My NSLI-Y (Academic Year) Interview Experience

안녕하세요 여러분! In this blog post, I will be writing about my experience interviewing for the NSLI-Y Academic Year Program in South Korea. This interview was my third (and last) interview for NSLI-Y.

  • I interviewed with NSLI-Y, previously, during my freshman year of high school (January 2015) and during my sophomore year of high school (January 2016).

I have already written a blog post about my last two interview experiences as well as a post about tips and advice! I will link those here and here, respectively. I may do an updated blog post about tips in the near future; I feel that I can refine some of my tips and write more about what I have realized NSLI-Y is looking for. (Maybe when I have extra time this winter break?) But anyway, let’s get into my interview experience!~

NSLI-Y (Academic Year) Interview

Date: 01/13/18        Time: 12 pm (Noon)

I found out that I became a semi-finalist for NSLI-Y on the 1st of December at exactly 2:30 pm; however, I did not check my email until a little bit after 5:30 pm. I had speech practice until 5 pm and because of past NSLI-Y application timelines, I was already expecting the email in my inbox. (I could have checked my email at school… but in case it was going to turn out to be bad news, I refrained until I was back in my room–alone.) I actually got a really exciting college email before I opened my NSLI-Y notification, so when I saw “congratulations” at the top of the email, I started crying even louder! What was different this year in comparison to the previous times I have been interviewed was the location of the interview, the date of the interview as well as when I was informed about the details regarding my interview. So… basically, everything changed from the last two times!

Previously, many of the Greater Chicago area interviews were held at this one church; however, this year it was located at a high school. Also, the Greater Chicago area interviews were usually held on the first Sunday of the year– while this year it was the second Saturday of the month. (Which actually turned out to be better for me because this allowed me to still be present for the Alumni Representative Workshop which was during the first weekend of the year.) Additionally, I found out about the interview location and date on the 30th of December while in previous years, I found out around the middle of December.

int 6

This building of the school was very beautiful! ❤


What I wore to my interview: red sweater dress, black tights, and simple (short) black heels.

int 5

My interview was at noon, but I arrived at the school with my mother around 11: 15 am. We waited around in the parking lot for almost 20 minutes and then she dropped me off at the door. The “waiting room” and the interview rooms were up a flight of stairs and down a very long hallway with a couple of turns. Fortunately, there were lots of signs posted so it would have been very difficult to get lost. When I arrived early, there were three other applicants in the room. I was going to join in on this one small discussion but then I noticed a girl sitting in the back of the room with her mom. It was my friend Citlali from Startalk! We had studied Chinese together!~

int 4



Seeing her in the room made me so much more comfortable, and I was super excited that she had made semis! (Though, I was also really salty that she (and my other fellow classmate Bruce) did not tell me that they made it! He, unfortunately, had an earlier interview time, so I missed him at the high school.

Eventually, noon rolled around and my interviewer pulled me out of the room. She was the sweetest lady ever! She made me feel very comfortable, and she was such a good listener with a very friendly face. She was an AFS volunteer and had taken a gap year with AFS in Uruguay. Additionally, her daughter was currently on a gap year with AFS in Paraguay, and she had also participated in the NSLI-Y China Summer program.

The interview questions were very similar to my last interview (and when I mean similar, there were only 2 questions that were new/different). Therefore, I was never really caught off guard with too many questions. I was able to smoothly answer all the questions with ease (mostly because I prepared for them). I was also able to engage the interviewer in conversation, and she told me stories from her and her daughter’s gap year and answered all my questions about my possible gap year in South Korea.

I came out of the interview feeling very confident in all of my answers and what I had to say. I was proud of myself for being so calm during it and being able to think on my feet for all the interview questions.

One thing I wanted to mention was something that my interviewer told me before the interview which helped ease my nerves just a little bit. She told me that her position was to be an advocate for my application. She was not going to judge my experiences as there were no right or wrong answers. She was only there to pass on as much information about me to the evaluators to aid my application. So to anyone fretting about their interview, this is something important to know!!!!

And, that is all for this blog post!~ I hope you enjoyed reading it and to all the NSLI-Y applicants or semi-finalists out there, I hope this gave you some insight on the NSLI-Y interview process~ There are a lot of people that ask me what questions were given at the interview and I am sorry, but I do not think I can share that information. I wish everyone the best of luck on their interviews!! 화이팅! 친구들 다음에 봐요~~ ❤ 고마워요!

If I can, I will write an updated application blog post upload it next year when it becomes relevant once again~ I hope that my subscribers are enjoying reading what I am up on my gap year thus far (though I am about two months behind… I am sorry! Editing posts takes some time…)

  • Emma 엠마



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