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Messages - Spackledgoat

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Here is a re-do of a previous statement. My last one's problems included long, confusing sentences (blame comparative lit programs for that), telling rather than showing and a confused form. Please let me know what you think of this. Also, please let me know if you have any ideas in how my conclusion could be made better. Thanks

I stepped into my new home, taking in the decades old, faded wallpaper that clung to the crumbling wall. I had just moved to Romania and I knew my life would never be the same. My ďroommateĒ was not a fellow student, but rather a 84 year old woman who had lived through war, revolution and a half decade of communism and spoke not one word of English. I was there to learn to speak a new language, live and thrive away from home, but with each moment I spent waiting in that entranceway those goals seemed more and more difficult.  I didnít know a single person in the entire country, didnít know where my school was or how to carry on a conversation with anyone else. After 21 years of comfortable life, Iíd cast myself down the rabbit hole.
   Since that day it has been nearly four years, and I still live in Romania. I hadnít planned on spending the entirety of my early twenties abroad, but looking back I see that doing so has made me into a far more mature and worldly individual. My journey started when I was awarded a David L. Boren NSEP scholarship to study abroad for a year. This scholarship is given by the federal government to students who have shown a keen interest in lesser known languages and have future goals of government work. I spent the year in northern Romania working on my language skills while doing research into the role of the Hungarian population in Romanian politics. My look into the rights of Hungarians has helped develop an interest into minority rights in American society, and I hope to pursue a legal career defending and developing those rights. As the year ended, I decided that I didnít want my study abroad experience to be like so many others and just be that interesting thing I had done in college. I wanted to be able to use my experience in my later life, and so I felt it most important to master the Romanian language.  I spent the following year attending an intensive, daily language program designed by the Romanian government to qualify students to attend college in Romanian. The year of study and the passing of the final examination has been a defining moment for me. Language has never been my strong suit and therefore being able to speak Romanian is among the things I am most proud of. I had always been able to learn things quickly and with little effort, but learning a language cannot happen like that. I couldnít look over a lesson and use it; language requires practice, dedication and study. I was forced to mature as a student in order to succeed, while establishing study habits that I hope will bring me success during law school.
   Once I had graduated from the language program, I was given the opportunity to be the first student to participate in a teaching exchange between Arizona State and the University of Bucharest. I was given the job as an English instructor for freshman students in the college of American studies. I have developed my own curriculum, a process in which I identified the weaknesses in my students writing ability due to insufficient academic writing experience in high school and subsequently developed a more writing intensive course for the students. In addition to refining my own academic writing through the need to teach the students those skills, I developed excellent group communication skills and acquired the confidence to speak in front of large groups through the process of developing and delivering classroom lectures. Being a teacher has made me a better student. I hope that I will be able to translate what Iíve learned here to success in the classroom. The maturity that comes along with learning a language or being a mentor for a young student is the maturity I wish to apply to my legal studies, while I wish to add my richness of experience into my community.

Here is my first draft for my personal statement. I have been struggling with topics, and think that focusing on my international experience is best. For background, I've been living and studying in Romania for 4 years, 2 doing language study and the next two doing a masters in American Studies. I've also been teaching English at a University. I left this at less than 2 pages as I would like to include some school specific information about how this experience applies to programs and courses that each school offers.

Please tear this apart:

I stepped into my new home, taking in the decades old, faded wallpaper that clung to the crumbling wall. I had just moved to Romania for what would turn into four years of study and already the fact that my life would be changed greatly had made itself central in my thinking. My “roommate” was not to be a fellow student, but rather a 84 year old woman who had lived through war, revolution and a half decade of communism and spoke not one word of English. I was there to learn to speak, live and thrive away from home, but what had seemed so bold previously seemed now daunting.  I didn’t know a single person in the entire country, didn’t know where my school was or how to carry on a conversation with anyone else. After 21 years of comfortable life, I’d cast myself down the rabbit hole.
   My first months abroad were filled with frustration and confusion as I attempted to integrate myself in another culture.  I was forced to give up my assumptions of what is the norm and how things should be done, and to teach myself a new way of operating. I learned how to work through bureaucracy, while making connections that allowed for me to get ahead in a system built upon who you know. The situation made me understand the importance of viewing the world through others eyes, and being able to show my opinions in such a way that others could understand me. Learning Romanian became a priority, and I was able to experience the difficulty but also the joy in learning another language. In time, I became at home in my new surroundings, as comfortable among the communist-era apartment blocks as any suburban American neighborhood.  The contrasts in cultures and lifestyle became something that gave me joy. I realized that the struggle to integrate has brought with it an immense change in me. I had been given the gift of understanding the world that only a removal from ones comfortable home can force.
My abilities as a student have been similarly enhanced by my international experience as I became more able to analyze information from multiple perspectives. The manner of thinking taught in American schools have been blended with the very different Eastern European system to allow me to become a more flexible, creative and analytical student. The determination and mental flexibility required to learn another language effectively have made me more effective in all aspects of learning. Being the only American in my classes has taught me the importance of a vocal minority, and being able to stick with and support ones opinions and convictions when I might be the only one behind them.
I feel that my international experience has put me in an excellent position to excel at X Law School and my future legal career.  My ability to analyze from a diversity of opinions will translate into a greater understanding of my work, while my ability to communicate through barriers of culture will prove to be an asset in my career. The patience and value of a dedicated approach to a task that I’ve learned through my language studies make me into a superior scholar, and will be invaluable in the legal field. I’ve learned to stick to my guns, while never disregarding the opinions and critique of others. Most importantly, it’s taught me the value of being a well-rounded, vocal and dedicated individual that is willing to contribute to a situation while knowing the importance of learning from those around me.

Law School Admissions / Addendum or not?
« on: May 17, 2010, 03:23:51 AM »
 I'm just a few weeks before I take my LSAT and in the midst of the "prep like a madman and dream about high scores and schools" phase of the application process. I'm trying to prepare as much admission work as possible before the fall, as I had read that earlier applications do better. Well, one thing I'm not sure about is to include an addendum explaining gaps in my transcript. Here's what happened:  After my junior year of college, I got a decently prestigious study abroad scholarship for a year in Romania. During the year, I took one or two online courses from my home university and a community college, but did not graduate. The next year I chose to stay in Romania and do a language study so as to be certified in Romanian. During that time I took the last couple credits needed to graduate, and finished college that way.  Should I include an addendum in my applications explaining why my schooling suddenly dropped off at my university and why I used community college credits to finish? My personal statement will cover the foreign stuff, but I want to make it clear why my transcript looks like it does. Would that help or do you feel its unnecessary?

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