Agnes Sagina has won the Critical Language Scholarship for a study abroad in Japan this summer! サギナさん、おめでとうございます！
サギナさん tells us about the CLS and her experiences thus far:
"CLS is the Critical Language Scholarship program and it is open for basically anyone to apply as long as they are a college student or they plan on doing the program the summer right after they graduate. There are two programs open; the intermediate (2 years of study) and advanced classes (3 years of study). The location varies year by year, but for Summer 2016 the session will be taking place in Hikone, Japan. The biggest perk obviously is that it is all completely paid for! The program is funded by the Dept of State and the expenses cover travel, visa fees, transportation to get to DC for the orientation and a monthly stipend (not sure how much and it's for food I believe). You stay with a homestay family and it is an intensive learning program. There is roughly 4-6 hours of schooling 5 times a week with about 3 hours of homework given, weekend cultural excursions and no English speaking is allowed. It is a program seeking diversity but more so they are looking for a commitment to continue learning the language. A pre- and post-interview is given to assess your starting and ending level. The application is kind of time consuming but that's mostly due to the essays. The essays are short with roughly 300 words max but they ask a variety of questions from how you handle being in a new environment and interacting with new people, to what you can contribute to the class group. It is highly competitive and all areas of your application need to be strong, especially reference letters. It is good to get a letter from someone who will write an absolutely glowing review of you.
Obviously I have yet to complete the program but I am really excited about it. It is a great opportunity, especially since I can study abroad without having to front the cost. I really do believe my speaking skills are going to improve. It is a great program and I really encourage everyone and anyone to apply and apply again. Like I said, they accept you even the summer after you graduate. And if you do get accepted, you're even eligible to apply the next year to complete the next level. I look forward to writing a post review, but applying is free so you really have nothing to lose and if selected, a whole bunch to gain!
A great video to watch is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYUY8m2L-3I&feature=youtu.be
I hope this helps!"