Tell us about an experience, in school or out, that taught you something about yourself and/or the world around you. (maximum 200 words)
Smashing a volleyball to the floor; sinking a basketball melodiously through the hoop; hitting a tennis ball perfectly along the sideline: these are some of the most rewarding feelings I get. But by playing sports, I also realised that I have a tendency to get overly disappointed with myself.
During tennis training, I would get discouraged whenever I made a mistake, eventually feeling so defeated I couldn’t hit the ball properly anymore. Recognising this, my coach took me to a hectic shopping street where people kept bumping into me without apologising, or even noticing! My coach told me that I should stand in life the same way I should stand on the court, confidently and proudly; only then would people stop bumping into me. So I stood up tall and lifted my gaze from the ground. Surprisingly, people walked around me rather than through me. I realised that my demeanor is a reflection of my personality, that if I just presented myself differently, my path would become a whole lot easier. A person’s emotional well-being and physical performance are closely tied, and a slight change in how I deemed myself improved my mentality on the court and, ultimately, in life.
Be it inside or outside of the classroom, what have you done to challenge yourself intellectually? Describe an issue, topic or area of study that you have investigated or pursued. (maximum 200 words)
After asking the teacher for help, getting tutored during the evenings, and picking my brain to do its job, it clicks. I finally understand how to solve angular momentum problems. Some things click, some things don’t. For me, math is a subject that just doesn’t click. I knew that taking AP Physics would be tough, because my math abilities were inept; however, I also knew that, somehow, I would eventually find the right answer.
I took AP Physics because I like being challenged. The first day of class, I entered the room, confident with my abilities only for it to be shattered by math. Hopeless and frustrated, I rested my head on the table, portraying the look of defeat. My teacher then suggested that I do the problems on the whiteboard. As I worked my way through one, I arrived at a value. Hesitantly, I looked at my teacher who nodded her head in approval; I found the right answer. Despite the strenuous effort, I learned that if I looked at the bigger picture, I would find the value in my problems. Thereupon, I felt ready to face a greater challenge: AP Calculus.
Explain how you responded to a problem and/or an unfamiliar situation. What did you do, what was the outcome, and what did you learn from the experience? (maximum 200 words)
When I was fifteen, I was sent to live in a dorm in Japan, a country I knew nothing about. Alone and insecure, I coped by becoming indifferent to my surroundings. As time passed, I knew I couldn’t keep living like I didn’t care, so I began to explore the splendours of Japan, venturing out into wild rivers, moss-covered cliffs, and snowy mountains. I’ve seen the sunrise over the cloud after a midnight hike, admired the beautifully structured temples, and indulged in Japanese cuisine.
These experiences introduced me to an entirely new culture, and attending an international school let me meet so many people with varying ethnicities. Even though I wasn’t surrounded by family -- or by anything familiar for that matter -- living in Japan is the biggest adventure I’ve had so far. As a result, I’ve found my indifference has turned to ambition: ambition to see the world and learn from and in different cultures. Openness to experience is the best way to learn, and moving to Japan has taught me that if I keep my eyes and mind open, there will be no end to my adventures.
Despite having changed prompts, I still had to write a reflection on my previous essay. However, I didn't get any constructive criticism from the peer review process. And I have to say, even though I can't write a proper reflection, I am incredibly relieved because this is the final draft that I actually submitted to a university, and so the fact that no one could find anything that needed to change made me very happy.
Prompt: A letter of motivation stating in your own words why you would like to study at University College Utrecht. In your letter, at least answer the following questions: - On the basis of your academic strengths and interests, why do you want to study at a Liberal Arts & Sciences College? - On the basis of your personal experiences and ambitions, why do you want to be a student at a residential College? Length of the motivation letter: Not longer than 500 words (or equivalent in sign count).
