II. How Should I Live in This World: from Anxiety to Peacefulness 我应该怎样存在:(二)从浮躁到平静

I’ve now been studying at UT and living in Austin for a whole year. I cannot help reminiscing about the beginning of the spring semester 2014, when things happening on me in the other half of the world appeared to have been new, unfamiliar, and sometimes hard to handle.

I was looking down from the window of a small interstate airplane. Texas’s land is mainly of dark yellow and dark green color. It was in January; nevertheless I seemed to still feel the heat waves hanging over near this vastness. “Is this indeed the city the soil I will abide in for the next one and a half year before graduation from college? Will I possibly like it?” I was murmuring inside. Texas was too sparse, big, and “barren” to a student who had a fairly long living and academic stay in cities like DC and California. “Anyway, this is my choice and the optimal choice at that moment.”

I was anxious about my life in a new environment. Life exposed his complex and various sides to me which are no longer restricted to grades but issues like which apartment is ideal to pick for next semester, what to buy to cook for meals, how to self protect when I’m in potential danger because of walking homebound alone from the library at midnight, how to make friends who have implicit differences of outlooks from me and have explicit differences of languages used for communication…… Some part of me was so uneasy about all the miscellaneous things popping up everyday that I was so discreet of tackling them down one by one: I moved twice in two months from the west of city of Austin to the east and finally to an apartment near school…… I was on my own at a young age of 19. I like this sentence: “the quickest way of learning new skills is by expanding your comfort zone.”

In the first semester, I met kind and friendly peers and seniors who greatly helped me smoothly transit to regular life. I encountered a great but disputable existence in this world because of whose love I have received selfless love and care from strangers and have been trying to output equivalent attendance to others. I got a 4.0 GPA in the first semester and got an offer from a NGO to campaign for water conservation nationwide. I got an offer to study abroad in Botswana for a month during summer under the department of geography. I knew about a well known and very kind and approachable professor at UT in geophysics– Sergey Fomel and attended his software workshop at Rice University. During summer, I worked in the research team of Columbia University in the department of political science, surveyed the spanish people living in Austin, and used these data to test several hypotheses. However, what I did not do very well was the three summer courses: US government/ Texas History/ US History. The possible reasons are: 1. it was during summer when I was on the one hand part time working and on the other hand studying. What I should enhance is the skill of not only handling multiple tasks but more importantly dealing with them in a way as perfect as expected. 2. I thought it was not relevant to my interest and not taken at UT but the Austin Community College and after a long semester I felt tired. What I should improve is, first my sense of responsibility– to myself and also to my parents’ money and second my respect to knowledge– no matter where it was imparted to me I should treat it as equal and the same. 3. No close friends around or friends are travelling around to places I want to visit as well. What I should  avoid is the negative emotions invoked my others’ happiness gained from doing things I desire to do– If I long to travel, then I should make plans and learn to travel safely on my own, and second I should learn to have fun even when I’m alone in a new environment,  to drive out the unhappiness/isolation– I should utilize the internet to check out the recent events happening or are going to happen in town, so on and so forth.

During the second semester at UT, I took five classes composed of four math and one cs class and simultaneously I was auditing Professor Sergey’s class. I had my first research project, small as it was, with my mentor Sona through the Directed Reading Program at math department and did my presentation in 15 mins in front of my peers and professors. I got an interview with Dell on the position of Software Engineer. I got an interview as a tutor at Sanger Learning Center. I got an interview as an Outreach Assistant at Sanger Learning Center. I got to the second round of membership of Texas Undergraduate Computational Finance. I got 4 As for four of my classes and one B+ for Probability. I applied for Math Honors Program. I registered Austin Half Marathon in this February.

What I have not done perfect are as follows:

1. I made several attempts to read Professor Sergey’s papers and was hoping to get started my undergraduate research with him, but I hadn’t got any improvement about my independent research.

2. I was auditing the class but I was not able to take the final of the class.

3. I failed all the interview I got, and didn’t get up to go to the Outreach Assistant interview in the morning.

4. I was kind of slacking off during the first half of the probability class, so even though I was ranked pretty high in the final accumulative exam, I was able to pull up my grades all by one exam.

5. I was not running or working out regularly as expected.

How to improve:

1. Since now I’m pretty sure what my interest is, geophysics, I should focus the majority of my time and energy on it instead of hitting on too wide a field from Software Development to Sociology. The more you input the more you output.

2. I should lay down myself and do not be too self conscious– Don’t put too much attention on the result and thus be afraid of failure.

3. I should talk to Sergey more about what I’m concerned about, what I did not understand, and how to work for him, and his standards for phds. I should cherish this great resources. I may go to Pickle once every two weeks to talk with him.

4. Refining my resume and my interview skills. Getting as many interviews as I can through websites like Indeed/Linkedin– Remember, I’m young, and I’ve got nothing to lose.

5. Learn to quickly adapt to classes of different styles and forms. Don’t find excuse of laziness. Keep up the good work from the beginning to the end.

