University of California - Santa Barbara
Describe your favorite academic subject and explain how it has influenced you.
When I moved from China to the Philippines during my sophomore year, my world turned upside down. Instead of ancient Chinese classics, Chinese geography, and Chinese history, I studied Shakespeare, geography, and U.S. history. In China, catching up to these humanities classes was largely possible because the Chinese education system emphasized memorization rather than critical analysis. However, when faced with such a large gap in cultural and historical references, I found it very difficult to fare the “slings and arrows of my outrageous fortune.”
Such a quandary, however, was not without a solution. Instead of opposing my two binaries—China and what was not China—I focused on what remained constant and found solace in Math and Chemistry. When I encountered familiar equations and symbols, it felt as if I had found the lost key to the Tower of Babel. Without translation, I knew how to appreciate the undulating waves on the chart expressing the ideal gas law, the precision with which p-orbitals enveloped the x-y-z axes, and the Rosetta stone upon which life has sprung: the Periodic Table.
After a year or two of adjusting to an international school in the Philippines, I eventually grew comfortable with the humanities. My English...
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