A four-year-old wandering by herself and exploring the streets of Montreal. That was me after ‘escaping’ from my parents during a holiday. Like most kids, I was curious and went off to discover what was out there. When I was fourteen years old, I observed the delicate dissection of a mouse’s brain during an internship project at a Dutch university. Fascinated by the lab technician’s dexterity and the research processes’ complexity, I became interested in the sciences. During Philosophy class, my teacher challenged me by asking questions that were neither right nor wrong. He would grin by my confused expression and tell me that “questions are sometimes more important than answers”. During this class I found the importance of uncertainty and questioning authority, sparking my interest in the humanities. This past year, my experience as student body president introduced me to the world of group dynamics. Numerous instances of misunderstanding could’ve been avoided if only I was more aware of people’s personal perceptual filters and collaboration and communication aspects. This experience motivates me to study the social sciences. I believe these events and experiences depict my personality, focused on the development of my interests and strengths through a variety of life experiences and stimulating educational environments.
My strengths of being productive, diligent and hardworking have helped me achieve good results and find satisfaction in my studies. My school in the Netherlands and my parents reinforced hard work by motivating me to always do my best. Through combining and balancing a heavy workload with extracurricular activities, I learned to be responsible and persistent in pursuing personal goals. I took these skills with me when I moved to Japan three years ago.
I have been a resident at a dormitory ever since I moved because Sakhalin, where my dad got his new job, didn’t offer secondary international education. Most of my day I was surrounded by peers, all coming from different backgrounds and having unique characters, and I really enjoyed it. Whilst attending an international school in Japan - after nine years in the Netherlands - I decided to pursue the advantages of my home country while experiencing the diversity of an international environment, for it’s in this setting I know I can thrive. My experience as an international dorm student encouraged me to continue this lifestyle at your residential college. My wide scope of interests is the reason I would like to study at the UCU; not just for the pleasure of learning a broad range of subjects, but also for the benefits of having detailed knowledge in these three areas of the Liberal Arts and Sciences. And I am convinced that this education will present me with adequate and interesting opportunities for a fulfilling job and career.
Not having received constructive criticism from the peer review process, I asked people who I knew could really help me. They told me that the language I used was too "flowery" and that I didn't answer the prompt properly. So, I changed the entire structure of my essay so that it would make more sense. I also answered the question directly without going off topic or being ambiguous. And lastly, I cut down many of the sentences or rewrote them so that it wouldn't sound too wordy or pretentious. I tried to be more myself.
Creating a painstakingly crafted work of art to display at the AP Art exhibition; peeking through the eyepiece of a microscope to study the phases of mitosis; sitting on a step in Florence and observing human interaction: these events depict significant experiences in my life that formed the base of my desire to learn everything.
I would lie awake at night, contemplating my future and pondering over questions such as: Do I want to pursue medicine and save people? Or learn languages and become a translator? Or study sociology and scavenge the “secrets” of social dynamics? Similar to choosing between chocolate-covered strawberries and oreo cheesecake, it’s hard for me to choose between subjects where my strengths and interests lie, which is why I’d like to gain more experience in these three fields before deciding which direction I’d like to pursue and a Liberal Arts and Sciences College provides me the opportunity to do so.
My strength of finding joy and fulfillment in being productive stems from my capacity for hard work, which I’ve gained from my parents and grew through my surroundings. My school in the Netherlands and my parents reinforced hard work by motivating me to always do my best. Through balancing a heavy workload with extracurricular activities, I learned how to be diligent and persistent with my responsibilities. I took these skills with me when I moved to Japan three years ago.
I have been a resident at a dormitory ever since I moved, because Sakhalin, where my dad got his new job, didn’t offer secondary international education. With my family being dispersed over the entire world, I had to adapt to the loneliness. But I wasn’t alone at all. Most of my day I was surrounded with peers, all coming from different backgrounds and having unique characters, and I absolutely loved it. I want to be a student in a residential College in Utrecht, because I seek the comfort of my home country while maintaining the unpredictability of an international environment, for in this setting the most exciting thing happened: I grew curious.
Like most kids, a large sense of curiosity rushed through my blood - imagine a four-year-old wandering by herself and exploring the streets of Montreal; however, by moving to a foreign country and attending an international school, my curiosity fostered. I’d satisfy this “lust of the mind” by indulging in challenging courses and pursuits. One challenge that truly helped me grow was becoming student body president, a role requiring leadership which I still had to work up to; nevertheless, after a year of organising, managing, and communicating, I’ve developed vital skills that I aim to improve and utilise further in- and outside of your Liberal Arts and Sciences programme, while pursuing the three areas that fuel my insatiable curiosity.