How I Met My Supervisor (HIMMS): Part 1

It won’t be about the so-called TV show of How I Met Your Mother (because I do not watch that). It is just because I heard the title so many times it becomes familiar. I will try to elaborate the story behind the first meeting between me and my Supervisor and how I could get him as my supervisor.

I chose Embassy Track so I did not have the urge to contact supervisor during the application period.

Yes, as we already know, we have two tracks of application in KGSP scholarship. The first one is Embassy track in which your application will go through Korean Embassy in your country first before it will be sent to 3 universities you choose. And the second one is via University track, in which you need to send your application directly to one university and make a contact yourself with the professor there.

I chose the embassy track because I did not have enough time to contact the professor and sent the documents overseas, to put that simply. But actually, not only for that reasons, in Embassy track you are allowed to choose up to 3 universities and I thought it might get me bigger chance to get in 😂

When you choose the University, do not judge based on the university rank only; topic is the most important thing as the decision point

But after I got accepted, the real problem just came. I haven’t gotten my supervisor or laboratory yet… And that was a big deal for me, as I will be working in a laboratory.

When I chose 3 universities I want to apply, I carelessly just chose based on the rank of the Materials Science Engineering (MSE) Department, not from the topics that I want to conduct during Master degree. Well, if I am allowed to make an excuse, at that time I haven’t gotten anything that catches my attention that much, I just want to conduct research about nanomaterials and that’s all, so that was why I did not really care about the topic.

But you guys out there, please do not make the same mistake as me. Do research on something that you like or important to you. So before deciding which university you will continue your study, have a deep and broad research about each laboratory and their specialties, and contact them to make sure they will accept you with their hands open 😇

So… I contacted the MSE Department to ask about supervisor, and they said I need to get permission to join the laboratory by myself.

After I got accepted and flew to Korea, I thought it would be wise to get the supervisor as fast as I could. Therefore I tried to contact the MSE department and ask about whether I should choose my own laboratory or the department already decided for me. Because some of my friends actually got their laboratories decided by the department.

But it was not an easy task. I contacted the official email of my department several times, but they did not reply for months. I got anxious and then tried to contact the office of international affairs of the Engineering department, telling that I have contacted my department through the official email but did not get replied. And turned out that I need to contact the coordinator of my department instead of the official email. I never imagined that it would be different… 😭

Okay so after I emailed the MSE department coordinator, she said that I need to get the permission to join the laboratory by myself. So from this point forward, the real journey began.

(For me) getting replied by a professor is a rare chance. Perhaps the profs have received so many emails asking to get accepted in their lab that they actually become sick of it…

So… after knowing the fact that I need to look for my own supervisor, I tried to open all the laboratories websites that I was interested in. Because in my undergraduate study I did research about the nanomaterials for solar cell applications, I tried to look for the same topic.

I got this one laboratory that I wanted so badly but the professor did not reply me even after I emailed him several times for months. I finally realized that perhaps he does not have any interest in me and I need to give up on him only one month before my new semester begins.

I began to look for another laboratory and then emailed another professor just to get rejected because he had finished the recruitment of new student last week. note that, LAST WEEK. I felt I was about to cry that time. Why I just late one week

“Why of all things it was just a week ago?” I cried in disbelief and started to blame the profs who did not reply my email for months (sorry for dragging you too…).

But trying to see it in a positive way, I said to myself that perhaps he was not your fate and I should look for another prof. But as I was running out of time and by the fear of getting another rejection, I frantically emailed another 6 professors all at once, with the hope that at least someone will consider me to join his lab.

Out of 6 profs I emailed, 2 profs replied me. But not as easy as it might be, they required an interview and reference letters. Yeah, life will not be so easy, right? 😂

So while I was asking for my colleague and teacher about the reference letters, I was also preparing for the interview and began to reread my undergraduate thesis and presentation ppt. Because for the whole year I did not study about my major at all, I needed to read even the basic definition of this and that. I really hoped that he will just ask me about my hobby and not something related to my research 😂

It turned out that I got my supervisor already since last year… Can you believe that?

I would need to do the interview on 17th of August after I move to Seoul. But before that, my friend and I decided to visit the department to ask about the academic matters. It was such a hot day and also my first time to step foot in Seoul National University. The university is considered big but just does not seem so big because the main road is small compared to the main road at Chungnam National University.

So after we arrived at the Department, we tried to look for the coordinator whom we always speak to in English. But turned out that she was not in the office until the next week. So with out broken Korean, we tried to speak with the other administrator about stuff and we figured out that actually, the laboratory has already assigned to us since last year! Our expression at that time was: wait—WHAT?! 😱😱😱

The administrator calmly told us the professor must have contacted you since last year, perhaps that we missed their emails or something like that but we strongly believed that no notification came to us. So she then tried to call the profs and they were not in their office (it was holiday period after all).

So we went outside with indescribable feeling—happy, shocked, anxious, excited, etc. Good thing was that we did not need to look for the laboratory by our self. But the disadvantage was, we did not know what kind of research we will do in that laboratory.

