Travel/Immigration Updated Final Draft - HELP PLEASE

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Anonymous User
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Travel/Immigration Updated Final Draft - HELP PLEASE

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Dec 11, 2016 10:53 pm

Please see my post below.
Last edited by Anonymous User on Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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BlendedUnicorn

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Re: Please Review My Travel/Immigration PS

Postby BlendedUnicorn » Mon Dec 12, 2016 1:24 am

Anonymous User wrote:I'm about to lose my mind, I've written and re-written and re-written again x10000, but I think I'm maybe happy with this. Or at least I need to be because I need to turn in my applications ASAP. For some background, I'm a splitter trying to show how this experience changed me/made me grow up, and also how it gave me direction as to what kind of law I'm interested in. Does that come through in my PS or should I add something to emphasize it more?

I think this is a little too long still, so any editing advice is much appreciated. I know that the whole travel/work abroad thing is a little overdone, but hopefully this isn't too trite/cliche. Notes on tone/formality also appreciated. Thanks!

[+] Spoiler
I like to think of myself as a cynical optimist. Others might call me crazy or delusional. It’s all a matter of opinion. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of the difficulties that accompany a transatlantic move. As a history major, I had done enough research to fill a book, and I knew very wellthat there would be obstacles both bureaucratic and cultural as well as a language barrier. The cynic in me was screaming that I was being stupid for all the aforementioned reasons. But the optimist in me had faith I would be alright because hadn’t I always figured things out and adapted in the past? Okay, so the optimist in me is kind of an idiot, but it wasn’t wrong either. This was a long-held dream of mine, only like with most other things, I had always allowed self-doubt and a fear of failure to hold me back. Ultimately, the decision to move to France came down to whether I was willing to bet on myself. I chose to take that bet.

For someone afraid of failing, moving to a foreign country is an admittedly odd choice. I failed hard and regularly, often multiple times a day. I had always been hesitant to speak in public, whether in French or just voicing my opinion, because I was afraid of being judged by others. In France, I had to get over that and open myself up to embarrassment in front of everyone from the cashier at the neighborhood patisserie to the principal of my school if I wanted to ever get anything done. It was difficult and intimidating, and I often felt foolish, but I plunged onwards. I learned how meaningful small gestures of kindness that cost nothing can be, a smile or a moment of compassion carrying me through another tough day. In failing constantly but persevering, I improved greatly in both my French and as a person.

Because I was in Paris, my experience is romanticized and seems very bohemian and glamorous, but let’s call a spade a spade – I was a member of the working poor. For the first time in my life, I was truly independent, with no safety net to rely on. I lived paycheck to paycheck in a tiny seventh floor walkup, barely making ends meet after paying rent and utilities, hardly having enough to pay for my phone bill, metro card, and groceries, often forced to dip into what paltry savings I had. I took a second job as an au pair, which while not technically allowed was commonly overlooked by the prefecture because they knew it was impossible to live on our salaries. I relied on government housing assistance that took seven months, a mountain of red tape, countless visits to my local CAF office, and becoming something of an expert on benefits regulations to finally receive. Not to mention the long and complicated process to finalize my visa that required about five copies of every government document ever issued, translated and notarized, and endless hours in grim, fluorescently-lit waiting rooms. So, while my year in Paris is one I do not regret, one that involved lots of good, cheap wine on the banks of the Seine, watching the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower, and eating my weight in baguettes, it was also an incredibly stressful year in which I became all too familiar with bureaucratic red tape, often feeling very alone, frustrated and afraid.

When an American moves to Paris for any length of time, we are called expats, but what we really are is immigrants. In immigrating to Paris, I learned to appreciate the daily struggle that is living in a foreign country, where something as mundane as going to the grocery store can be a source of anxiety and stress. I experienced a taste of the loneliness and isolation that can accompany a move such as this, and I knew that I was leaving. I can’t even imagine how it feels to try to build a new life in a country that seems to resent your very existence. After returning to America, I sought opportunities to become involved with refugee families, to help them get settled and navigate the process of integrating themselves into American life. I also realized that the paperwork I dealt with in France had nothing on the endless forms with which immigrants to the United States must contend, the suspicion and distrust with which many are viewed.

