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(Annual Hanami Festival / Meeting Strangers) COMMON APPs

stevenyy 1 / 5  
Jan 1, 2012   #1
Could you please which essay is better to use as COMMON APP MAIN essay?? I am really confused...

Option 1:

Main Essay
A soft wind brushed my face. As the breeze picked up, the peach-pink cherry blossom covered the blue sky, and edged its way down in utter disregard to gravity. In the sublime scenery of the Annual Hanami Festival in March, tears flooded my eyes and dripped down my face-despite the no-cry deal with my mom-mimicking the path of the cherry blossoms that fluttered to the ground alongside me.

In the breeze, petals quivered on the branch, ready to fall.
A week ago, due to my mother's job transfer, my parents decided to abandon this cozy place and move to Beijing. I hated moving. After living in Yokohama, Japan for eight years, I saw the city as my home. My friends, neighbors and memories would be shattered. I screamed "no" in my heart. Are the petals willing to drop?

"Hey boy, where are you from?" My ears picked up the familiar tones of Mandarin. Judging from the cameras and backpacks, it was a tourist. Too often asked these questions by my own people, I had a ready response-"Shanghai," I blurted out, ignoring my grandma's admonition about talking to strangers.

The petals floated in the air, drifting like little snowflakes. Driven by the wind, they flew up in an unpredictable path, not knowing where to land.

That question made me ponder-it was a question tougher than any set of calculus problems, a task more nerve-racking than any speech I delivered in the United Nations. For most Chinese, the question is so critical, yet so usual, that it has become a greeting. Yet for me, it was a psychological suggestion: I am literally rootless. Since I was young, my footprints connecting the rural county of Jiangsu China, to Yokohama in Japan, to Shanghai, and Beijing have woven into a tapestry interspersed, which saw my home uprooted seven times, accompanied by eight school changes. Like Odysseus in his trek, I have adapted to this constant change with optimism. In fact, I welcomed its merits: Zen philosophy along with my independence from Japan, rapport along with serenity and calmness from Yangzhong County, and initiative and toughness from Beijing. Like a stained glass in the chapel, every element reflects its own light in the dark. I am not shaped by any single force, nor have I been wholly influenced by any particular culture. I come from nowhere, and I come from everywhere.

Surprisingly, a pedal landed elegantly in front of me. It fixed at the moment of dressing up the road in a vibrant pink despite its long trek in the air.

Seventeen years of experience, however, has told me that my "rootlessness" was a blessing. "Nothing endures but change." My life is all about uncertainty, with the only constant being preparation for newer uncertainties. I left my basketball team shortly after a victory over a rival school; I said goodbye to my classmates shortly after meeting them. Nonetheless I have no regrets. Now, I learnt to appreciate things at the present to cherish what is in control.

Cherry Blossom is known as a momentary splendor, a sublime yet transient impression at the moment the pink petal left the branch. Watching the "rain" of the cherry blossom, I have a sense dawn on me-beauty resides in the scene of a flower bursting into bloom, in the scene of blossom detaching from the branch, in the scene of floating in wind, and in the scene of them pilling to a boulevard of fallen blossoms. The "best" at each point forms an extended momentary beauty-though transient, it attains the best at each location, and leaves an everlasting impression of splendor.

A breeze interrupted my recollection. The pink petals spin and dance like flurries in the air, their beauty mirroring the fallen blossoms on an avenue of Beijing. In a sudden, I realized how similar I was with the fluttering petals.

for this one, i feel like that the prose is too fancy and it's too much about telling, not showing. Also, I feel like there it lacks solid story... It's all about philosophizing, and that sucks...??

Option 2

Meeting Strangers
I enjoy meeting strangers.
In New York, I met with Sarah, an old grandmother from Iowa. When she told me she had learned how to pilot a small aircraft one year earlier, I opened my eyes wide and blurted out, "Wait a minute. Could you tell me how old you are?" "Seventy," she said, and continued recounting her other adventures. Her stories challenged my stereotype of an old lady confined to a nursing home. For the first time, I realized that youth was a blessing to the aged.

