As humans, we tend to establish barriers when we are afraid to take risks. Then, we use these self-imposed barriers as reasons for not being able to achieve a dream. However, the same effort we put into creating these boundaries can also be used to get rid of them. That is where I get my motivation to chase my dreams. Ever since my mother migrated from the Dominican Republic to the United States without much money, we had to settle in a dangerous South Bronx public project complex. My neighborhood is predominantly made up of lower-class African-Americans and Latinoswho, statistically, do not value the importance of education and exploring the world for more knowledge. Sadly, the reality is that poverty leads us to think that dreams are impossible to attain because we do not know what tomorrow will bring; therefore, we tend to focus on salary. Growing up in this mindset almost convinced me that my fate would be the same and that I would just be part of this vicious cycle. Nevertheless, the moment I received my acceptance letter to State University of New Paltz, I knew immediately I did not have to be another statistic. This is why I am interested in going abroad to Japan for one entire academic year. Most people from the Bronx never get the opportunity to study abroad. If I achieve this goal, it will show them hard work can make their dreams possible. Being the first of my family to go off to college gave me the responsibility to change the economic status of my family and at the same time to do many things my mother was not able to achieve because of her economic situation. I entered SUNY New Paltz as an Equal Opportunity Program (EOP) student. This program was home base for becoming accustomed to college life and starting to live as an adult. I joined many clubs, like the Japanese conversation table and Amnesty International. I later began to participate in the International Student Union (ISU), where I got the chance to meet a variety of international students and develop strong relationships with them. I was elected to the executive-board of the International Student Union as the programmer. We planned and directed many fun events like “ISU’s Talent show” and “ISU’s Multicultural Festival.” Furthermore, I decided to join the East-West Living Learning community, where students who are studying Japanese or Chinese are placed to live with native Japanese and Chinese students. This experience brought me one step closer to understanding what these different cultures have to offer. I gained inspiration to study-abroad and developed my understanding of the world beyond the borders of the United States. My mother always told me that even though we are economically disadvantaged, our dreams are not off-limits. I took her words and began to follow my dream to see the world outside the borders of the South Bronx. As a child, I always watched documentaries about cultures around the world. What other children saw as boring, I saw as my form of entertainment. To me, these foreign places seemed like something I could only see on the television and actually never get to experience firsthand. I remember telling my friends cultural facts about these countries and always receiving the question, “why don't you go there to experience it for yourself?” The truth is it was impossible for me to even travel back to my home country. I only had my mother and the help of public assistance to get me through day by day. However, studying abroad is the chance for me to change that. This is my opportunity to show my family and my friends back home that it doesn’t matter what your economic background is: we all have the chance to encounter and celebrate different cultures firsthand. I have been accepted into the Nagasaki School of Foreign Studies study abroad program, which coordinates with SUNY New Paltz, spanning the whole Academic year of Fall 2014-Spring 2015. As an Asian studies and International Relations major, I will complete my Asian studies requirements during my year in Japan. Some of the courses I plan to take are Japanese Society A, where I get to study the structure of Japanese society and institutions involving economics, politics, and culture and Nagasaki Field work A, where I get first-hand experience of what culture and the city of Nagasaki contributes to Japanese culture. I chose to stay there for a whole academic year in order to continue and improve my Japanese language skills. I have been studying Japanese language from Elementary 101 through Intermediate 202 at New Paltz and I want to reinforce this skill by immersing myself in discussion with native speakers. I chose Japan as my country of concentration because of how different it is from American culture and the influence Japan has historically had on the world. Japan first grasped my attention with its aesthetics. I enjoyed watching documentaries about ancient Japan and was struck by how beauty was perceived in this different culture. The famous Geishas were a completely different image to me of what beauty is. I became more interested in Japanese culture during high school when we studied study Japanese political involvement in World War II. I am still interested in the political impact Japan has had on the world. For example, WWII ended when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which shaped Japanese society as a whole. I want to be able to understand this event from a Japanese perspective. I want to see Japan beyond its entertainment and learn more of the real emotions this country holds within. I want to embrace the true culture of Japan and use it to further develop my perspective. After completing my undergraduate program, I plan to work abroad in human resources or teach English. I want to apply to work for the Peace Corps, where I can help in an underdeveloped country. I also want to apply to teach English in a foreign country, either in Japan through the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) program or in another country that needs native English speakers. I believe studying abroad will help me develop an international perspective on the world and prepare me to handle working abroad. A whole year in Nagasaki, Japan will not only provide me the feeling of living abroad, but will also help me gain the skills and confidence to serve the international community. I want to be able to contribute a multicultural perspective to the Peace Corps and to any of the English teaching overseas programs. Studying abroad in Japan will prepare me to face different cultural opinions and I believe it will be the basis of my international career.