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Why I hate the questions where are you from

MattiaPiaggi 1 / 2  
Oct 12, 2020   #1

"Where are you from?"

"Hi Mattia, Where are you from?"
I stood there completely dumbfounded, staring into the eyes of my freshman english teacher Mr. Casarez, having no clue what to reply. I hated being asked "Where are you from?" and you may be wondering why "why is that? It's a simple question, just reply with your country of citizenship." However, what most people fail to realise is that whenever we respond the question "Where are you from?" we are immediately tied to the stereotypical ideologies that people believe to exist in our countries, and for me it never felt like I belonged to either.

Being the product of a Taiwanese mother and an Italian father, my sense of identity had always been a hazy one. Growing up in China I always saw the disparities between myself and the general population. My skin is darker, hair is curlier, and I am about a foot taller than everyone else. Visiting Italy during the summers, I was always referred to as the kid who had a Taiwanese mother, not the kid who was also half Italian. When we visited Taiwan during Chinese new year, my sister and I were always the outsiders as everyone was under the impression we identified as Italians. I was an outsider no matter where I went, nowhere felt like home, and every time someone asked me "Where are you from?" it felt like the words were a spell, summoning all of my insecurities of being a biracial child who wasn't able to find a sense of belonging no matter the country.

To add fuel to the fire, I attended an international school for the majority of my life. It was an environment where everyone was a foreigner. An environment where we formed connections with people who shared similar upbringings, and whenever we had conversations about our homeland everyone had a destined place to call home. However, I was left to be an outsider not having a concrete perception of where to call home.

As I matured and grew older gaining experiences with my mom and sister, traveling the world and learning their culture, I realised how lucky I am. It is not a burden to be biracial as I had thought for the first fourteen years of my life. Visiting New York City for the first time, I had noticed something I have never experienced before, no glaring stares when I was interacting with the locals, no head turns as I walked down the street and no strange feeling that I was where I did not belong. I started using the ability that i was a biracial and multilingual person to my advantage. Walking down the street and purchasing chamangoes from a local vendor in Spanish. Visiting China town and asking if they had baozi as I was craving a taste of china for breakfast. It helped me realise that it was not a bad thing being a biracial multilingual individual. As I was able to find and form connections with a vast amount of cultures and people who resided in New York City. Every year when my family would visit friends residing in Barcelona, Cebu, Tokyo and London. I learned to accept that people were allowed to view me as the foreigner. As being a foreigner meant that I was able to learn from locals about their way of life, the national foods, and the best local spots; instead of being secluding myself as I believed I was an outsider. I began to understand that being bicultural and multilingual never meant that I a foreigner no matter where I resided. It meant that I was able to form new connections with people no matter where I was. Being a biracial multilingual person no longer meant that I was an outsider, it means that no matter where I am, I am and always will be able to find comfort in the uncomfortable.
gatluakdthon 1 / 2 1  
Oct 12, 2020   #2
@MattiaPiaggi is this one a personal statement or what because I don't really understand whether this essay is for academic purpose or just a story which you want to tell. it is hard to review this essay since there is no prompt and throughout the essay nothing can tell what it is written for
OP MattiaPiaggi 1 / 2  
Oct 12, 2020   #3
@gatluakdthon Hello, yes this is a personal statement for college. I Apologize I forgot to specify. Any feedback would be appreciated. Would also like to add that this is for NYU and that there is a 650 word count limit.
zolution - / 1  
Oct 12, 2020   #4
Hi, this is an interesting topic and I can definitely see what you are going for and you are so close:

" Visiting New York City for the first time..."

If this is a personal statement for NYU, I would really draw that in here. NYC was the first place you felt a sense of belonging, so how will that impact your future? Why does that make you want to go to school there?

Aside from that, there are only a few grammar and flow issues here and there.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,647 3480  
Oct 13, 2020   #5
When you write a personal statement for a college application, you should be focusing on explaining the background of your interest in your college course. How did you come to be interested in this course? How have you prepared yourself for college by honing your skills in relation to this major? How has your interest in this course helped you develop as a person? What did you learn about yourself based upon your desire to advance your interest in the course? Based on your academic interest, how did you come to decide that the school you settled on is the right one for you? Think about anything about yourself and your interest in the course that you were not allowed to present in the other application essays, integrate that information into the personal statement.

While your essay says a lot about who you are, it does not really offer the reviewer an idea as to how your interests integrate into your personality, academic goals, and professional ambitions. You need to make sure that you combine all of the information into the personal essay to help the reviewer get a better idea of who you are, where you are from, and how these all worked together to create a unique personality and a different kind of interest in this field.
OP MattiaPiaggi 1 / 2  
Oct 13, 2020   #6
@Holt I understand your point. NYU does require a seperate essay about our career interests and why we want to attend NYU. Therefore it felt more appropriate to write about myself for my personal statement and leave all the stuff about my academic and career interests in the separate essay. However, I may be wrong.
lylrose 1 / 3  
Oct 17, 2020   #7
I think only last part of your essay indicates why you want to be in NYU. I would have to say it's not really convincing. There's still something that is missing there that can make you a strong candidate. You should maybe tried to find like a really stronger reason to be there and if it's related to your major it would be better.

Ps. I totally feel you. I'm a third culture kid too. But in my case, I'm far worse because I have to attend a public school and I totally felt like an alien wherever I go hahahaa. But to our advantage we are multilinguals!

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