or teachers). They want to get to know you and if you'll be happy during your study abroad experience. They don't want you to be miserable the whole time you're abroad and I hope you don't either! 
  2. Relax! I know that being a worry wort can get you through all that final cramming and make you stay up an hour later to earn that extra 5%. This is not the time to be nervous. You don't want to stumble over your words and make yourself seem less than you really are!
  3. Breath! After you're asked a question take a breath. Think about your answer for a moment and then respond. I'm guilty of this. I rushed into too many questions without thinking and wound up repeating myself or forgetting the original question entirely.
  4. Prepare. Look into your study abroad program if you haven't already. What kind of courses are offered? Where will you be staying? What do you like about the program? Why that one in specific? It's okay to say one of the reasons you chose it was price! Not everyone is rich!
  5. Think. Think about everything. Think about the challenges you are going to encounter. How you will overcome them. Think about situations you might be forced into such as loud and noisy neighbors or roommates and how you will deal with them. Think about what you want to do, now and in the future. 
  6. Be confident. Go in there knowing that this is what you want to do and be confident in yourself and your ability to make your goals a reality!
That's it for now! Good night! And more pictures next time. I promise.

Update: As always, if you have questions or I wasn't clear, please e-mail me or leave a comment and I will address it in an upcoming post!

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