Everyone always says that going traveling will help you find your purpose. They exclaim that adapting to new environments builds confidence. They claim that the entire experience becomes an asset that you can draw upon for the rest of your life.
Honestly, I couldn’t agree more.
It was because of an understanding of my privileged position in the world that I decided to go to college. It was because of the new perspectives I gained that I knew exactly what I wanted to study. It was because of my travel story that I got in.
Whether you’re trying to illustrate to your parents the value of travel or trying to harness your past travels towards your academic career or a new job, check out my college application essay below.
What is your intended major? Discuss how your interest in the subject developed and describe any experience you have had in the field – such as volunteer work, internships and employment, participation in student organizations and activities- and what you have gained from your involvement.
First, I would like to say that this program, Global Studies, is tremendous. For the past year I have habitually visited the website and read every aspect of it many times over. As I am reading the course descriptions and what the alumni are now doing, I am filled with excitement and know that this is something I will love and subsequently excel at. Furthermore, as vain as this may sound, I can think of no better candidate for this study then myself. From my multicultural heritage to my unconventional but highly rewarding travels in Europe and the Middle East, I am not only one who is culturally open minded but one who will bring first hand experience into class discussions and add to the global studies community at the University Of California Santa Barbara.
While globalization has reduced the infrequency of multi ethnic offspring, it still remains a unique trait and one which has provided me with a broad humanistic outlook. My Mother was born in Japan, the daughter of an Irish American serving in WWII and a Japanese mother. My Father was born in Norway, son of two Norse parents. Both ended up as leads in A Chorus Line, on Broadway, and created me and my younger sister. A prime example of the “American Melting pot.” The final score, ¼ Irish ¼ Japanese and ½ Norwegian. From Japanese cuisine, the etiquette which I observe through my grandmother Obachan and my random Buddhist lessons departed by my great uncle Bonchan, Japanese culture is an essential part of my life.
On the other hand, I have acquired strong Norsk nationalism through countless holidays with my grandmother Bestamore, snaking on Royk Laks, while she bestowed upon me her Lutheran ideals. All in all, a professional would say I’m an American with an identity crisis. On a serious note, my innate cultural pluralism has enabled me to better understand and see all people as siblings, connected beings, and has left me always searching for new cultures in which to enrich my life.
The multicultural suburban community that I grew up in presented me with an opportunity to indulge my fascination with peoples of different upbringing. In high school I focused most of my attention on world history and was a member of the Multicultural Club. I would often dream away math classes studying the miniature map of the world found in our homework organizer, imagining the different landscapes and peoples. My international heritage and society in which I developed all contributed to my fearless desire to explore and experience the world, just as my countryman and favorite explorer, Leif Erikson had done 1000 years before me.
However, instead of discovering the America, I would discover Europe and later the Middle East. Following High school, I took my backpack, my wits and my spirit and was off on the road less traveled. As I had no money, I hitch hiked, jumped trains and often slept in parks or on benches. Food came from kind restaurant owners throwing out leftovers at closing time and dumpsters behind supermarkets containing goods only a few days past their expiration. I visited nearly every European country over the course of around 6 months. I gained a sort of European perspective few have encountered. Every new country I entered, sublimity crept into my spine creating euphoric goosebumbs. Such different lifestyles and people translated into infinite inner possibility. The more I saw the more I wanted to see and the more I learned, I realized how little I knew. I gained an enormous wealth of experience and knowledge, which has influenced my outlook daily.
When I left the western world and entered the extreme unknowns of the Middle East, theses feelings increased exponentially. Although fears did plague my conscience as the media and western culture had left me confused about what to expect from this region, I entered with an open mind. However, the moment I stepped out of the train station in Istanbul, I fell in love with the place. Countless people offered me tea and asked if I was hungry, a theme which continued throughout my stay in this intriguing land. In Syria, a man named Atif from Canada who was studying Islam in Damascus offered me two weeks lodging in his apartment as well as food. He bought me a haircut, Muslim attire, a prayer mat and beads. It was with him that I experienced and partook in Muslim prayer at a mosque.
Next, I worked in a Hotel in Amman for one month. This job provided further insight into Muslim life and the language of Arabic. Finally, experiencing Ramadan in Cairo was by far the most enlightening. For one month, the entire city including my self would fast during the day. At the moment the sun descended beneath the horizon, the call to prayer would sound and tables and chairs where erected like dominos in reverse. Each day, the richest men of Cairo catered food for the masses, a concept so generous I could hardly believe. I also spent time in Israel, attending temple for the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I heard the views of Israelis towards their Arab neighbors and vice versa. Perspectives and insights such as these gave greater depth to what I had learned in text books and through the news, giving me an understanding few my age could fathom. I was 16.
I have since continued to fulfill my wanderlust during breaks in my academic career. The year after, I spent three months discovering Eastern Europe and the year after that, I traveled through India, Nepal and Thailand for six months.
My interest in global studies commenced through my culturally diverse background, and continued through my expeditions of Europe the Middle East and beyond. They will persist as long as my travel bug remains, there is mystery to be uncovered and knowledge to obtain. I see my future as a great opportunity to build on all my experiences so far. I will continue to surround myself with different cultures, and educate myself with the intent on better understanding the world we live in. I greatly desire to continue preparing for my life of travels and studies by attending UCSB’s Global Studies program.
With this application letter I was accepted to UCSB. There I dedicated myself to the Global Studies major, graduated a year early with a 3.8 GPA, and even got Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autograph. I owe much of this success to myriad life experiences and knowledge gained through travel.
Travel can inspire, build confidence, help you find new purpose, and equip you with some stories that you’re definitely not going to want to tell your parents about. Take a gap year, study abroad in high school, or train through Europe this summer. It’s a decision you won’t regret for the rest of your life, I guarantee it.
Let Me Know What You Think!
Amazing story. I think about myself at 16 and how I definitely would not be able to travel the world like you did, being a small girl. I spent 6 weeks in Lago de Atitlan, Guatemala last summer, and now I have the travel bug. Going back this summer to do research and explore what I missed, with a quick pit stop in Honduras! Anyhow, glad to know there are people who truly care about the cultural experience like myself!
The Runaway Guide says
Hey Emily, thats awesome! I love the lake and heading back there in Oct!