Chinese Personal Statement (Mature Student)

A personal statement applying for a Chinese degree as a mature student, covering their previous qualifications and experience.

The Chinese language is an art form both metaphorically, as the backbone of some of the world's most beautiful poetry, and literally, with calligraphy forming the basis of a visual culture that has dominated East Asia for millennia. I am fascinated both by the history of Mandarin Chinese and its modern usage as the most widely spoken first language in the world. Chinese culture is something I have a great interest in, its rich visual history as well as the literature of past and present, and I believe that without study of the language, it is impossible to fully appreciate this broad and diverse country.

From fourteen, I was self-educated after Chronic Fatigue Syndrome forced me to leave formal education. My mother encouraged my interests, providing me with books and other educational resources despite our limited income. She had been a teacher, although due to my care requirements she was no longer able to work, and so she devoted herself to my unconventional education, taking me on frequent trips to museums and galleries in the area whenever my health allowed. I believe that my alternative education, and the passion for learning my mother instilled within me, has been a tremendous asset. From a young age, I was able to pursue a wide variety of subjects that interested me. As a teenager, I became fascinated by art and its histories, both the western tradition, and more widely. By my mid-twenties my health had reached a stage where I was once again able to seriously consider formal education. I decided to pursue a love of art history further and enrolled in the Open University to study for a degree in the subject. In 2015, I began the first module in the subject, which was entitled The Arts Past and Present, and in 2016 was awarded a distinction for my work.
In 2016 I enrolled on the Open University module Beginner's Chinese as I had always had an interest in the language and enjoyed studying other cultures. This reignited my passion for the subject and I found that for the first time I was interested in studying a subject not merely to become proficient in it, but because I found great enjoyment in the process of learning. Soon I realised that I was spending hours reading about the language, practicing the writing of characters and the usage of grammar, going far beyond the standard requirements of the course, all for my interest, fuelled by my passions. This emergent zealous study made me realise that I wished for Chinese language and culture to be the focus of my educational career from this point onwards. I experienced significant initial success in this venture, having to date scored 99% and 95% in my comprehension and speaking tests respectively.

After completing a degree in Chinese, I intend to combine knowledge of the Chinese language and my interest in art by working in a museum or gallery with an East Asian department. I believe that linguistic knowledge would be of huge benefit towards this career as I would be able to liaise with collectors and galleries throughout China. I believe that it is of enormous importance for galleries and museums to place non-European art on the same standing as the Old Masters, especially in the twenty-first century as we learn to look at the past from a global perspective. I would also like to teach Chinese within the United Kingdom as it becomes a language of global importance.

Beyond studying, my main interest is reading, as I enjoy a wide spectrum of literature and non-fiction. I also enjoy visiting museums and galleries, tasting and cooking world cuisine and watching non-English language (predominantly East Asian) television and films. My hobbies reflect a deep interest in the world outside of my own sphere, as I hope to absorb as much of different cultures as is possible from my position. This interest and my unconventional education are what set me apart as a student, as I am passionate and determined to overcome the obstacles that have been presented to me in my life.

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Author's Comments

I had offers from all five choices - two from SOAS, two from Sheffield and one from Leeds.

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