6. To merge regular work-out as part of my life.

However unsatisfied I am about my own life, I still thank life for bringing different interesting and respectful people in my life. Jun Zheng was a tough guy who came from a farmers’ background and was truly totally on his own ever since his university life; now he is a L2 student at UT Law School particularly studying the law of Intellectual Property. Heidi Zhang, now applying for UT grad program,  graduated from the same high school as I did and has had a energy loaded and adventure fueled life on the wicked trails among mountains and woods. Lyra Hao was a Phd student at Stanford now in Geophysics; she is a free spirit trespassing the majority land of the world and catching countless wonderful moments by her professional level photography skills. Paul and Judith are an old but young couple who taught me how to face the twists and turns of life and who infuse me the peacefulness/composure. (CONTINUED)

Now I’m in China with my parents. I was not peaceful here. I can only regain the peacefulness, short it might be, there at UT where some part of me, be it the heart or seoul is on the way to the truth and freedom of life, as time never stops for my regret and idleness.

CONTINUED……

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I. How Should I Live in This World: From Shanghai to Austin US (我应该怎样存在:(一)从上海到美国)

去年的今天,我在上海和华侨基金会的伙伴们,jojo,veronique度过新年。霓虹的星星点点装点着上海滩。我在虹口区的国峰大厦顶层,华侨基金会的会议厅内,吃着零食,唱着卡拉OK,唱走过去四个月的在上海,在越南河内,在美国华盛顿,在波兰华沙,在中国上海中国成都的经历的劳累,奔忙,焦虑,也感激着这四个月带给我的心智的收获,人生价值观的完整。我期待着一周后飞向另一个城市,德州奥斯汀。

2013年七月初到八月中旬,我在美国华盛顿的乔治城大学度过。我通过原母校,即上海外国语大学,提供的面试和考试的机会,获得去GU交流学习一个月的奖学金赞助机会。短短的一个多月时间,我需要迅速适应新的语言环境,两门文科课程,即美国宪法基础和哲学入门对于一个英语非母语的我来说,并不轻松。我一直对英国议会制辩论感兴趣,选择这两门课也私以为会对我的辩论技巧和内容上有所拔高。但真正一板一眼的学起来,我似乎并不很享受。老师上课所涉及的美国文化生活,比如提到的一些美国大事件,调侃的当时在美国范围内为人熟知的人名地名,总是让那个坐在前排竖起耳朵的我一头雾水。即使没办法完全听懂上课时老师说的每一句话,我完成的法律写作仍然能得到A-到A的成绩。这种让我受到挑战,不舒服的氛围让我感到兴奋鼓舞。我回想在上海读大学的我,总是班上的佼佼者,每学期特等奖学金总有我的份。我又想着我学习的专业,英语口译和笔译,我真的希望以后从事这方面的工作吗?

八月十号,我回到了成都的家,我知道我心中转学的想法早已蠢蠢欲动,那为何要动摇?想到了就去完成,没有什么来不及,那只是自我逃避害怕失败的借口罢了。那时我还有二十天准备托福考试,不,其实是十五天,因为有五天我会去英国议会制辩论训练营当助理教练。虽然时间紧迫,但我告诉自己,我一定可以取得我想要的分数。

九月一号,我回到了上海开始2013年秋季学期的学习。这一学期对于我有很重大的意义,为了转学,我既要维持高GPA,同时,我必须分配出足够的时间准备完成SAT考试。除了这些标准化考试,我需要去遇见不同的人经历不同的事,写出能展现自己思想和个性的文书。也许是想着转学之后的学习生活,我充满力量和精力:还准备着考完SAT后一个星期去波兰华沙参加联合国气候框架会议第十九次各方代表大会。

九月份开始,我每天早上六点半起床,除了正常的上课,图书馆便是我的第二个寝室。SAT虽然是美国的高中生考试,但对我来说并不是小菜一碟。我寻求搜索着各种SAT考试技巧和资源,每天作出计划,尽力完成。我记得很清楚,到过完国庆十天(学校空空荡荡,我哪儿都没去,图书馆不开门,我每天就去教室和考研的哥哥姐姐们自习),我才算真正把单词关过了开始刷题,那时距离我到越南河内考试只有一个月整,距离我到华沙参加论坛有一个月零两周。我没有任何人可以倾诉,每天像个不问世事的女疯子。我记得一次难过至极,在图文大厅给爸妈打了个电话,我放声大哭,根本不顾周围看书的同学,我说我不喜欢我现在的状态,我处在的氛围,我的专业。我要转学去学习我想学的,我想过的生活。爸爸说,你自己看着办吧,你走得了,我们就供,走不了,烂摊子自己收拾。世界好似与我为敌,我别无退路。(由于高中入党,我被分配党章学习小组的任务,但是分身乏术,我几乎没有尽到任何责任,党员身份岌岌可危,爸妈各种施压。。。)

我对于选择学校了解不深,但是我知道我的大方向是ivy不成(现在想来当时真片面),就去理工科较强的学校。那个下午,我在顾悦老师办公室聊到我在准备转学的事情,他随口一句,你去试试德州奥斯汀,我在那儿做过交流学者,是一个很适合你的学校。我回去查了查,随手申请了他的2014春季转学,想着就算是保底校。

十一月一号,我从上海飞向河内,在皇冠酒店完成了五个小时的SAT。十一月十四号,我记得那是星期五,我早上上完两节课后赶向浦东机场飞往华沙。路上的各种drama,不确定性,以及在肖邦机场赶掉飞机就不一一赘述。

一切有条不紊进行着,我已经感觉不到劳累,只有内心的无限希望和坚定不移。

十一月底,我收到了德州奥斯汀的录取通知。录取了社会学和数学专业,正是我所想的,我想在本科阶段成为一个全面的人。

原来这句话是真的:你想去哪里,全世界都会为你开路。