In life, there are a lot of choices we have to make. We do not know whether they are right or wrong and we probably will not even know for a long time, but they are parts of life and most importantly, we have to live up to our judgements. One typical example came from my friend, Chong Ren, who has been away from his hometown China for eight years. By making decisions, he learnt to think independently and grew up. First major choice came along when Chong just finished up his high school. Generally speaking in China, people with experience of studying abroad earn a much higher salary than those with local education (#1, Environment, Haun, p7).
He began to think it would be the time for him to go as well. In order to obtain more Information (#2, Haun, p15) regarding foreign life, he went to find an agent (#3, Channel, Haun, p4) who targeted Switzerland educational market. The agent painted a perfect picture with beautiful life and bright future and there seemed to be no doubt of making this choice. However, Chong’s parents did not completely believe the agent’s words (#4, Noise, Haun, p4) and thought he would hide something they were not aware of (#5, Concealment, Huan, p70).
Chong went back to ask for more details, and the response from the agent was “I promise (#6, Compliance Gaining Strategies, Haun, p37) everything I said was absolutely true”. That was exactly what he (#7, Receiver, Haun, p7) wanted to hear. At that point, Chong couldn’t help but started imagining himself as becoming a successful man after graduating from a foreign prestigious college (#8, Archetype, Haun, p72). With all the good wishes, Chong decided to go and study in Switzerland. As it turned out, changed his perception (#9, Haun, p63) about how things can go wrong without fully understanding the situation.
At the arrival, he felt the first chill from Switzerland because nothing was expected. In terms of being independent for the every first time, it was far tougher than he ever had in mind. When Chong was born in China in 1984, the whole country was carrying out the one-child policy, which means each family can only have one child due to the massive population growth, and therefore, that generation obtained more loving from their family than any others. However, when Chong started his life back in
Europe, he soon realized what things normally come naturally to him for the past twenty years suddenly became problems, something as simple as preparing for supper. The living expense in Switzerland was much higher than in China and eating out became a luxury. Cooking is the first survival lesson he had to learn. With no experience at all, Chong could only look back upon on what his mother usually does. After several practices and live chat with his mom on the other line, he gradually felt satisfied with his meal. Next, as hard to imagine as it was, grocery shopping became another obstacle.
In the small town where he was staying, the public transportations were too poor to go anywhere. A bicycle became Chong’s only reliable vehicle to go around town. The town was located on the border of Switzerland and Germany, so in order to shop for the cheaper groceries; Chong often rode to Germany with his little bike even if it took an hour each way. In the winter, bicycle did not work too well anymore. One time Chong’s bicycle was broken on the way back home, he had bought a lot that day so he dragged the bags with him while held on to the bicycle at the same time.
After three agonizing hours, he had finally reached home, found the bags were completely torn and some groceries were long gone. He was exhausted and had never felt so low in his young life. At that point, he felt he was the most pathetic person on earth (#10, Life positions: “I am not ok; you are ok”, Haun, p67). He started to doubt and began to ask himself “Why am I here? ” (#11, Relational Dissolution/Intrapsychic, Haun, p53) The image of hugging his parents and friends flooded his mind and he was so homesick. Actually what really made Chong depressed was not about life but the school issue, which gave him huge pressures.
The school he attended was not accredited by local education department but a private language school. The school only offered German language courses rather than fundamental university curriculums. Also, unlike what the agent said about transferring to universities after completing the language courses, due to different educational systems, while Chong just graduated from high school, he could not enter Swiss universities. Since Chong carelessly did not check for detail information (#12, Piece, Haun, p16) provided by the agent, he had got himself into deep trouble then. The second choice Chong had to make was whether to go back to China.
It was such a tough decision for him since it would be considered as a loser if people were going home without any achievements. But the circumstance was that he would only keep wasting money if insisted of staying in Europe. He knew what got him to this position was because he did not collect enough information before making decisions but merely followed the agent’s advices (#13, Lack of Adequate, Haun, p79). In order to avoid the same mistake, he intended to find out as much knowledge as possible from his friends and people living long in Switzerland (#14, Ask the Third Party, Haun, p64).
