English Language/Literature personal statement

Since the age of 12, I have read my books mostly in English and watched movies without Finnish subtitles. Being able to understand languages other than my native one has been my passport to countless adventures and experiences that might otherwise have been inaccessible. English, the modern lingua franca, was always the most crucial of these languages and thus the centre of my curricular attention.

While there are presumably numerous advantages in having an Anglophile bookworm as a mother, in my case I’d say that the first and foremost is the easy access to a fine collection of world’s literary treasures. Having been ensured a steady diet of both fact and fiction since an early age, I quickly developed into an avid, near-omnivorous reader with a dangerously vivid imagination bent on producing characters and stories on a daily basis. Consequently, books are not only my favourite pastime and a source of both information and inspiration, but also my ultimate goal in life, for I aspire to become an author myself. The way I see it, literature is the only subject with no real boundaries; it is life in a nutshell. I rejoice in the diversity of material and the endless possibilities literature offers to readers and writers alike.

My studies at the upper secondary school have been rather language oriented. The advanced course in English has given me the chance to refine my grammar and to further extend my vocabulary in some modern areas not even extensive reading could cover. As Germanic languages, Swedish and German have both in their own way complemented my English studies – and fed my extra-curricular obsession with etymology! The course in Finnish has greatly improved my analytical skills and critical approach to texts as well as granted me access to two special course units that I completed largely independently: the World Literature Diploma and Creative Writing. The former has considerably broadened my literary horizons, while the latter allowed me to practice different styles and genres and then receive direct feedback of my writing. My courses in history and religion, on the other hand, have helped me to get more out of literature; to understand the complex web of themes, allusions and mind-sets literature presents. As my literary preferences include the 19th century English classics and epic poetry, this kind of context has been vital.

Through my experience as a summer worker at the City Library of Lieksa I had the chance to participate in both organising and carrying out a series of public events at the children’s department, which has greatly enhanced my people skills and ability to co-operate as well as to deal with responsibility. Also the annual family holidays abroad have benefited me by allowing me to continually test my language skills in practice and eventually rendering me confident enough to consider studying in the UK; in a culture I have felt drawn to ever since I was a little girl.

Most of my spare time is governed by novels, writing, observing and activities such as walks in the woods and listening to music. I also enjoy visual arts and sketch a little myself. As a sport I find swimming especially rewarding from the creative point of view, since it represents an environment with minimal distractions and thus a perfect opportunity for thinking, which is a fundamental part of my life. In that respect at least, I am like Mary Garth, a character from George Eliot’s “Middlemarch”, who was “fond of her own thoughts, and could amuse herself well sitting in twilight with her hands in her lap”. The antonym of a jack of all trades, I prefer to devote myself to a few things I truly care about rather than maintain a legion of hobbies. While I do not consider myself a perfectionist, I have never understood the point of leaving things halfway done either. As a Finn, I take great pride in my backbone and when I do take up something, I am prepared to work for it both hard and relentlessly.

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This personal statement was written by EyepatchOwl for application in 2014.

EyepatchOwl's Comments

Given my subject, I felt that as an international subject I had an extra reason to try to demonstrate both my competence and my genuine enthusiasm. It was kind of weird for me to have to write a text that was entirely built around me, and I confess I felt a little uncomfortable about it. Where I come from (ie. the forest), one is thought egoistic for far less. Or so the bears tell me.

In any case, I am satisfied enough with my statement, and even if I wasn't, I would still have to acknowledge that it has served its purpose by securing me a place from the University of Glasgow. (I also received offers from Dundee and Aberdeen, but not from Edinburgh.)

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