Dealing with Unusual Essay Prompts

The admissions committee at the University of Chicago has revealed their “Common" essay prompts for applicants to the Class of 2019. In a recent email message, they presented the following topics:

1.What's so odd about odd numbers? Inspired by Mario Rosasco, Class of 2009.

2. In French, there is no difference between “conscience" and “consciousness". In Japanese, there is a word that specifically refers to the splittable wooden chopsticks you get at restaurants. The German word “fremdschämen" encapsulates the feeling you get when you're embarrassed on behalf of someone else. All of these require explanation in order to properly communicate their meaning, and are, to varying degrees, untranslatable. Choose a word, tell us what it means, and then explain why it cannot (or should not) be translated from its original language. Inspired by Emily Driscoll, an incoming student in the Class of 2018.

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