Saturday, 17 August 2013

My Recent Eye-Opening Experience with University Applications

For the past few months, the only topic that has been dominating my life is applying to university. Considering the fact that this is a process that is undergone by the entire collection of students of my age at my school, I was anticipating there to be slightly more support from my peers than there actually turned out to be. Instead, the environment came across as cut-throat and harsh.
Applying to a university in South Africa requires a different mindset than applying to a university in the U.S., for the mere fact that the only aspect of your life that matters here is your ability to get good grades in school. A student's personality, dedication, potential or other interests are all substituted with numbers. If the grade 11 school exams that you took at the end of the previous year did not go as well as planned, or even if exams are simply something that you struggle with and do not generally do well in, your chances of getting into one of the good universities are reduced to less than slim. As a person who, for some undetermined and frustrating reason, can simply not get a good foot forward when it comes to writing a 3 hour exam on physical sciences, I would like to argue against the use of a set of 14 exams to determine the entire aptitude and potential of an individual.
Since a young age I have worked to become a (hopefully) intelligent and generally well-rounded person. I spent my childhood not watching tv or playing whatever Nintendo device was popular at the time, but reading. I remember at one stage when I was about 10 or 11 years old I took all of the books I had from the past 2 years off my book shelves and piled them together in the living room. The sum of all these pages made 3 towering piles, all on the brink of tipping over. All other free time I had was taken up either in practicing my cello or tennis, both hobbies of which I have been developing since the age of about 5 or 6. Can all of these aspects of my life, my passion to learn knew things and my drive to better myself in both life and in study (something that I feel strongly every day), be summed up in a sequence of 3-hour long exams? My struggle to concentrate, unmoving on a hard chair for several hours, has provided me with academic results that are somewhat disheartening and give me a pessimistic view of my future.
This still affects me even though I know that I will only be applying to schools in the U.S. and not South Africa. It has been difficult to separate what I am surrounded by and what is really what I will be facing in my personal endeavors, which could be a reason why I am not as motivated for the future as I should be. The idea that I will have the opportunity to show who I am as a full person through essays and contact with those working in the admissions office does make a difference. Even if a certain school that I aspire to does not accept me when the time comes, I will know that I had been given thought and consideration and not just discarded as a number that did not quite make the cut.
This should be something to think about for anyone who is applying to university in the U.S.. Appreciate the opportunity to express who you are and take advantage of it. Put effort into every university you apply to because each university will also put effort into you. If you have the passion to go forward with your education and do something more with your life in terms of a tertiary institution, show it and someone will recognize it. This is treatment, I now realize, that not everyone has the chance to receive.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

An Introduction

Guacamole N' Chips.
Yes! Perfect! All I ever needed was another blog about food. 
I am afraid that anyone who may be reading this has been viciously, viciously deceived. This is not about food. In all honesty this is about me.
I am a 17-year-old girl who has been living in Pretoria, South Africa for the past 5 years, and will soon be leaving again with plans to go to university somewhere in the lovely United States of America. More on that eventually.
A brief summary of my previous destinations and life:
1995- Born in Chicago, Illinois
1996- At the age of 1 my family of 3 departs to live in Tokyo, Japan.
2000- The trio returns to the USA and I carry out my Elementary School years in Colorado.
2006- Surprise! The parents believe that Eastern Europe is their calling, so we move to Ljubljana, Slovenia. My first two years of middle school are spent at an isolated and minuscule American-curriculum based international school where I am in a class consisting of me and 4 other boys, the entire population of grades 6-8.
2008- A temporary change of scenery occurs where we live for 3 months with my mother's family who are farmers in south-west Iowa. In the mean time visas are sorted out in regards to our move to...
2008 (later)- South Africa! Here I am enrolled to carry out my Secondary education in an Anglican girl's school, one of the most drastic changes I have ever had to adapt to in my life, in my opinion. Besides the fact that never in my life before had I ever been required to wear a uniform, besides the fact that never in my life before had I ever really hung out with a large quantity of girls, besides the fact that suddenly I woke up every morning in Africa, but all my life I had been raised in a relatively religiously-liberal family. To put it quite subtly, my first year was a combination of violent culture shock and general apprehension. Twice a week the school day would begin with a compulsory chapel service. If ever you walked by an adult, you had to greet them, and if you were sitting, you had to stand up as well. Demerits were given out for not using a brown hair tie (all hair must be tied back), shoes not being polished, the length of your school dress not meeting the "4 fingers above the knee" requirement, the presence of nail polish, wearing incorrect earrings, and plenty more. A very academically prestigious school, any grade at or below the range of a C is relatively rare and treated seriously.
At the time I was the only international student that I knew of, and all of my peers were completely adapted to such a lifestyle. In summary, I was probably more stressed than any already unstable 13-year-old should really be. Nothing has changed since then, but 5 years is enough time to get used to the environment, and I have been able to see and appreciate the kind of person that this has molded me to be.
I have seen and experienced a lot of things, and I like to think that it has given me a more objective perspective on some things that are happening in society today, and the ability to form some pretty well-rounded opinions.
This is a place that I will consider as my little electronic diary of sorts. Firstly because I type much more quickly than I write and I will be able to say more without getting distracted. As someone who does not generally talk about their feelings to people very often, (one phrase that I have heard to describe me is "an emotionless robot") this may become slightly therapeutic seeing as I definitely have a lot of thoughts swimming around my head.
Secondly, my hand-writing looks like a pre-developed form of chicken scratch.
So, internet. The contents of my head now belong to you. Because everyone always needs more teenage angst in their lives.