Yong and Pan were the two friends Chong first thought of. Yong had retired from the Chinese army and is two years older than Chong, and Pan had two-year-college experience in China. Yet, they were both Chong’s roommates. One day after dinner, Chong asked Yong and Pan to give him some advices about his confusion (#15, Group, Haun, p75) “I cannot see any hope here” He started (#16, Self Disclosure, Haun, p57) “It’s still too early for you to decide whether to go or to stay because you have only been here for half a year. You may have another chance to do something. ” Yong said. I just want to get into the college here like everybody else. ” Chong replied. “May be as time goes by, the policy would change and you will be able to enter the university then. ” Pan added. “It is possible, but it would rarely happen and I do not want to risk my future any further than I already had. ” Chong insisted (#17, Evaluation, Haun, p43). About an hour had gone by and they were still debating back and forth, but there was no conclusion at all. A day later, Chong met Ling, who worked for a church. They had met a couple of times in church but did not talk much.
Chong told her about his struggles and hoping to get some ideas from her (#18, Uncertainty Reduction, Haun, p16). “If you were interested in theological college, I would offer you a recommendation letter. ” Ling said (#19, Rational Dissolution/ Dyadic, Haun, p53). “Thank you so much for your concern! ” Chong replied. Moreover, China is an Atheist (#20, Political Propaganda, Haun, p46) country and Chong have never had access to any kind of sources regarding to God until he arrived in Switzerland. “I would think it over. ” Chong continued.
Although he tried to gather more information before deciding, no progress was made yet. Chong sometimes thought what exactly is so difficult for him to make up his mind, the answer is simply responsibility. He did not want to take the responsibility of admitting coming here was wrong. He was afraid of blaming from his parents and negative attitudes from others. Despite the fact that he knew why he felt confused, he still hesitated to go home. Soon he met another person called Xun who completely eliminated Chong’s hesitation. Xun had been in this town for five years since he graduated from high school.
He also studies in the same school as Chong and worked there as a part- time job, but he could not enroll into university due to the same reason. The little salary from the part-time job cannot afford his living in Switzerland and he kept receiving money from his family. What is the worst was that he went nowhere with his future. During the conversation with Xun, Chong felt so sad (#21, Pathos, Haun, p36) and seemed to see himself in the future, and realized that he should held himself accountable, compared to what would happen to him if he had chosen to stay. Going home was the best choice then and he had finally made up his mind.
A few days later, Chong took the flight back to China and only his parents were there to pick him up at the airport. He did not want his relatives and friends to know what happened to him in the past year, since he had always been a good student on their mind (#22, Impression Management Theory, Haun, p41). Chong kept smiling at his parents and did not want them to see his sadness (#23, Expression of Self-Image, Haun, p37), then hugged (#24, Haptics, Haun, p35) them very tightly. However, as mentioned before, his parents felt somewhat let down by his return and were eager to find out what really happened in Switzerland.
Chong eventually told them everything. “We understood you went through a lot this time and we were happy for you because of the strength you gained. ” His mother sat there and cried, Chong handed a napkin (#25, Artifact, Huan, p35) to her, “Although the expense was a lot, the cost was not what we were mainly concerned about. Most of your former classmates at your age went to colleges now, so we were more worried about the time you have been wasting. What is your next plan? ” Chong listened to his mother carefully (#26, Attention, Haun, p42) and replied, “Two choices.
Either to re-enroll back to the high school in China for the entrance examination of college or choose another country to study abroad again, such as Canada or Australia. ” His father did not answer directly, “Let’s see which way is the best for you now. ” The parents made an urgent appointment with the principal of Chong’s high school, wanted to hear his expertise (#27, Ethos, Haun, p36) on whether it was likely to succeed in re-taking the third year of high school to prepar e for the exam. I do not know much about America’s high school entering into college policies, but in China, students only have one chance annually to ass the examination, which is outrageously hard. If people failed that exam, they had to re-take the senior high school level and waited to apply for college the next year. Therefore, it is a huge deal for each family to consider the appropriate college selections. The exam is held on June 7th, 8th and 9th of every year and Chong just got back in on January 2005, so time was so tight to prepare for the exam because there was only half a year left. The high school’s principal said, “Based on his experience, there was a 50/50 chance to be successful. ” That did not sound good to re-enroll back into high school.
Also, the reason why Chong studied abroad last time was that Chinese university education was not as good as western’s. If possible, he still wanted to have access to better education in western countries although his study plan in Switzerland had failed (#28, Equifinality, Huan, p13). Which country was good for him? After the lesson Chong learned last time, he focused on more educational field in certain counties rather than considering how the country was on his mind. British, Canada and Australia were all traditional countries for Chinese students to study abroad.
Compared to Switzerland, these countries had agreements with China in educational fields, and also universities there were more open to international students. Therefore, Chong planned to study abroad again in one of these places. His parents agreed with his thoughts, and with carefully selection, Canada became the next stop Chong was going to. When Chong arrived in Canada, he felt stressful, but believed firmly that he would achieve his goal by hard working (#29, Value, Haun, p37). He went to a college called CIC, where the college preparatory courses were provided and used to apply for Canadian university.