From the moment I used my somewhat broken Mandarin Chinese to translate for a woman in the French immigration office, who later thanked me profusely while insisting I accept a bag of oranges, a sign of good fortune in Chinese culture, I realized how much of a positive impact I could have in the lives of good people seeking a better life. As the child of immigrant parents who are in many ways the embodiment of the American Dream, who have worked hard and been successful, who have given their children a better life, I believe deeply in the dream that brought them to this great nation and I want to help pay it forward. I think that pursuing a legal degree will allow me to better accomplish this goal. Choosing to drop everything and move to France was scary and risky, but I chose to bet on myself because I know that I am smart and capable. I only hope that you will listen to the optimist in you, and take a chance on me.


Cut way down on superfluous language. For example, you call yourself a "cynical optimist" in the first line and then the theme the rest of the way through has nothing to do with your cynicism. Which is good, because that's probably not something you want to draw attention to. Reread every sentence- every word- and ask yourself if you need it. Focus the piece more on a: your experience in France and b: how that experience translates to your interest in immigration law.

e. I only struck lines in the first paragraph. I think the rest of the piece is better, but still needs to be more focused.

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Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: Please Review My Travel/Immigration PS

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Dec 19, 2016 9:18 pm

Okay, I've edited and re-edited ad nauseum and I keep deleting but then adding more. I think I'm too close to it. I am naturally wordy AF and bad at being objective about my own writing, but I tried - I really did. It's currently exactly two pages double-spaced 11pt Garamond (is that formatting acceptable?). I think I'm finally happy with it, or as happy as I'll ever be at least, and ready to submit. But before I do, I need fresh eyes please!

Should I cut anything?
Is what I have effective?
Are the anecdotes/details helpful or just unnecessary?
Anything grammar or style-related is also welcome. I know I tend to use super long sentences but hopefully they're not confusingly so.
...Is it terrible? :?

Basically, just please HELP ME before I lose my mind. Much appreciated.

[+] Spoiler
Sympathetically, I waited as a flustered American woman searched for some centimes to purchase a plastic bag and hastily bag her purchases, normal in Paris but new to her. As an Asian-American, Parisians generally assumed I was just Asian, so the cashier felt free to loudly gripe about dumb amerloques (a French pejorative for Americans) all being so fat and demanding, too lazy to bag their groceries. The old me would have stayed silent: instead, I smiled at him after paying, playing up my accent as I thanked him in French for his understanding towards us Americans before turning to leave. Later that night, I could just make out the tip of the Eiffel Tower shining brightly from my window, and reminded myself why I chose to move halfway across the world. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of the difficulties that would entail; as a history major, I’d done enough research to fill a book, but the optimist in me had faith I would be alright. This was a long-cherished dream of mine, only I had always allowed self-doubt and a fear of failure to hold me back. Ultimately, the decision to move to Paris came down to whether I was willing to bet on myself—I chose to take that bet.

For someone afraid of failing, moving to a foreign country is an admittedly odd choice; I failed spectacularly and regularly, often seemingly without end. I had always been hesitant to speak in public, whether in French or just voicing my opinion, afraid of being judged and found lacking. In France, I had to overcome that fear and open myself up to embarrassment in front of everyone if I wanted to ever get anything done. It was difficult and intimidating, and I frequently felt foolish, but I had no choice except to plunge onwards. Though at times met with scorn or ridicule, I slowly gained confidence and had the opportunity to befriend plenty of kind Parisians, like the neighbor who invited me to practice my French with her over home-cooked meals or the woman at the boulangerie who came to greet me by name and give me daily updates on the exploits of her children, always making sure to give me one of the warm baguettes from the back. In failing constantly but persevering, I improved greatly both in my French and as a person.

Because I was in Paris, my experience may seem very bohemian and romantic, but let’s call a spade a spade–I was a member of the working poor. For the first time in my life, I was truly independent, with no safety net upon which to rely. I lived paycheck to paycheck in a tiny seventh floor walkup, barely making ends meet after rent and utilities, hardly having enough to pay for my phone bill, metro pass, and groceries, often forced to dip into what paltry savings I had. I took a second and third job, which while not technically allowed was commonly overlooked by the prefecture because they knew it was impossible to survive on our salaries alone. I relied on government housing assistance that took seven months, infinite red tape, countless interminable visits to my local CAF office, and becoming a self-taught expert on benefits regulations to finally receive. Not to mention the long and complicated process to finalize my visa that required at least five copies of every government document ever issued to me, translated and notarized at considerable cost, and endless hours in grim, fluorescently-lit waiting rooms. So, while my year in Paris is one I do not regret, an enriching one that involved lots of good, cheap wine on the banks of the Seine, making life-long friends, watching the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower, and eating my weight in croissants; it was also an incredibly stressful year in which I became all too familiar with bureaucratic gridlock, often feeling very frustrated, afraid, and alone.