In Yokohama, I wandered around and entered a book store, where I happened to meet a girl reading one of my favorite Chinese novels. I plucked up my courage to break the ice. After a short chat, we were astonished to find that, though we were Chinese growing up in Japan, we shared affection for Chinese literature. She told me, "many years ago my grandpa immigrated to Japan to escape from the political purge, but he has never forgotten what he left behind." For the first time, it dawned on me that there was something that distance can never change: a shared cultural root.

When I do not travel around, I will meet another type of stranger: those in novels. Some of them inspire me with a whim of destiny, like the brothers Amir and Hassan in the Kite Runner. Amir, the legitimate heir, can escape to the United States but remain childless, while Hassan, the natural son, has to stay, suffer, and finally die, leaving a son to perpetuate the family tree. On the other hand, there are other characters that reveal to me the paradoxical nature of human beings, like Tomas in the Unbearable Lightness of Being, who wrestles with his love for his wife Tereza and his promiscuous inclinations. There are others still who warn me of the danger of conflicts in value, like Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart, who uncompromisingly defends his rigid value of masculinity, tries not to be a coward, and finally hangs himself from a tree.

Those strangers, whether real or fictional, influence me in a subtle way. As the walls of my ego recede, I overcome my shyness and become communicative. I will easily have empathy with others and engage my peers in delightful conversations. On the other hand, characters offer me different perspectives of life and other possibilities of living beyond my comprehension. I have learned to relate myself to these strangers. Whenever I am hesitant to try something new, I will feel Sarah's encouraging gaze. Whenever I go astray to the extreme, I will feel Okonkwo leaping out in my mind, shouting to me," Kid, do you want to follow me to the tree?" Despite all the surprises they bring to me, I feel these strangers, once they impress me, will turn out to be friends within.

So dear stranger, would you like to meet me and enlighten me with your stories?

for this one, i feel like its not as personal as that cherry blossom essay... Basically, it can apply to anyone..
Also, the structure is so obvious that maybe the reader will be bored to understand what i am going to talk about in the entire essay just by a glimpse of first several paragraphs...

What is your feeling?? Could you please comment on them?? Where can I improve upon?? Please be brutally honest about them, and your comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated!! Do me favor and I will return the favor:)

Thank you!!!!
yuanyuan3045 6 / 23  
Jan 1, 2012   #2
I like option 1 more! it's more personal and exciting. I agree that you could tighten up the prose a bit, make it more focused on how you embrace diversity and change and such.

I suggest cutting out the last sentence about the petals and talk about how the cherry blossom relates to you. Your first essay is really beautiful, if it could be expanded into an autobiography or short memoirs, but given the limits on the common app you have to find a meaningful point to talk about.

I feel your pain but trust yourself! go for the first!
dreams2012 - / 1  
Jan 1, 2012   #3
I also believe your first essay is better. I've read it several times and I really like it. I even made an account so that I could comment on this thread.

I actually like your last line, as it brings your essay a full circle. But I'm not applying to American universities so I don't know how credible my suggestions are.

Best of luck but you are definitely a talent writer to say the least
elephant1 2 / 16  
Jan 2, 2012   #4
i like option 1 more, it shows more about you and it is really interesting. great writing.
TheLeader 2 / 36  
Jan 2, 2012   #5
Definitely the first one. It's much more unique and engaging than the second one. There is a little more telling than there is showing, but there's nothing wrong with that. There is a great story, and it doesn't suck! Pick the first one :) Good luck!

Please check out my essay(s) :)
sibylisaprophet 2 / 7  
Jan 2, 2012   #6
I like the fisrt one. It's beautiful. I believe it's difficult for you since you have so much to tell.
I think there are too many one-sentence-long examples but very few deep reflections on them, meaning it's smart and touching but not thoughtful enough.

A little adjustment and it will be a perfect essay~
A little bit risky is always better than trite, although mine is total trite ~> <~ so just grammar-checking mine will be great! thx thx
saurabh93 11 / 94  
Jan 2, 2012   #7
I liked your first essay much better because it is unconventional and the metaphor works very well.
Please check my essay, thanks.

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