In this college, most students came from internationally, such as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Russia or some Africa countries. Since these were not many naturally English speakers, they usually made friends with people from their own countries; therefore the language environment was not very good. After a half year, Chong did not feel the need to speak English although other courses were going well. When he wanted to change that situation, he met a friend called Lee who prepared the questions to ask in the class every day. By doing it, his English was much better than before.
Chong followed Lee’s idea and also saw improvements (#30, Interdependence, Haun, p13). Meanwhile, Chong needed to choose a direction for his major. Usually, Students from Asian countries were interested in business major, so it does not seemed hard to take at all and the job market was quite flexible. However, according to the salary survey (#31, Feedback, Haun, p3) from local news, the international employment obtained lower income than local people in business majors because communication in an English speaking environment was a disadvantage for Asian students.
Instead, the popular majors were science and engineering, not only there was high demand in job markets but also the salary was relatively high. However back to Chong’s academic background, it challenged him again. He was the type of person who loves liberal arts such as history, literature or politics. He was never good at science and he did not have any knowledge (#32, Haun, p37) for engineering studies. Besides, he had never passed the math exam and did not even understand the Law of Gravity (#33, Haun, p10) since high school in China.
In order to make his education with high expense worthy after graduation, he was willing to challenge himself by taken on some hard subjects. Later, he decided engineering was the degree he would like to pursue in the upcoming semester. In class, even though he understood what professor teaches (#34, Comprehension, Haun, p42), Chong still took notes very neatly. With hard working, he gradually recognized himself as an engineering student (#35, Change/ Adaptability, Haun, p14).
Chong realized that the benefits from studying science and engineering subjects were to develop his scientific attitude (#36, Haun, p9) and he learnt to analyze the problem by using Scientific Method(#37, Haun, p9) and he truly believed that was the right track to continue on (#38, Weight, Haun, p41). One semester had passed, one piece of information about American Visa caught Chong’s attention. Based on the news from American homeland security (#39, Source, Haun, p7), America will increase the number of visa to Chinese students and welcome them to study in the United States (#40, Content, Haun, p72).
This was such an exciting Message (#41, Haun, p7). Chong had always wanted to come to the United States for a higher education. However, due to political reasons, the number of visa for Chinese students was very limited. Many people had to choose other countries when the door to America was shut. Wei was that type of person who was desired to go to the US. Wei then studied in CIC too, but his older brother went to US a couple of years ago with full scholarship. After graduation, he found a well paid job that suits his degree study (#42, Modeling, Haun, p48). One evening, Wei atted Chong’s shoulder (#43, Kinesics, Haun, p32) and sat next to him in the cafe at school. “Hey buddy (#44, Paralanguage, Haun, p33), how do you think of the news about the American visa? ” Wei asked.
“That’s great, but we have already applied for university admission here and I am not sure whether to apply for American universities as well. But I did go to some internet forums (#45, Information Acquisition, Haun, p48) and found out where many people began to apply. ” Chong said. “It is kind of a complicated process to apply as a foreigner from Canada and we need to get started now if we want to go. Wei replied. Since then, Chong and Wei exchanged the information regarding universities in United Stated almost every day (#46, Episodes, Haun, p72). Soon another person called in, Hang joined the discussion group of Chong and Wei (#47, Theories of Interpersonal Communication, Haun, p48). Hang had gone to the US once for a summer program years ago. He told them what the lifestyle in US looked like and how much the cost would be to live there (#48, Direct Experience, Haun, p48). But Hang also would like to have more information about American universities.
Then these three formed a team for preparation of application papers (#49, Task, Haun, p75). Chong covered the universities in the northwest region of the US, Wei was in charge of the east coast and Hang did west coast (#50, Role Playing, Haun, p48)… In conclusion, time elapsed so quickly that five years had passed since Chong and his friends planed to come to America and they all since received offer shortly after applying. Chong had earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Washington State University in 2011 and is currently working on his master degree on petroleum engineering at the University of Houston.
If his story seemed boring to you, here is a little twist. He is my beloved newlywed husband. If his hometown can fulfill his ambition, we would have never met; if Switzerland is everything he expected, we would have never met; if he was on the right track in Canada, we would have never met. In one dimension, Chong seemed to be wasted awful lot of time by constantly selecting and redirecting his life, but at least he has been living it up to the fullest. Plus, the best is always saved for the last!