When an American moves to Paris for any length of time, we are called expats, but what we really are is immigrants. In immigrating to Paris, I learned to appreciate the daily struggle that is life in a foreign country, full of daily humiliations, where something as mundane as going to the grocery store can become a daunting source of anxiety and shame. I experienced but a taste of the loneliness and isolation that can accompany such a move, knowing all the while that I would eventually return home. I can only imagine how impossible it must feel to try to build a new life in a country that seems to resent your very existence at times.

From the moment I used my halting Mandarin Chinese to translate for a woman also waiting in the French immigration office, who later thanked me profusely while insisting I accept a bag of oranges, a sign of good fortune in Chinese culture, I realized how profound an impact I could have in the lives of good people seeking better lives. I want to help immigrants feeling lost and alone, adrift in a sea of endless bureaucracy, like I once did. As a child of immigrant parents who are in many ways the embodiment of the American Dream, persevering through seemingly insurmountable hardships to achieve success, going from depending on food stamps to owning a house and sending their children to college, I believe deeply in the vision that brought them to this country and I understand the accompanying struggles. Now more than ever, I think it is a dream that needs defending, and a law degree will allow me to better accomplish this goal. Deciding to drop everything and move to France was terrifying and risky, but I chose to bet on myself because I know that I am smart and capable. I only hope that you will listen to the optimist in you, and take a chance on me as well.

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UVA2B

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Re: Please Review My Travel/Immigration PS

Postby UVA2B » Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Okay, I've edited and re-edited ad nauseum and I keep deleting but then adding more. I think I'm too close to it. I am naturally wordy AF and bad at being objective about my own writing, but I tried - I really did. It's currently exactly two pages double-spaced 11pt Garamond (is that formatting acceptable?). I think I'm finally happy with it, or as happy as I'll ever be at least, and ready to submit. But before I do, I need fresh eyes please!

Should I cut anything?
Is what I have effective?
Are the anecdotes/details helpful or just unnecessary?
Anything grammar or style-related is also welcome. I know I tend to use super long sentences but hopefully they're not confusingly so.
...Is it terrible? :?

Basically, just please HELP ME before I lose my mind. Much appreciated.

[+] Spoiler
Sympathetically, I waited as a flustered American woman searched for some centimes to purchase a plastic bag and hastily bag her purchases, normal in Paris but new to her. As an Asian-American, Parisians generally assumed I was just Asian, so the cashier felt free to loudly gripe about dumb amerloques (a French pejorative for Americans) all being so fat and demanding, too lazy to bag their groceries. The old me would have stayed silent: instead, I smiled at him after paying, playing up my accent as I thanked him in French for his understanding towards us Americans before turning to leave. Later that night, I could just make out the tip of the Eiffel Tower shining brightly from my window, and reminded myself why I chose to move halfway across the world. It’s not that I wasn’t aware of the difficulties that would entail; as a history major, I’d done enough research to fill a book, but the optimist in me had faith I would be alright. This was a long-cherished dream of mine, only I had always allowed self-doubt and a fear of failure to hold me back. Ultimately, the decision to move to Paris came down to whether I was willing to bet on myself—I chose to take that bet.

For someone afraid of failing, moving to a foreign country is an admittedly odd choice; I failed spectacularly and regularly, often seemingly without end. I had always been hesitant to speak in public, whether in French or just voicing my opinion, afraid of being judged and found lacking. In France, I had to overcome that fear and open myself up to embarrassment in front of everyone if I wanted to ever get anything done. It was difficult and intimidating, and I frequently felt foolish, but I had no choice except to plunge onwards. Though at times met with scorn or ridicule, I slowly gained confidence and had the opportunity to befriend plenty of kind Parisians, like the neighbor who invited me to practice my French with her over home-cooked meals or the woman at the boulangerie who came to greet me by name and give me daily updates on the exploits of her children, always making sure to give me one of the warm baguettes from the back. In failing constantly but persevering, I improved greatly both in my French and as a person.

