I graduated from Kazakh-Turkish high school in Astana, Kazakhstan on June 19, 2010 with the highest level of high school certificate named ‘Gold Medal.’ After graduating, I spent the rest of the summer sending applications to different universities, as well as doing universities’ application examinations. The exams were difficult, but the most difficult and important exam that I did was the exam for the presidential scholarship known as ‘Bolashak.’
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After making numerous applications and sitting different exams, I was luck to be accepted to the Nazarbayev University (NU). However, towards the end of September, I received my status as one of the recipients of ‘Bolashak.’ By the time I received my presidential scholarship status, the academic year of the Nazarbayev University had not yet began. Therefore, I did not join the university. Apart from financial aid and an opportunity study in some of the best universities in the United States, the presidetial scholarship provides an opportunity to improve one’s language. For this reason, when I got the scholarship, I started preparing myself to attend a language school in order to improve my English during the 2011 spring semester. However, due to some family problems, I was not able to attend the spring semester. Luckily, in June 2011, I started my education at the Intensive English Institute, at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
During the period between November 2010 and June 2011, I engaged myself in a number of voluntary activities in my country. My engagement in voluntary activities was in bid to improve my English language skills, through interaction with different people from different English speaking countries. One of my volunteer activities was at the seventh Asian Winter Games, which partly took place in my home city, Astana, between January and February 2011. This engagement gave me an opportunity not only to improve my English, but also to learn about other cultures through introducing touurists to Kazakh. In addition, in December 2010, I had volunteered in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), where my key responsibilities were to meet international journalists and guide them during the summit.
During the period between March and May 2011, I attended British Council Language Center, where I learnt more about the English language. In addition, back at home, I have been helping my father, who is a farmer at Kazakhstan. This has also allowed me to learn more about my major. Moreover, during the English program, I had a chance to volunteer in a humanitarian nature event ‘Habitat for Humanity,’ where we built houses for homeless and poor people. Recently, we, Kazakh students at UIUC, made a presentation about Kazakhstan, where I participated as the leader of the organization. Currently, we are planning a new event, in preparation for the 20th anniversary of the independence of Kazakhstan on December 16, 2011.