Yana Tsetlin reveals how travel opened her eyes Image Credit: Supplied

Yana Tsetlin, a graduate from United World College of South East Asia in Singapore, has a long list of achievements. A travel enthusiast, she has visited 23 countries in four continents. A competitive gymnast for 13 years, she has won the Singapore National and Singapore Open junior championships as well as several competitions in Australia and Thailand. Yana also completed 7 years of Commonwealth Society of Teachers of Dance examinations and placed at the top of various group dance competitions. Throughout her two years of IB, she received commendation awards for English Literature, Economics, Sports Exercise and Health Science, Psychology, and Chinese. ‘‘I particularly enjoyed traveling to a pre-law summer program in the US, which sparked my interest in studying in the States,’’ she says. ‘‘One of my proudest accomplishments is being accepted into Northwestern University.” Yana plans on majoring in economics and hopes to become either an appellate attorney or a management consultant.

Excerpts from an interview:

What are some of the best life lessons you have learnt from your travels?

Traveling has opened my eyes to an abundance of knowledge and skill development I would not have gained from staying in a single country. One valuable lesson I learned from traveling is adaptability. After learning about and experiencing various cultures and living situations, I developed a wider understanding of how some simple aspects of life function differently in different countries.

I have traveled to countries with significantly dissimilar forms of living to mine, and learning how to adapt to unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations when integrating with those cultures has taught me to become more accepting of other people and different ways of going about one thing.

I believe as you acquire greater amounts of knowledge, you begin to develop skills that stem from these experiences, such as becoming more accepting of differences in living circumstances and cultures.

I have found that this allows me to better communicate with and understand people, and form more meaningful and successful relationships with others. Travel has also taught me that finding similarities in something two people enjoy enables them to communicate more easily and comfortably.

What were the major takeaways from the pre-law summer program you attended in the US?

I attended this program at the University of Southern California, and it was called “Legal Reasoning and Argumentation”. During this program, we read and briefed legal cases, drafted letters to clients, and participated in mock trials and oral arguments. We also had the opportunity to attend a court trial and speak to judges and attorneys. Not only did this opportunity provide significant insight into the legal field for me, but it also helped me overcome a significant barrier I faced at school: I was profoundly shy. However, the class’s constant workload and my peers’ dedication to learn helped me open up to others and articulate my own strengths. I found myself becoming more confident in my speech and more coherent in my writing, which enabled me to successfully apply for and complete an internship at a law firm in Singapore.

You have been a keen dancer and sportsperson. How has that shaped your personality?

My dedication to sports and dance throughout my life has emboldened me to pursue my goals, and develop the mental strength and emotional management to not let the words of others negatively impact my path. A childhood and adolescence full of prolonged training hours and, at times, severe injuries, have helped me develop significant discipline and organization. It has helped me realize how much I can take on and manage, enabling me to maintain balance in my life even when all my commitments have become increasingly demanding.

What are you pursuing now in university?

I plan on majoring in economics while taking several classes in the legal and business fields. I would also like to pick up a new language, and my current plan is to learn Spanish.