Hi everyone, long time lurker, new poster.
I would like some feedback on my personal statement. If anyone would like to swap me with me, for some serious editing, PM me. My concern is that it's a little (okay, a lot) long, and maybe the tone is too negative?
Of all the places in the world, “on a rickety old bus in urban Greece” is not one I would have chosen for the setting of my life-changing moment. But, just as we cannot choose what those lessons are or when they strike, we cannot select a more poignant setting in which these pivotal moments occur.
The moment that changed my life occurred four weeks into my study abroad session on the island of Lesvos. At the time, I was a junior in psychology at Michigan State University, where I lived with my best friend since the 6th grade, who was a journalism major. We signed up for the study abroad in Greece because it fit both of our degree programs, and also because it would be great adventure for us. Having been inseparable for the past eight years, we were so in tune with each other that we often finished each other’s sentences, and other people told us we “shared the same brain.”
One sweltering Sunday evening, just like any other, we took the bus into town to visit the internet café. The bus was empty except for us and the driver, and we were chatting happily away as the bus cruised through the cobblestone streets. Suddenly, a small car darted out of an alley, cutting of the bus, and the driver was forced to slam on the brakes and swerve. Fortunately, there was no accident, but we were thrown from our seats into the aisle. We picked ourselves up and brushed each other off, laughing nervously. The driver immediately pulled over and went into a convenience store to have a break, and we were left alone on the bus, chatting as though nothing had happened.
Suddenly, my best friend stopped in mid-sentence, and her eyes rolled back into her head. She started shaking violently, and began to turn blue. She had never had a seizure before, and in fact, I had never seen a seizure before. Her head began banging backward into the bus windows, and I knew I had to do something. I got up out of my seat and straddled her, holding her head away from the window, until the shaking diminished. She still wasn’t conscious, so I gently laid her down sideways across the seats, then sprinted down the steps and onto the sidewalk. I had no idea what was happening or whether she was dying, but I did know that the fact that she was blue was not a positive sign. At that point I realized that I didn’t speak any Greek besides “hello” and “thank you,” but I sprinted down the street screaming “Does anyone speak English! Please someone call an ambulance!” I don’t know whether no one understood me or no one was willing to help, but at this point I was in tears and frantic. I turned around and ran back to the bus at the same time to bus driver was returning from his break. I was out of breath but tried explaining to him that he needed to take us to the hospital, my friend had just had a seizure. He just looked at me and kept saying “But this bus does not go to the hospital!” Sometime during all of this, my friend woke up and started asking where we were, at which point I turned to comfort her and the bus driver flagged down a passing car. He came back on the bus and announced that this stranger would drive us to the hospital, then he loaded us into the car and we took off. The entire way there I was staving off a panic attack in the back seat, while my best friend sat in the front seat and kept asking where we were and where we going. I’m sure the Greek man that was driving us was very confused, but nonetheless he drove us to the hospital, and walked us in to ensure that we reached the emergency room.
I called my Greek professor and collapsed in a sobbing heap on the floor, so relieved that my friend was receiving the medical attention she obviously needed, and also that someone was coming to take over. I was finally allowed to lose my composure.
They ended up admitting my friend, who quickly felt fine, where she spent the night and was put through countless tests, CAT scans, and MRIs. Although healthcare is free there, the rules in Greek hospitals are much more lax than they are here, and we spent the evening eating souvlaki from the shop down the street and watching DVDs on her laptop. We ended up sleeping together in that tiny twin bed, and in the morning the doctors had gone over the test results and concluded that she was fine. What they told us, and this was later confirmed by her American doctors, is that everyone is allowed “one free seizure” before they are deemed to have a seizure disorder like epilepsy. They had concluded that she had suffered the seizure as a stress response to the near-accident, and that she probably would not have another seizure.
Although the story had a happy ending, I definitely consider it one of the most life-changing moments I have ever experienced (thus far, anyway). In those terrifying few minutes, alone in a strange land with a language I didn’t speak, I was more frightened than I can ever remember, being petrified that my best friend was going to die, literally in my arms. It may sound cliché, but since that day I have made a tremendous effort to really live each day to its fullest, and to value my loved ones, because you truly never know what the next moment brings.