Can you guys please criticize my Common App essay? Like the title says, it's on "a person who has had a significant influence on you". Thanks!(My Grandfather)
I remember two striking images from the afternoon I left China at age five. The first is an image of my grandfather crying as I left my grandparents' house in a taxi, with the sun setting in the distance. And second is a little glass bottle that my grandfather gave me that day, filled with some dirt off the street and a little note inside, with "never forget your homeland" etched onto the glass in faded calligraphy. To this day, I still keep that little glass bottle on a drawer next to my bed.
My grandfather was like a loving parent, a teacher, and a unique role model who I look up to even today, after his death. During my years in Hohhot, a city in the Inner Mongolia province of China, one of my fondest memories was of my grandfather taking me to ride the bus, taking a different route every day. We would always walk to the main bus station around the corner, choose a random red and white bus to get on, and ride to the end of the line and back. At every stop on the way, he would explain to me where the place was and its significance. Occasionally, we would pay a visit to some of the more important stops, such as at the city zoo or Tian Yuan, a major mall, and "explore" the area as if we were on an adventure.
By the time I was four, I came to know most of the city well. The routine bus rides my grandfather took me on every day had indirectly influenced my keen sense of direction and deep interest in geography. As a child, I had always been interested in geography, from constantly picking up the globe to memorize countries to acquiring my own collection of maps of various cities. And until one day recently, I didn't know what had sparked my interest; I made the connection that the mentality of going out of the house every day for ample periods of time and exploring different parts of the city had developed my innate curiosity to learn and explore.
When I traveled back to China a few summers ago, I decided to explore my grandparents' apartment after losing a fight with jet lag one night. As I walked into my grandfather's study room, I stumbled upon about fifteen small, peculiar looking notebooks. Curiously, I flipped through one and saw that it was packed with poems written in my grandfather's cursive calligraphy. I opened notebook after notebook, and each one was the same. Throughout a few years, my grandfather churned out one poem every day, and the books were filled with lines and lines of intellectual creativity. Some of these poems were about daily life, but others, to my surprise, detailed rhyming instructions on various rules of the English language (when to use past tense or add an "s", etc), providing an easier, more "rhythmic" way of memorizing them. The next day, I asked my grandfather, "Why don't you get these published?
He replied, "Well, I guess I could get your uncle to help me publish them. But I don't care about that too much."
I thought to myself, "What a waste of a talent!" and said, "So why did you even bother writing some 'practical poetry' that no one would probably ever get to read?"
He simply said, "Because it doesn't matter." And that point stayed with me for a long time.
My retired grandfather self-learned English every morning at his study desk from before I was born to a few years ago when he passed away. Despite his "learning handicap" of being in old age, my grandfather, who knows Chinese and Russian fluently, took up learning English for no other purpose than intellectual curiosity. Back in the day, whether I was riding my tricycle indoors or simply walking past his study room in the mornings, I always saw my grandfather with big spectacles on, reading from texts with a dictionary and a notepad at hand. From such an early age, I was influenced by his persistence and exemplification of study and work habits that have had their ramifications on me to this day. For years I had, as a habit, done all of my homework first without procrastinating, and then went outside to play. I also earnestly believe that it was from his being a role model and the impact of his habits that have truly shaped me to become a successful student today.
Without a doubt, I consider myself lucky to have had a special relationship with my grandfather, and I owe my success in academics and my passion for geography and exploring to his love and his actions. He taught me all of these things from before I was five, and it's incredible that I still apply what I had learned from him as a toddler to my life and way of thinking today.
On a cold fall night in late October, the day before I was to leave for America to live with my parents, as I was in bed, I sadly asked my grandfather, "Why do I have to leave? I want to stay with you and grandma."
And he replied, "You will experience great things in America. You will meet people with strange names like Tom and John. Don't worry about us. Your grandmother and I will take a very slow plane to follow you to America. It may be a long time, but we will eventually see each other again."
And with that, I slept soundly.