European Studies/Modern Language Personal Statement
"The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." Although Wittgenstein was in this case expounding his deterministic philosophy, one can change the context and his statement is a reminder that reaching out to a different language also opens up a different culture, a different history, a different way of thinking about things.
As an avid historian, I am fascinated by the European machine, the political manoeuverings, and the ways in which its turbulent past shape the modern-day boundaries of language, culture and commerce.
From this point of view I am also acutely aware that no study of language is complete without knowledge of the events that shaped it, from the wars that ripped Renaissance Italy apart, to the Risorgimento, to Berlusconi era - and everything in between.
Having studied French and German, I have developed a love of language, and feel that learning Italian would be the key to unlocking the rich culture and history of the country. I have already visited many of Italy's treasures from Giotto's legendary frescoes in Assisi, to the time capsule that is Venice and relish the challenge of immersing myself in this and more at university.
I believe I have the ability to take on a language as an ab initio candidate: in September I received the Sixth Form Modern Foreign Language award, reflecting my talent and my affinity for languages.
I am keen to communicate with people of my age (and others) across Europe and the world, and subscribe to a website through which I have meet several students with whom I can practise speaking other languages.
Technology has been invaluable in developing my awareness of the European landscape, allowing me to subscribe to newspaper websites such as Le Monde, download content from the BBC's Italian Steps site, and regularly take in other German media in relation to schoolwork.
Learning Italian ab initio would, of course, take dedication, and in my school career, I have demonstrated diligence and commitment.
This includes being part of the Senior Prefect Team, involved in supporting the running of the school, and planning and organising events. I am also a polished performer, from being MC for last year's school talent show, to leading the string section for school productions and concerts with my violin.
In addition, I have engaged in a number of Sixth Form Pantomimes, most recently taking the role of Scrooge in last year's adaptation of A Christmas Carol.
I have a love of music, both in terms of performance and of theoretical study. As well as playing the violin for the past eight years, I have taught myself to play the guitar, mandolin, ukulele, and cello.
I am a strong musical composer and have written songs as part of my musical study as well as for pleasure, once combining my love of stand-up comedy with music by winning a school talent show in 2008 as part of a guitar/mandolin double-act. Last year, I entered the composers' class of the local Mary Wakefield music festival, and won with a string orchestra piece.
While in Venice I was also able to make a day trip out of my interest in Vivaldi at the Museo della Musica. The city (and the country as a whole) has, on top of everything else, a strong musical tradition, which only makes the prospect more attractive to me.
Given this success, I originally applied to university to study music last year, despite my comparatively modest performance ability, and the need to achieve Grade 5 piano within a year.
This was not entirely realistic and the time commitment it required, as well as a number of personal issues, meant that I did not achieve as highly in June as I or my teachers feel I should have. After much reflection, I have re-focused on languages and cultures, an area where I have a lot to offer, and where I am keen to learn.
I hope that the seriousness of my intent is clear now that my goals are better-founded, and I am determined to achieve my fullest potential this year.
This went by a panel of parents, staff, and other relatives, and is approximately 70% similar to what I initially came up with. Frankly I don't love it but it seems polished-er than what I could put out. Moreover it seems to have done the job :D