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NUS Discretionary Admission Essay -Japanese Language

Prompt: This section is an opportunity for you to elaborate on the information you have provided earlier. You may discuss a special talent, a personal experience or an activity that you have been involved in that is relevant to the course you are applying for admission.

The deadline is looming so I need urgent help. Have to keep within 2000 characters. I would appreciate any editing or criticism. Thank you!!

I have always had a keen interest in the Japanese culture. When presented with the opportunity to learn the language in secondary school, I leapt at the chance. I love languages and it was a wonderful way to better understand and appreciate the nuances of the language, which would enable me to gain a comprehensive insight into their culture and lifestyle.

While learning the language, I took part in various exchange programs. In 2008, I participated in the Waseda-SILS Fall Program in Japan. I was thoroughly immersed in the Japanese lifestyle as I interacted with native students, attended lectures and even went shopping with them. Beyond the fleeting fascination with Japanese pop culture, I was particularly impressed by the impeccable service and graciousness of the Japanese people. It piqued my interest and motivated me to find out more about what made a gracious civil society and the impact of society on the individual and vice versa.

I also participated in a local immersion program at the Waseda Shibuya High School. This experience gave me a refreshing perspective on the Japanese culture as it was a cultural exchange in a local setting. I learnt how the Japanese students were adapting to life in Singapore; how certain practices that have faded into familiarity were in fact new and interesting to them. I realized how similar we could be in our values and traditions despite our differences. With a rich amalgamation of cultures in Singapore, building bridges of understanding and communication across the cultures is essential to discover our differences and commonalities.

Therefore, I believe the Japanese Studies and Sociology courses offered at FASS in NUS are exciting and comprehensive. With its unique emphasis on breadth and depth of learning, a holistic liberal arts education at NUS would not only deepen my interest in this area but also provide me with an incomparable edge in my future career.

Mar 22, 2010   #2
Hi. I need to submit my application form with the essay soon so I need help rather urgently! I want to see if my style of writing and the direction of my essay is going the right way so that I can make any changes to it. In fact, I came up with another version of the essay. Please tell me which is better, the previous one or this other version. I appreciate any comments, advice or criticism, any at all. Thank you so much!

A slightly different version. Which is better?
EF_KevinThreads: 8
Posts: 13,840
[Contributor] 129  
Mar 23, 2010   #3
While most of my classmates picked up the language mainly due to their desire to better understand/ enhance their enjoyment Japanese Manga or drama serials, my main motivation is a genuine--- this part might reflect negatively on you, because it's presumptuous to assume their motives were superficial. I think you can write this sentence in a better way if you don't compare yourself with them, but instead describe yourself as one person among those who really appreciate the Japanese language and culture.

There is no need to capitalize language when you write Japanese language.

The impeccable service I experienced in Japan were in contrasts sharply against what I usually experienced back home. It piqued my interest, and I was motivated to find out ...

Wow... you know what? I just read through the first one, and I really like it's clarity. I like the very straightforward, natural way you wrote it. You should use the first one, but divide that long paragraph into 2, and cut out 1 or 2 sentences to make it more powerful and concise.

Mar 24, 2010   #4
Hi Kevin! Thank you for taking time to reply! I sort of came up with a 'combined' version. Not sure if I made it worse...really worried that I did :( I'm feeling so stressed out now. :'( Really hope I can submit it soon. Please help me take a look at it as soon as you can. Thank you so much!!
I can feel that you are strongly inetersted in learning Japanese culture and society.
I think your essay is good in terms of showing your inetest and motivation to the study.
As a mere reader, I thought your essay would be more interesting and strong if I was able to know something more personal, maybe your background information about what made you ineterested in the culture and what kind of similarities and differences that you found through your experiences made you "awe" and seek to study the culture and the society from sociological point of view.

For example, rather than stating "I have always had a keen interest in the Japanese culture," I want to know the evidence through which I can confirm that you have been really a keen interest in the culture.

Also, "I realized how similar we could be in our values and traditions despite our differences."
>> While I agree that this statement holds some truth, I want to know from what experiences you derived this general idea/statement. How did you realize this idea? If you do not provide this kind of information, you become basically the same as people who learned it though the second hand infromtion like books and media. Since you have been participating in a lot of programs and activities, which shows that your interest and motivation must be greater than those people's, I think you should use these experiences more in your essay!

I hope my personal opinion will be a little help of your developing your own essay!
Good luck~
EF_KevinThreads: 8
Posts: 13,840
[Contributor] 129  
Mar 24, 2010   #6
Yes, it's excellent! You should feel confidant about your writing. In fact, because you already write well, it is time to start being artistic about how you lead the reader's attention. Let's work with these two sentences:

I have always had a keen interest in the Japanese culture.
I also participated in a local immersion program at the Waseda Shibuya High School.

These are plain and boring, so it is possible to use an artful technique to enliven them. Google this: literary devices list

If you enhance these sentences, the whole essay will be enhanced. Enjoy it though, because you already have an impressive essay.
Mar 24, 2010   #7
Thank you so much for all your encouragement and advice, fall2010transfe and Kevin! Really appreciate it a lot :) And yes, I'll keep working on my writing skills! :) Just submitted my applications...feeling relieved now! Thank you again! God Bless.

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