Essay for Northwestern

I’ve already posted this essay on CC but after much editing here it is again … didn’t get many replies last time, please take a moment to comment! \FYI, the essay is for the butterfly effect prompt\

I’m also thinking about using this for the ‘external force’ prompt on the USC essay … with minor adjustments, of course.


The butterfly was none other than Mrs. Suh, one of my mom’s best clients and an excellent tipper. Even if she was a bit on the annoying side, I looked forward to weekend mornings, when I helped out in the restaurant and was usually given the task of waiting on her.

I was in first grade and spring break was quickly approaching but we still had no plans for a vacation. One Saturday morning, as my mom was ringing up her check, Mrs. Suh happened to mention her recent vacation to Mexico. I had friends who had been there with their parents, to places like Acapulco and Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, but Mrs. Suh assured us that that wasn’t the ‘real Mexico.’ It was magical, a must-see country, she gushed. I was all for it, anything but the Jersey shore. I’m sure I practically begged my mom to take us. And she did.

That was our first trip to Mexico. Over the next five years, we would visit at least once a year, sometimes twice. By the time I was ten I’d been south of the border more times than I could count.

My mom dropped the bomb sometime during the summer before fifth grade. I was looking forward to my last year of lower-school; finally, we would rule over the little kids. And middle-school, that mysterious, wonderful thing was just around the corner. I guess you could say I was perfectly happy until she told me. We would be moving to Mexico the following summer, it was decided. She was convinced that it was the best thing to do for both of us; she was tired of struggling with the restaurant, barely having time to spend with me after school, the fast-paced, sometimes lonely life of big-city America. I was terrified.

The first month or so in Oaxaca is now nothing more than a blur in my memory. I vaguely remember sitting in my room for a good part of the day, avoiding the neighbors (who stared constantly) and refusing to utter a single word of Spanish. I dreaded the first day of school and made my mom promise to walk me to my classroom, no matter how stupid I looked.

The first day was scary, yes, but it got much better after that. My Spanish improved quickly and my classwork was fine, much to my mom’s relief. My classmates were curious at first, and constantly asked me annoying questions, but I made friends right away and started to settle in.

As I graduated from high school this past June, I tried to imagine my life had we stayed in Philadelphia. The only thing I know for certain is that I am a completely different person because of my time in Mexico. At age eleven, I was certain my mom was destroying my life. Now I realize that she was giving me the greatest experience someone could have.

I haven’t seen Mrs. Suh since we left, but I think of her quite often. Mrs. Suh and her ‘real Mexico’ and how it changed my life forever.

<p>Comments off the top of my head:
Mention your age (at the time) in the first paragraph. Give me a mental image of a young child, rather than the teen I was picturing. (Such as, "I looked forward to weekend breaks from first grade ....)</p>

<p>I think your first couple paragraphs need better transitions. Seems to hop around too much. I find myself with each paragraph thinking, "What does this have to do with anything?"</p>

<p>In 3rd paragraph tell me more about how your trips were off the beaten path. You tell me Mrs. Suh suggested it, and at the end you mention "real Mexico" again, but don't mention it in between. Mexico is a study in contrasts -- lots of opportunity to paint me a picture here.</p>

<p>"greatest experience" -- Why? You haven't explained what was different.</p>

<p>"The only thing I know for certain is that I am a completely different person because of my time in Mexico."</p>

<p>Don't just say that - you have to show, how and why you are different. I liked the first part of your essay, but then it became "I had to learn a new way of life, but I adjusted, and now I am glad I had this experience" - a typical travel essay that should be avoided.</p>

<p>Personally, I really liked this essay. From the other essay threads I've browsed, this one appears to be one of the best of them. However, I do agree that the ending is a bit cliche and a bit rushed (of course that is way easier said then done). As the two other posters have said before, elaborate on that "greastest experience" statement. </p>

<p>G' luck!</p>