To figure out what kind of research that each of our laboratory does, we checked the websites right away after calming our self down. Our friend lab was about ceramics or polymer if I am not mistaken. And mine is about the spin dynamics and spin wave devices—which I do not even know what it is about…


…will continue in Part 2.



1:48 AM, 14th of August 2017, End of Summer

Chungnam National University Dormitory Bld. 5





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  1. December 25, 2017

    Halo Kak Inna. Perkenalkan aku Icha. Kak, aku mau tanya.. Di atas Kak Inna nyebutin kalau kita daftar via universitas harus kontak salah satu professornya dulu ya selama masa pendaftaran. Kebetulan tahun ini aku coba daftar via universitas dan sayangnya gagal di tahap 2. Cuman karena kemarin lagi hectic sama skripsi, jadi aku bener2 gatau kalau daftar via uni harus kontak professornya dulu .-. Apa pengaruh banget ya Kak? Dan sepertinya juga study plan dan future plan aku kurang terstruktur gitu. Bisa kasih masukan ga Kak poin2 apa aja yang harus ada di introduction letter? Terus boleh ngga kasih contoh yg agak spesifik gimana bikin study plan yang linier dengan future plan? Makasih banyak Kak Inna. Sukses S2 nya 🙂

    • December 27, 2017

      halo, salam kenal juga. kalau dari pengalaman temen2 saya yg diterima university track, mereka kontak supervisor supaya tau bahwa mereka yg akan dipromote oleh univ itu untuk diajukan ke NIIED. Jadi, semisal yg daftar ke univ X itu ada 10 orang, kan ngga semuanya diterima utk diajukan beasiswa kan, nah itu kalo case nya temenku, mereka dikasih tau sm prof nya kalau mereka bakal diajuin. Tp emang sih, diterima oleh supervisor utk dipromote bukan berarti dpt beasiswanya, msh harus nunggu pengumuman juga dan bersaing sm jalur university lainnya.

      untuk letter of introduction, itu benar2 personal dan setiap orang pasti nulis sesuatu yg berbeda. jd sarannya mungkin, introduction letter pun harus bisa menjawab pertanyaan “why should I accept you?” 🙂

      study plan yg linear dg future plan maksudnya, semisal kamu ingin jadi astronot, jadi km harus bisa menjelaskan plan2 kamu secara terstruktur untk jadi astronot setelah km lulus. jd astronot itu kan banyak requirement nya ya, salah satunya maybe mentally and physically strong, jd di study plan km bs tulis gimana caranya spy km bs improve dua poin itu selama km belajar di Korea. belum lagi soal mata kuliah yg harus km pelajari supaya km bs diterima di NASA, itu juga penting jd km bs tulis mau ambil mata kuliah apa yg sesuai 🙂

      Mungkin itu yg bs aku jawab dr pertanyaan Icha, tp jangan batesin sm hal2 yg aku mention ya. Krn aku yakin km bs explore lebih tentang diri km sendiri, jadi application form km bakal lebih mencerminkan seperti apa diri kamu and it will definitely catch the reviewer attention 🙂

      • January 1, 2018

        Sebelumnya terima kasih ya Kak udah jawab panjang lebar :’ Huhu seneng deh…
        Jadi kita kontak professor itu hanya untuk memberitahu kalau kita yg bakal daftar jalur universitas gitu ya? Bukan untuk minta kesediaan jadi supervisor kan Kak?
        Untuk introduction letter, kita menjelaskan kenapa mereka harus memilih kita itu berarti konteksnya seperti kaya melamar kerja gitu ya Kak? Menyebutkan kelebihan kita, atau mungkin kepekaan diri terhadap masalah di sekitar? Soalnya di introduction yg kemarin aku buat, aku malah lebih nyeritain diriku, trus apa aja yg pernah aku capai seperti hal2 dasar lulus tepat waktu mungkin atau GPA, pernah terlibat dalam projek apa saja, apa boleh juga ya Kak? Trus mungkin aku kasih apa aja yg aku dapatkan entah skills atau pengalaman, dan mungkin bagaimana belajar di Korea itu bisa membantu aku untuk mencapai goal itu? Gimana ya Kak.. Minta pencerahannya ya Kak Inna 🙂
        Oh iyaa, Happy New Year 2018 Kak!

        • January 14, 2018

          Halo, itu ada 2 tipe. Teman saya ada yg kontak prof dan beliau yg jd supervisor. Tp ada juga lainnya yg supervisornya dipilihin oleh jurusan (bukan yg dikontak dulu pas daftar kgsp). Kalau ttg minta kesediaan sih saya kurang tahu, sepertinya tergantung policy dr major anda. Cuma sarannya, sekalian aja minta kesediaan jd supervisor hehe.

          Iya, lbh baik yg menjual juga introduction letternya. Scr umum sih emg penjelasan ttg siapa kita. Tp kalo ngga menjual dan ngga menjelaskan kenapa harus memilih kita, siapa yg bakal tertarik? 😁

          Kalau ttg itu, saran saya silakan minta tolong orang utk mereview application form kamu. Atau minimal minta pendapat mereka 🙂

          Semoga membantu!

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