i'm another senior applying to UW, and it's probably a little late since I'm trying to turn in my application (online) later tonight..
but if any of you have spare time to read over my personal statement that would be great.. Writing is definitely not a skill I really posses or feel comfortable with (and add the fact that becaus eof exchange I havent had an english class since first semester sophomore year), so feel free to rip it apart.. (only in a kind way please!)
My most character defining moment is without a doubt my junior year that I spent abroad experiencing the Netherlands and Dutch culture. I learned more than I ever even knew existed about myself and came to see that I still have much to learn. There are countless moments and situations I experienced throughout my year that each symbolize something I learned and each one is just another piece of the huge puzzle. It is a puzzle that displays the picture of who I am. My year abroad has shown me just how big this puzzle is and just how much work there is yet to do on it. It is one of those projects your never sure will really finish, but you continue for the thrill you get when those pieces slide into place, form fitted to perfection.
It would be a waste of effort to try and explain every piece that slid into place during my time abroad and the time since I’ve returned, however there are some pieces that have filled in larger gaps. The first of these gaps, though I didn’t know it was a gap at the time, was my appreciation. Not only did I learn to appreciate the things I should, I learned to recognize my values a lot more. I never realized how truly great the people in my life were until the contact was reduced to an occasional email or letter. I never realized how much I valued the comfort level I had at home or the way my family and friends and I have all slowly adapted to mesh with each other. I never realized how beautiful my home was and how much hills on the horizon mean and symbolize home to me. I never realized what an amazing gift personal expression through language and conversation is. After this I could not be more firm in my belief in the statement "Absence makes the heart grow fonder." It’s true I never recognized these until they were gone, but at the same time recognizing this abroad has helped me be more aware in my daily life and pick things out that make me happy and be sure to enjoy them while they last. Every time I stepped onto a train in the Netherlands I thought to myself how much I would miss my train rides when I returned to the U.S. It is true that I miss them immensely, but at the same time it is comforting to know that I enjoyed every second of them while I was there and savored the freedom and peace they brought to me.
Another piece of the puzzle that I can see has helped me has to do with responsibility and never underestimating what I can accomplish. I’ve learned that I truly do hold my life in my hands and it is up to me to shape it the way I want. I have vivid memory of stepping off a train into the hug of a friend of mine at a small station in the middle of Denmark. I had just traveled across several countries including several train transfers, alone, where I did not speak the language and made it to my intended destination, on time and in one piece. The sense of empowerment was almost overwhelming. The personal satisfaction that I planned the entire trip myself and got it done was proof that when given the chance, I can make the best of a situation and pursue what I wish to pursue. The same sense only even more empowering was when I finally fell into step with the language. The Dutch will tell you it’s the third hardest language to learn. I am not sure if I would go so far as that, but it definitely presented a frustrating problem for me. I struggled and struggled for months until one day in January I was sitting in my culture and arts class when to my surprise I realized that I understood everything the teacher was saying. That was the most incredible feeling ever. Suddenly all the struggles and frustrations from the previous months dissolved and seemed worthwhile and I came to rest on cloud nine. English, instead of Dutch became the language I did not want to hear. To be sure, my year as a whole is the ultimate display of what I can accomplish if I set my mind to it. Through all the problems I encountered I was always able to find a solution that worked for me. In turn for the effort I put in I was able to enjoy one, if not the best year of my life so far. It was a priceless experience and when asked if it was worth it and would I do it again my response is always consistent. In a heartbeat.