Personal statement feedback

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Report Thread starter 7 years ago

I wondered if anyone could give me some feedback on my personal statement. I'm applying for Modern & Medieval Languages (German and Russian ab initio) at Cambridge and German & Russian from scratch at (I think) St Andrew's, Edinburgh, Exeter and somewhere else.

I've been told that it's not very personal - which is probably true I think - and that I should cut down on the literature. I'm not a huge literary fan - I'm more interested in the actual language, in linguistics and in the country's history, so would it be all right if I focused more on those than on literature? I was also told to have a sizable amount on literature even though that won't be the main focus of my degree.

I appreciate help from anyone with Oxbridge or language experience since these are the primary focuses - anyone else is welcome to give an opinion (:

Thank you!


Despite widespread encryption, there is a universal mechanism for cracking into any society, one transferable access code: their language. With precise analytical technique refined through studies in two classical languages, I am interested in the structure and formation of language, developed further by discovering Mandarin through school enrichment sessions. In a world of omnipresent diplomatic tensions, cultural understanding is a vital prerequisite for the maintenance of effective relations, evident from the Juncker affair. As an aspiring military officer or diplomat, I am determined to attain fluency in both German and a new language, Russian; monolingualism is not a possibility for me. I honed my analytical skills in History, whilst with Physics AS I accessed scientific methodology, mathematical precision and a wider worldly understanding.
Due to my belief in promoting cultural understanding, I am a Youth Ambassador with the UK-German Connection, and have established school societies for basic language instruction and cultural exchange to this end. In my Extended Project, concerning Abwehr resistance to the National Socialist regime, I studied the nucleus of a clandestine cult of military honour and ethics, improving my German language research skills and critical analysis during months of independent study in a thrilling topic. Although sometimes offensive, „Er Ist Wieder Da“ provoked me to consider how the Nazi period is dealt with today. I enjoyed the methodical and precise political allegory in Böll's „Die Verlorene Ehre von Katharina Blum“, and the dissembling of bias amidst beautifully precise language in Schiller's „Maria Stuart“. I was highly commended in the 2014 Oxford German Olympiad for a short story about Ludwig III of Bavaria, wherein I condensed his thought processes regarding the start of the First World War.
In 2006 the secretive web of intrigue surrounding Litvinenko's death awakened me to the continued strained relations between Russia and the West, and through „Blowing Up Russia“ I was astounded at the extent to which the security service apparently have infiltrated Russia. The craving for the silnaya ruka hailing from the Mongol invasion, about which I read in Sixsmith's „Russia“, has led to a destabilisation of democracy and as such Russian remains vital for global communication despite the end of the Cold War. In reading Chekhov's short stories I especially appreciated the social commentary of „Ward No. 6“ , and using Figes' books to analyse Gorky's „My Childhood“ enabled me to live amongst the societal strata alien to „Anna Karenina“. I enjoyed analysing Medtner's „Bird's Tale“ for socio-political nuances whilst studying it on the pianoforte.
As Politics Editor for a sixth form blog which I co-founded, I have conducted interviews with well-known personalities such as Nick Clegg and Rob Brydon, showing my adaptability, analytical capability and communication skills, as well as writing well-received articles for both this and my own analytical blog. In sessions for my Year 5 History Club, I bettered my public confidence, organisation and communication skills. Through organising a commemoration concert for the First World War centenary I have improved my co-operation, time management and leadership skills, further fortified by the Duke of Edinburgh Gold award, which required intense mental motivation and determination. Work experience at RAF Odiham was an invaluable experience of co-operative, technical and demanding work, whilst at an independent wine merchant I worked within ever-changing governmental contraints, experiencing the drive to modernise yet stay harmonised with traditional values. I am working towards Grade 7 trombone and Grade 8 pianoforte, and have performed in several ensembles.
Studying languages will satisfy my desire to fully understand the reasons for future crises, and hopefully provide me with the tools to do something about them.
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Report 7 years ago
Don't post your personal statement online! Seriously. Anyone could copy it.

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