I’m a junior student, and I want to pursue further study after graduation. Some suggest that I apply to a graduate program in China, saying that the familiar circumstance will be more relaxed and that this will help me concentrate on my studies. Others encourage me to study abroad, saying that this experience will broaden my horizons and help me become more independent. So, I’m a bit confused, and can’t decide which path I should take. Would you please give me some advice?
Dear Wang Jie,
Thank you for your sincere request for advice. To me, it sounds like you may have a mild case of “information overload” (i.e., too much information, often conflicting, which leads to a general state of confusion). In order to find the best path for you, take a breath, clear your head, and look deeply into your life and goals. If you wish to move forward with confidence and joy, you must know what it is that truly inspires and motivates you.
From one point of view, if your grades are high enough and if your family can afford to finance your studies abroad, you are indeed one of the very privileged young people of China. Some might say that it is practically your duty to study abroad and then bring back what you have learned to the benefit of your motherland. In this way, you would be supporting the national goal of “opening up” in a very real way. Does this patriotic mission appeal to you?
From another point of view, some Chinese students do very well in study-abroad programs and others do not. Living abroad for a period of several years is not easy, but perhaps you are one of those who are strongly attracted to this kind of challenge. In the spirit of “opening up”, studying abroad would give you the opportunity to interact with and learn from foreigners on a daily basis, and to gain an in-depth experience of a foreign language and culture. Also, many smart people have said that international travel is an essential part of a well-rounded education. Does a long-term, cross-cultural adventure appeal to you?
If you do well in your undergraduate and graduate studies — whether in China or abroad — you should have an equally good chance at a successful career. I therefore would advise you to not base your decision on what you or others believe to be the potential financial reward. The future is never a certainty, so focus on the ‘now’.
Whichever path you eventually decide to take, Wang Jie, I’m sure you’ll do fine!