Oxford PPE Personal Statement - International Student
I have always been curious and inquisitive. So, I read. In books I found answers to most of my questions. But, most importantly, I found new ones. This laid the groundwork for my passion for Philosophy. Indeed, Philosophy is one of the few subjects where questions are perhaps more important than answers. Questioning is the essence of philosophical thought. In Philosophy there were no wrong questions, and, for some philosophers, not even wrong answers (at least, not fully justifiable ones). Philosophy, especially Political Philosophy, led me to Politics. Studying philosophers like Plato, Machiavelli, Locke, Hobbes, Stuart Mill or Rawls, amongst many others, made me question the way we conceive power, liberty, justice, government or our political system.
With time, I also found another one of my passions: Mathematics, especially when applied to day-to-day life in subjects such as Physics or, most importantly, Economics. I’ve always loved the challenge in Mathematics, the feeling that the answer is there, and all one needs to find it is to think, to employ logic and use the analytical skills Mathematics itself develops. My own way of looking at the world has been shaped by this, as my thought process became more and more analytical. When I combined this enthusiasm with my interest for the world around me, and especially considering my interest in Politics, I became quite eager to study Economics, causing me to read and learn any way I could.
I have won and participated in many local, regional and national contests, representing my school and my region many times. Just two examples: I was my school’s representative at INOVA: Idea Contest, an entrepreneurship competition, where I reached the finals, earning an entrepreneurship internship with some of the top businessmen and women of Portugal in 2015; and, in 2018, I participated in the National Philosophy Olympiads, winning one of the side contests, the Philosophical Quiz. I was also one of the three students chosen to travel to Sicily as part of the Erasmus + programme in 2018. It was an unforgettable experience, where we had the opportunity to discuss our ideas for the future of the EU with colleagues with different nationalities, backgrounds and cultures.
Apart from the entrepreneurship internship discussed above, I have taken part in several summer programmes and been selected to various internships at Universities and research centres. In 2017 I was accepted at a summer course at the University of Coimbra, Portugal’s oldest university, where I studied International Relations, particularly the Syrian Civil War and its origins, current geopolitical situation and its consequences, especially in regard to the refugees caused by the conflict. I found this course extremely interesting, in particular the classes on geopolitics, where we studied the various groups taking part in the conflict, in what is a very complex situation often over-simplified on the media. This course definitely turned what was already an interest into a definitive passion, as global politics have captivated my attention, leading me to research some more and to read works such as “Prisoners of Geography”, by Tim Marshall, which I found remarkably compelling, and which allowed me to see more clearly into the motive for Russia’s aggressive stance towards Ukraine and Poland, for instance, or China’s recent naval expansion.
During the summer of 2018 I had the opportunity to be selected for an internship at the University of Évora’s Cultural and Heritage Studies centre. During this week I worked in several projects, helping the researchers and learning from them. I went to the ruins of a Roman temple to study the mortar and the stones used for its construction, I collaborated in identifying Egyptian scarabs from Phoenician fakes, I studied the different tinctures used for the dyeing of Portuguese typical rugs (“tapetes de Arraiolos”), amongst many other things.
The same summer I studied at Nova School of Business and Economics’ Summer School, which was also an amazing experience. I had the chance to study modern, useful concepts with some of Portugal’s best professors in this area. I found the classes on Macro and Micro-Economics and Finance the most interesting, with Micro-Economics particularly being quite surprising. We studied rather recent concepts, such as “two-sided markets” and “network effects”, which none of us had ever heard of before. This summer school built upon my early fascination with economics as a theoretical discipline, connecting it with the more common, everyday aspect of economics.
Some of my additional interest are music, reading and writing in general, and student government. I have played violin for eight years now, having been to three orchestra internships and having concluded what is the equivalent of 9th grade (what is known in Portugal as Ensino Básico) in Music. I have been Leader of the Second Violins for my conservatory’s orchestra and I have concluded a 20 hour course which covered Musical History and Analysis of pieces from the 10th to the 21st century. Music is now a fundamental part of my life, and it has taught me much, from self-discipline and leadership to teamwork and an entirely new way of looking at the world.
I have written for an international, online publication named “The Youth Journal”, having contributed with articles about geopolitics, particularly in the Middle-East (Armenia and Kurdistan), the environment (overfishing) and science and technology (the new space race). This has definitively enhanced my researching and communication skills, providing me with experience in an international journalism setting.
Regarding student government, I was part of my Student’s Union administration and am now running for President of the Student Assembly (essentially the Assembly’s Speaker), and I have been either my class’ representative or deputy representative for most of my school career (currently I am my class’ representative). I am also running to be my school’s MP in the National Youth Parliament.
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