Friday, September 16, 2011

250 Words or Less

This is extremely strange to be trying to write these essays again. I remember last year, writing one essay over and over again, trying to put the words exactly right, getting it to come across as I had it in my head. I needed it to be heartfelt, and not too sappy, and it needed to be well thought through and intelligent, but not forced and fake. I was trying really hard, but I meant to be trying really hard. I wanted it to come out right.

And now I'm sitting here again, exactly one year later, staring at the same essay, with the same box, on the same website. "What are three reasons you want to study abroad? Explain in less than 250 words." Before, it was hard enough to keep it that short, with everything I wanted to say. But I'm not even sure it's possible to put everything I want to say in that few of words anymore, especially after this summer. How do I put my host family, our late night talks about politics and religion, our attempts at Chicago style pizza 6,000 miles away from the source, and our walks around the neighborhood, how am I supposed to put that in 250 words or less? Then there's the taxi cab drivers, their exasperation with my Arabic some days, and their delight at my effort on others; there's the cab driver who changed my life when he explained to me that you had to be thankful for life and use it, and not just sit there. There's the neighbors who played soccer in the abandoned lot next to my apartment, and there's the little boys who laughed and giggled when we played with them one day. There's the roof of our apartment, a place to go to sit and see the city, to eat and talk, to sing and get married. There's the day three door handles in our apartment came off, and it took ten minutes to explain what our problem was in Arabic. Then there's when we were leaving, getting on the bus to go to the airport, and the men from the apartment ushered us back into the lobby one last time, to get their one last picture, so proud that we had stayed with them, in their building. How I am supposed to put that into 250 words or less? Because that's the reason I want to study abroad.

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