(i wrote this in a rush and i'm just not in a state where i can revise this essay alone, so i hope for your constructive criticism :) it's very unorganized and imo, rather emotional so keep that in mind if it's weird, this is also unedited and unfinished so this is a total rough draft)
personal statement essay
here are the prompts:
- Motivations with which you apply for this program
- Family and Education background
- Significant experiences you have had; risks you have taken and achievements you have made, persons or events that have had a significant influence on you
- Extracurricular activities such as club activities, community service activities or work experiences
- If applicable, describe awards you have received, publications you have made, or skills you have acquired, etc.
I grew up as a child who had to adapt to change more than I had realized. For the last twelve years of my life, I've moved through five schools, lived in four different home environments, and had gone through four more angst-y teen phases than the average kid. I've lost my understanding of what is a comfort zone because of how I've become used to being pushed out of what I'm comfortable with and it's made me grow closer into becoming someone more understanding and open to what isn't the norm. Change and adapting is essentially ingrained into who am I and it's what drives the most to succeed.
When I first moved from my birth country, Qatar, to Indonesia during my first year of middle school, there were many times where I struggled with classes because of my unexpected life in Indonesia and my first language being English. The only stability in class I had was mathematics, as numbers are going to be the same wherever it is. The longer I lived here, the more attached and interested I became with mathematics because there was a lighter burden of understanding words compared to other subjects. It could be said that math was the one subject that I pressured myself the most to become better at, for although I'm no stranger to constant change, I still liked that there was at least one thing in my life that wouldn't change for me.
I've always been in love with mathematics. When my mind wonders and I stop myself mid-thought, I always find myself subconsciously counting something, noticing a pattern and going on a tangent from there, I find comfort in numbers and how they intertwine with my life. So, as a child who always tended to push herself past my comfort zone, always ready to push through my limits, I pursued competitions, Olympiads, whatever it is that could help me prove myself as someone worthy of my love of my math, to prove that math is something much more than just a means for me to produce money in my future - I never won a single one.
I went from teacher to teacher, I got myself into studying material above my classes, I learned more of math through the internet in both English and Indonesian, just for that win, for that one win, but I never got it. I beat myself up over it, I lamented just why I never passed to the very end, why I couldn't comprehend the questions before my very eyes when I studied and practiced until isolation. I was met with the bitter reality that it was because I had no one to guide me, no teacher for me to help elaborate just what I've been missing.
I was a child who showed enthusiasm to learning, always loud with questions, and open with my opinions - I believed that if I was always active and worked hard, I'd get what I'd worked for, until I didn't. I moved to Indonesia with the promises of those around me that "I'll get used to the country with time", that "it'll be a place I hold love for soon enough", but no, that didn't happen to me. I loved the people, the friendships I've formed, the family I've grown more caring for, but I never fit well with the system, was never one to just sit still and let things happen.
When I realized that every time I asked a teacher to explain a math question I didn't understand, they also didn't understand, would brush me off by saying it's not necessary for me to understand something not in the curriculum, and disregard the willingness I had to go beyond what I knew - I was crushed. When I realized that when I got a grade lower than all the tests and worksheets I've done, I was told that how cooperative and nice I am to a teacher outweighs the effort I've put into classes - I was angry. When I realized that to whoever I vented this to, tried to work my head to just why the people responsible for my education didn't seem to value knowledge the same way I'd seen back when I was abroad, the answer I'd always hear was "Indonesians are just like that" - I was frustrated.
Seven years in my home country, the longer I spent it here, the more conflicted with the country I became. My initial reaction was a burning passion to leave, to strip myself of whatever had tied me down to the world I was ashamed for adapting to, to do anything just to get out of here. These thoughts plagued my mind for months on end, making me a broken record to those around with how often I voiced out the same words. That was until it dawned to me that it wasn't just me who was experiencing this feeling - all the kids that were privileged enough to go abroad had all chosen to leave for the same reason, anyone with a drive to improve would choose to live anywhere else but here because of the same reasons I'd been seething for months. These thoughts were what grounded me and birthed the beginnings of what I want to be my purpose: to be able to create an educational environment where no one will ever feel the way the people I looked up to made me feel: helpless.
I knew that wasn't going to be easy, especially not for me, a girl from a small school with no acknowledgement to back her up. People around me constantly questioned my ambitions, reminded me how was I going to do that when my chances were nearly zero - this only made me even more desperate and certain to achieve these goals. No child should have ever been put down like this and I want to make sure of that.
Clearly, the first step to this long term dream was college, the place where I've been taught to believe is merely meant for saving face when I get a job. Where I wanted to pursue a higher education because I loved learning, wanted to explore more of what the major took could offer, my school drilled into the students' minds that going to any college for any major was what mattered the most, the quality of it and how it fit us didn't matter because college was for nothing but for leeway into the workforce. The memories of the many people of authority at school undermining my choices for life after high school are still vivid and it hurts me more to know that there will more children who are to face situations similar to mine.
There are universities here that are certainly of quality, just like anywhere else, but I found it counter-productive to continue my education in a country where the learning environment is something I want to make better - I needed to go somewhere else that could guarantee that I could truly learn from it and be able to influence me positively.
From a young age, I was already long aware of how far ahead South Korea was in the sciences compared to the places I've studied. I was in utter awe with my Korean classmate that continuously dominated our math classes and how adjusted he was to it, always a level above no matter how hard I tried. So it was natural for this memory to stick with me, to come up from the back of my mind when I was debating on where to pursue.
Although I had all these plans swirling through my head, these dreams yearning to be reality echoing through my thoughts, as I planned to go to South Korea, I knew I was financially disadvantaged. Ever since my family had migrated back to Indonesia, money had always been tight. Compared to my younger sister who had just began elementary school, I was never financially prioritized, going to whichever school was most cost-convenient to which I had then thankfully gotten a few scholarships at a while later. So, going abroad was out of the question unless it was on a full scholarship.
Now, I know this begs the question, what guarantees my quality as a candidate? I am fully aware that I have no evidence to that, no wins, no exceptional grades, no immaculate background; I'm still someone who has put more than 101% into what I could do, I've worked so hard to survive and pull through in this state where my feet may as be stuck to the ground. I guarantee my honesty, my earnestness, and my thirst to improve because that's all I'm left with right now.
All the competitions I've lost have helped me become someone who's knowledgeable enough to be able to aid my underclassmen that have won the competitions I've lost. The school system that has done left me at more unease than peace have made me spend many of my days since graduation helping both friends and strangers online with what they're learning at school for free because I know that not even the people you've paid can guarantee they'll help you understand. Despite my lack in the typical qualifications a model student would have, I know that I comprehend enough that I can relay my knowledge to others.