Because I was in Paris, my experience may seem very bohemian and romantic, but let’s call a spade a spade–I was a member of the working poor. For the first time in my life, I was truly independent, with no safety net upon which to rely. I lived paycheck to paycheck in a tiny seventh floor walkup, barely making ends meet after rent and utilities, hardly having enough to pay for my phone bill, metro pass, and groceries, often forced to dip into what paltry savings I had. I took a second and third job, which while not technically allowed was commonly overlooked by the prefecture because they knew it was impossible to survive on our salaries alone. I relied on government housing assistance that took seven months, infinite red tape, countless interminable visits to my local CAF office, and becoming a self-taught expert on benefits regulations to finally receive. Not to mention the long and complicated process to finalize my visa that required at least five copies of every government document ever issued to me, translated and notarized at considerable cost, and endless hours in grim, fluorescently-lit waiting rooms. So, while my year in Paris is one I do not regret, an enriching one that involved lots of good, cheap wine on the banks of the Seine, making life-long friends, watching the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower, and eating my weight in croissants; it was also an incredibly stressful year in which I became all too familiar with bureaucratic gridlock, often feeling very frustrated, afraid, and alone.

When an American moves to Paris for any length of time, we are called expats, but what we really are is immigrants. In immigrating to Paris, I learned to appreciate the daily struggle that is life in a foreign country, full of daily humiliations, where something as mundane as going to the grocery store can become a daunting source of anxiety and shame. I experienced but a taste of the loneliness and isolation that can accompany such a move, knowing all the while that I would eventually return home. I can only imagine how impossible it must feel to try to build a new life in a country that seems to resent your very existence at times.

From the moment I used my halting Mandarin Chinese to translate for a woman also waiting in the French immigration office, who later thanked me profusely while insisting I accept a bag of oranges, a sign of good fortune in Chinese culture, I realized how profound an impact I could have in the lives of good people seeking better lives. I want to help immigrants feeling lost and alone, adrift in a sea of endless bureaucracy, like I once did. As a child of immigrant parents who are in many ways the embodiment of the American Dream, persevering through seemingly insurmountable hardships to achieve success, going from depending on food stamps to owning a house and sending their children to college, I believe deeply in the vision that brought them to this country and I understand the accompanying struggles. Now more than ever, I think it is a dream that needs defending, and a law degree will allow me to better accomplish this goal. Deciding to drop everything and move to France was terrifying and risky, but I chose to bet on myself because I know that I am smart and capable. I only hope that you will listen to the optimist in you, and take a chance on me as well.


First point: your formatting will be fine, 11-pt garamond is pretty typical unless the application states otherwise. Heed the app, follow directions, and move on.

Second: I largely enjoy your writing style as it follows a fairly coherent stream of consciousness through your story. That said, I feel a bit of a disconnect between making the choice of moving to Paris for a short period of time (and maybe I'm missing this conveyance, but equating living abroad for a year or so is a bit disingenuous when compared to what Americans traditionally consider in the term immigration. This is entirely a connotation issue, but I think it could be problematic with the wrong reader). I think you are trying to show the decision to leave comfort for discomfort and how it opened up your eyes to the true experience of being an immigrant, and that's an interesting, albeit still somewhat unoriginal (don't let this deter you, I just mean others have likely spoken about their time abroad and how it broadened their horizons before) take on the experience. But I would caution more generally that your overall story needs to make logical sense that connects every word to the next. Your writing has done that mostly, but the ideas don't fully connect to me. For instance, why did you decide to make this decision? What did you hope for the experience before embarking on it, and how did those hopes differ from the reality you experienced? What did you expect that proved true, and what departed from those expectations so drastically as to be unimaginable?

These questions are not meant to suggest you need to reimagine your entire narrative, but I feel like you successfully fit a narrative into an experience, vice allowing the experience to drive the narrative. You clearly wanted to show that this experience was formative to you, both personally and potentially professionally, which is admirable. But that being said, I didn't entirely buy the connection between your experience in Paris and fighting for immigrants rights. I don't mean that to be harsh, but I felt like the connection was too far strained and forced. I can't say I have fantastic advice on how to connect this, and likely you can ignore this part because your writing is generally strong enough to make an admissions officer decide your PS was good enough to select you so long as LSAT/GPA were good enough.

Final point: In this type of writing, you probably rely on extensive sentence structure more than you probably should. I found myself reading several sentences, only to read them again to make sure I understood how all of the clauses interconnect. Keep in mind that the person you're targeting is reading thousands of these every year, and things like that could annoy them. Keep your sentence structure generally simple unless you're using it for a purpose. A complex sentence can be incredibly effective at illustrating a point, but you should use it sparingly in writings for admissions.

As I stated at the beginning: I like your general writing style, and I don't think this PS will hurt you if you submitted as it is. But from my personal perspective, you could tighten up the structure, focus the language, and hone the connection of your experience with what you learned from it to cause more of an impact.

But regardless, don't beat yourself up on this because you've written something that is true to you, and it does give your application a third dimension, which is the entire point of the PS.



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