the Japanese experience
'Life begins at the end of your comfort zone has truly reflected my past student exchange experience in Japan when I was 18. For the past 18 years of my life, I was stayed in my comfort zone, well-protected by my parents, surrounded by all of my friends who have stayed with me since kindergarten. Applying to join the student exchange program would be the first step of me stepping out of the comfort zone as I was the only one in my school that decided to give it a shot and fortunately I got a place for it. Throughout this application process, I had passed through multiple times of interviews and participated in rounds of orientation camps. It was the very first time where it was only me, without my parents and friends, staying for nights in an environment full of strangers. It was difficult for me initially to start communicating with other people, especially when I see them coming in groups. The first step is often the hardest, for after that we have forward momentum. Stepping out the first step had made me gifted with a bunch of close friends. Although we are now in different places, different universities, we still get in touch and still close as those orientation days were just yesterday.
My life in Japan had greatly influenced me mentally or physically, for me changing from an introvert to an extrovert, from lazy to discipline and from proud to humble. There were only 5 people from Malaysia that went to Japan with me and we were all separated in a different state, with me alone in Osaka. I was shy and doubtful in the beginning but I realized those feelings helps me nothing and then I start sharing interesting things about my country to my host families and host school friends. I was also invited for a talk in my school to share the culture and the beauty of multi-races in my country.
Before I depart, some of my friends had thought that it was wasting time to take a gap year for this but I would say that you will never know until you experience it. It was tough sometimes in my exchange journey as life doesn't go to your way but I appreciate it as it is the chance for me to learn and build a stronger 'me' in the future. Somebody might be fast, somebody might be slow, but as long as it is on the right track then it will be fine.
Holt Educational Consultant - / 10,535 3447
You should not be describing the before aspect in such a great detail. Instead, you should be focusing on the "during" experience. The prompt is asking for an explanation regarding how this experience managed to influence you for the better. I saw a gloss over in the presentation, a simple discussion that doesn't really reflect the positive changes that occurred during your stay in Japan. While the orientation camps are a good reference, your time actually spent adjusting to life in Japan is what matters the most as it is that experience which requires you to present how you matured as a person and developed new skills for your personal, social, and moral betterment.
In my opinion, I personally think that I would not have the interest to read it to the end as what I look forward is your experience in Japan but your experience before arriving at Japan plus it is lengthy that will let the readers to think that the main content is focusing your preparation process.