University of Washington Admissions Essay

The challenging family situation I would like to share with you is our move from
Korea to the United States. In 1989, my life was changed when my family
immigrated to a new country, hoping for a better future. My life in Korea was
hopeless, because I was a failing student with not much interest in school. I spent the
majority of my time in Arcades, wasting my coins on video games. Rather than
studying with my friends, as I had told my parents I would, I obsessed over the
games. The only positive aspect to my life was my private computer programming
lessons. Programming in Apple BASIC presented me with an opportunity to create
my own world. One day, my parents told me that we were going to move to the
United States of America, and I developed a strong feeling that my life soon would
change forever.

After spending eleven years in Korea, our family moved a totally different
environment. This I knew would be my toughest challenge to date. As a fifth grader
attending a new elementary school in a new country, I felt left out because of my
inability to communicate. Some kids assumed that I did not understand them at all, so
they made rude remarks about me. I understood them, maybe not completely, but I
knew the intent of their messages. All that I had was my Apple II computer at which I
just sat and programmed when I came home from school. At home, my parents
pressured me to study all of the time, but I was frustrated and wanted to return to
Korea. I wanted to go back and talk freely with my friends and play games with
them. My parents often told me that they decided to move here because of the
educational opportunities, yet I continued to rebel and refused to listen to what they
said.

Over time, my English improved. I moved on to regular sixth grade classes;
some of which were challenging, but tolerable because of my teachers whom were
willing to help. I always enjoyed class trips to the computer lab, where I would start
programming on the computer. Other kids would start to gather around and treat me
like a genius. Before long, I made more friends and found that I was enjoying school.
Thoughts of going back to Korea faded, and my grades rose to a satisfactory level.
This pleased my parents who now encouraged me to invite friends to dinner. When
my friends came over, I became the translator between my parents and my friends.
Since then, I often translate for my parents in any occasion where translation is
needed. Talking to some adults was intimidating and sometimes embarrassing, but I
felt mature and responsible. The rest of my school year went by very smoothly, and
my self-confidence grew. Now I help other Korean people with language difficulties,
helping them to understand English and American customs.

Prior to my arrival to the United States, I thought everything would be nice and
easy, but it did not turn out that way. Life was difficult, since I had to learn a new
language, culture, and customs. One of the best things I learned was that my parents
were right. This experience helped change me from a hopeless kid to a confident and
responsible young adult. From this experience, I have learned that if one sets goals,
works hard towards those goals, dedicates oneself to those goals, and takes
advantage of opportunities presented, they can achieve anything.