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The Cheerful Mongrel That I Am: College Admission Essay Sample

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Thanks to the hundreds of different stories my relatives have told me, I have heard every side of the Yugoslav war and the fall of communism. Every side. On top of having a sense of these different perspectives, I have learned many interesting customs along the way: when to kiss someone twice, thrice and even four times on the cheek, when to talk to women and when not to because of their different religious beliefs, what words are unacceptable in each country and dozens of other fascinating customs.

A New Yorker by birth and a Kosovar by name, I grew up in Romania, where I was exposed to poverty, racism towards gypsies and a very different culture than that in the U.S. I know a lot about European history, not only from books, movies or history class, but also from my parents and grandparents in Romania and the former Yugoslavia. Since I spend most of my vacations travelling, I have been to Europe dozens of times and am familiar with the geography and culture of many European countries.

I have been lucky enough to not only visit, but also be a part of, several very different cultures thanks to my family. In a nutshell, after having had three stepparents, I have developed a special bond with the Romanian, Kosovar, Austrian, Croatian, British, Irish, Bosnian, Serbian and French cultures. It does get confusing at times, I admit. That, however, doesn’t stop me from feeling that unique connection to these peoples and their cultures. I may not have an Austrian name or a British accent, but I can understand more German than the average New Yorker, and I happen to be a die-hard fan of a London-based soccer club, Arsenal.

Through this life journey of mine, my parents have been very supportive. They’ve helped me to better understand where I come from and have provided me with valuable life lessons; one of these being that if I don’t have anything meaningful to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. From their insightful words of wisdom, as well as from my personal experience, I have learned that even if I do have something worth saying, I have to be careful how I say it; unknowingly, I can easily offend many people due to their different backgrounds. After all, how am I supposed to know where each new person I meet is from? The simple answer to that is just to ask them, right? It’s easier said than done, because in order to ask them, I need to know what language to ask them in, and if I should say I am Romanian, Kosovar or American. For example, speaking Serbian to a Kosovar or telling a Serbian that I am Kosovar could get me in some trouble because of the unsettled conflict between these countries.

Even if I do find myself in difficult situations at times, I am still very proud of my Kosovar, Romanian and American roots. Some people say I must face an identity crisis, since, wherever I go, I never quite seem to be from there. I, however, don’t generally label myself as belonging to a certain culture because not only am I the outcome of an unusual European mix, but I am also blessed to have lived and studied in the most diverse multi-ethnic environments: New York City and the United Nations International School. This rare mix, this cheerful mongrel, this is who I am outside the realm of SATs and transcripts; and wherever this amazing journey may take me, I am convinced my heritage will always guide me to see the world from different perspectives.

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