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Sina, China

America Is Not Paradise

By Li Wei

The U.S. is, admittedly, not heaven, and China is also not hell.

Translated By Chase Coulson

6 January 2013

Edited by Heather Martin

China - Sina - Original Article (Chinese)

I know an American girl studying political science in China. After finishing her studies she began working at Deloitte, which is, apparently, quite a far cry from what she first envisioned. But she is still extremely happy she was able to find a fairly well-paying job.

This exchange student said that all of her classmates are as diligent as she is. From the first day she came to study in China she began working particularly hard. Besides devoting all her energy to her studies, she works 70 to 90 hours per week to earn money for her school tuition and to cover her living expenses. She said she is most jealous of the fact that Chinese university students only have to worry about their study but don’t have to worry about how they are going to live during their time in school.

At the same time, what circumstances exist for those Chinese students studying in the U.S. about whom they gossip? She said when Chinese students get to the U.S., there are few who actually study. Most of them only care about having fun. They essentially don’t study, and their school lives are unbelievably laid back. Her understanding is that most Chinese students who study abroad are from affluent homes. There is no need for them to earn money to support themselves; more importantly, she feels that the pressure [on students] from China is much, much less than [on students] from the U.S.

Some people say that Americans’ lives begin from the time they enter university while Chinese people’s lives begin from the time they enter elementary school. Chinese children suffer for more than 10 years until they enter university; once entering university, it is like entering paradise. Look at it this way: they’re like an out-of-control horse that can’t wait to make up for all the fun it has been missing out on for all those years, so their college life is pretty carefree. American kids, on the other hand, have already had their fill of fun by the time they enter university, and at that point, the struggle in life really begins. So they don’t dare slack off, not even one iota. They are all the more clear about how great the pressure of survival is, and how truly competitive it is out there.

On average, an American college student’s tuition is around $25,000. If they could sponge off their parents, it would be a much more relaxed experience. But if mom and dad can’t afford to pay their child’s tuition, then he or she can only rely on student loans. A certain portion of these loans are extremely low interest, somewhere in the neighborhood of one percent interest, while the rest of them are high-interest business loans from banks. For the great majority of American university students, at the same time that they attend school, they also become “slaves” to their student loans and to their studies — in order to attend university, they become buried in crushing debt. A college graduate has over $100,000 in student loans. When seeing this for what it is, many people begin to understand why the American girl and her fellow exchange students who I mentioned earlier in this passage are enduring such hardships. One can also make the connection that other Americans’ lives are not so easy.

The U.S. is, admittedly, not heaven, and China is also not hell. To the majority of young people, the game of survival is the same. If you don’t have dad around to sponge off of, then every step you take must be a practical one. Always remember: without diligence and hard work, there will be no better life.



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