A defining moment in my life occurred about two years ago. I left my high school in Hong Kong and came to the United States to finish my secondary education as an international student in New York. I left my parents, my home, my friends, and my language in order to experience a foreign culture and broaden the scope of my education and view of life. Whenever I try to think or write about my life my autobiography I always settle upon the importance of this move, this shift from Eastern to Western perspective.

Anyone who has crossed the globe to visit or live in a foreign country has without a doubt had some amount of culture shock, and it is both jarring and exhilarating to find yourself changing in such a new environment. My new location has brought about an awareness that I don’t think ever would have appeared if I had stayed put in Hong Kong. Through the contrasts and differences I have observed and felt in my environmental switch, I have become very conscious of and interested in communication and language.

Of course, I was interested in communication and language while still in Hong Kong, where I was president of my high school debate club, excelled in my study of Mandarin Chinese, and was the conductor of student singing at assemblies and a member of the competitive band (I think music is a form of communication too). However, it was not until I left my language behind that I became aware of the power and importance of this aspect of life. Upon my arrival in New York, I initially struggled with English, but after one short year, I progressed from the ESL level and joined regular English classes. I gained confidence in my English, especially in my written work. During this time, I also began studying Japanese. In a way, my study here has allowed me to see the huge importance of language in a persons cultural identity and in the strength of a society. By studying Japanese while at the same time progressing in English, I think this helped keep my Eastern perspective, my native Chinese identity, in my mind. It seems easy to get lost in the culture of the United States and also in the culture of New York, but my grip on language made it easier to avoid losing myself and my roots.

My education in New York has allowed me to find so many new aspects of my self, my cultures (my two cultures of East and West), and my languages. My time here has also allowed me to see how each of these aspects relates to the others. Because of the rewards I have already gained, I hope to continue my education here. I am particularly drawn to Vassar College for a number of reasons. I want to stay in New York, near my guardian and younger brother. I also feel that Vassar’s size is ideal. Your student-faculty ratio of 12 to 1 is a very important advantage for me, and I think I would benefit immensely from such focused academic study.

Finally, an undergraduate place at Vassar would allow me to experience a true liberal arts education in arts and sciences, because I think the undergraduate years should be spent on a broad amount of subject matter. I am currently enrolled in AP physics and AP computer science courses, and I hope to continue to pursue study in the natural sciences and in computer science (which is very important wherever you are in the world today). In addition, study at Vassar will allow my interest in languages and communication to flourish and grow. I want to learn more in the field of foreign language, especially Chinese and Japanese. I am also interested in Vassar’s B.A. in Communication program, and I am particularly interested in the areas of Public Relations and/or Speech Communication. I would love to take courses through this department, for example, courses like Interpersonal Communications, Intercultural Communications, and Communications Theory. I may want to explore communication as it relates to computer science and technology as well.

Vassar University has all the opportunities I am looking for in continuing my education, developing my identity, and contributing culturally and academically. I hope the language here, the written words of English of this essay, have enough power to communicate my desire and readiness to attend Vassar and excel there.