February 29, 2008

"Why are you going to further your education?

Since the beginning of the final year, this question has been always around my friends and I. “Why are you going to do PG?”This kind of question will especially comes from our tutors, as the UK tradition is that people should go and find jobs after graduation; then several years later, when they have found what they are exactly interested in, they may choose to come back to Uni to learn something they really like.

Unfortunately, I am an International student who is “sufferring” the pressure to use parents’ wages to live and study here. Of course, I could try to find a job after graduation, I may find somewhere would like to hire me, as my performance in uni is not bad, I could keep to get 2-1, or try my best to achieve 1 for the final year. But I am not sure what kind of job I could really find, because I have learnt from some previous students’ experiences, who are being working class after graduating from such a good university in UK.

Although I have to admit their spoken English or communication skills are not good enough, but they did spend a lot of money on learning in Britain; they did spend time and efforts on writing essays. And now, they could stay here for one of two years to get working experience, according to a new law came out last year, but they have to tell their parents and friends at home who have extremely high expectation for them that they are living very well and earning money in such a “paradise”.

Maybe the examples above are not too bad, as they do not have to continue studying if they find it hard. As for some of my classmates, who are struggling about whether they should continue PG or not, life is rather tough. For me, I have to say, I am really really lucky, as I know what I exactly want to do for life. I have a clear mind of my interest; I do not need to hesitate to wait, as I know I do enjoying learning language; also luckily, I do not need to worry about my level for UG, which has built up my confidence as well. However, as for those who have both pressure from parents and problems with inferior levels, they are still struggling.

Several of my friends have asked me what I think would happen if they told their parents they did not want to do a PG degree. The only answer I could tell is I don’t know. But actually, I do know; I know exactly. Our parents, our friends, our reletives, and those who know we are learning abroad, will all disapprove with such a decision. They will say they are disappointed with us; they may say that is a great shame; they may also question what is the point that we spend so much money on UG…People are talking as they know what the life is like in UK; people are talking as they are those who are writing thousand-word essays.

The other day, I chatted with one of my best friends that our situation could be only understood by ourselves. That is, British people do not know what the situation we have to fact when we go back to China; while people in China will never know First is not easy to get in UK. Even finally I do quite well for study here, when I go back home to find jobs, problems will also come to me. For example, I may not get a job because I lack working experience even though my degree is good. Or small companies may not want to hire me, because they think my ability is too good for their company, in terms of salary and benefits issues. Then finally I may find somewhere to stay, I may feel burdened because of people’s extremely high expectation.

Life is tough, I always like to say.


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  1. Gerard Sharpling

    Hello Shuang, another day, another reponse… well, as someone who happened to become a PG student again much later in life, I really don’t regret it and would recommend it to anyone. OK, you don’t have money but lfe is worth a lot more than money. Maybe I was a bit late to do a PhD. But I got it in the end and I think if you can, it’s good to go as far as you can with your studies and education. It’s really interesting for us in the UK to hear about the situation facing young people in China job-wise. It seems quite hard to me. We don’t get to hear a lot about these things in the Uk so thanks for the information. I guess the costs of study here are equally hard! So what can one do for the best? Get a job or carry on with your studies? There’s no easy answer and it’s hard to know what to decide. We all have to do what we think is best for us. But good luck in whatever you decide to do (from someone who has been there….).

    01 Mar 2008, 21:52

  2. Cheers, Gerard. Now I am waiting for the reply of my PG application, as I have applied the ELSM in CELTE, as well as one PG course related to Translation in CTCCS. I do enjoy learning about language, so I am sure at least for the next 10 ys of my life, I would like to be a lecturer of English in China, while I could continue my Phd at home. Maybe one day in future I may find I do not like teaching any more, then I may choose sth else to do for life. But till now, I am still very keen on learning and teaching English, I like learning and exploring more about languages.

    01 Mar 2008, 23:17

  3. Gerard Sharpling

    That’s really great news, Shuang. Well done! Tell us how you get with your applications! Gerard.

    01 Mar 2008, 23:32

  4. Yangyu Xiao

    HiDear Shuang Yang,

    I have got the same problem when I apply my PhD (although it is still being processed and I do not what the result will be). I struggled for quite a long time until I found an area I am really interested in. Why am I going to study PhD? At the first few months in CELTE, my father kept asking me thinking about PhD study. At that time I did not develop any particular interest, so I kept wondering why? why? why? One reason is obvious, if I want to be a university teacher, a Phd degree is essential.(I still don’t understand why they need PhD to teach general English. ) And expense is also a problem….Now, luckily I do find out what I am interested in (and I do develop more interests in other areas in term 2), I am now begining to look forward to get a positive reply from a university in Hong Kong. Now I realized that intrisic motivation is really very important~

    I haven’t got a English blog by far but I decided to turn my MSN blog into an English one and keep the QQ a Chinese one. Welcome to my MSN blog when I am ready:)

    Shirley

    02 Mar 2008, 09:33

  5. Yangyu Xiao

    And I will surely try other universities if I am refused. Learning will be very enjoyable if one really has interests in it, right? Hope that both of us will be sucessful!!

    02 Mar 2008, 09:36

  6. Hey, Yanyu. Thank you so much for your comments. Of course I would like to have a look at your blog. I also know to be a uni teacher need to be Phd, but I may go back home to continue. Anyway, I think we could be friends, and we could discuss about what we have learnt and what we would like to do in future.

    02 Mar 2008, 23:12

  7. Gerard Sharpling

    Couldn’t help just passing by here again and one thoight occurred to me – do you do a PhD to get a better job or for your personal culture? Maybe both? It’s really an insoluble question but something to think about, I guess (as someone who has done one for both these reasons).

    02 Mar 2008, 23:29

  8. Hey, Gerard, I think for our situation in China, the answer to your question is for both reasons. That is because firstly to do a PhD is the basis of being a uni lecturer in a quality Chinese uni; we have to further a PhD to maitain the job we want to do. Secondly, the longer people teach, people will feel they need more knowledge to fulfill their personal need in culture. So finally, we will definitely do a PhD in order to do reasearch in depth. I think the reality just makes such step come earlier than it might be; but if I am going to do a PhD, I am for both a better job and my person knowledge.

    03 Mar 2008, 22:39

  9. Gerard Sharpling

    Hi Shuang, many thanks for your reply! I think it’s really good to think about doing a PhD from the two directions you have mentioned, the personal one and the professional one. The combination of these will help you to gain the motivation you need to get through the task. I chose my PhD subject mainly because it was interesting to me, although I also wanted the PhD as a qualification. The interest I had in the prject helped me to get through the years of research and writing up, and the focus on the qualification did the same. The most important thing is to choose your subject and your supervisor very carefully!

    Life is an unending path of learning and we never finish drinking from the spring of knowledge. But I find that my knowldege is being enhanced in many surprising ways these days. Not through books and academic papers, bu through my encounters with people in all their many-faceted sides. These days I lean much more over to the social and inter-personal in my way of working, and sometimes as I get older I grow weary of books, and want to learn just from the experiences of others. The real life is out there to be explored – the ‘university of life’, as they call it. There is nothing as strange or as wonderful as human beings. My hope is that I will never tire of exploring the reali intricacies of human beings and the way they operate. It’s a lifetime’s work.

    03 Mar 2008, 23:48

  10. Shirley

    Hi, this is Yangyu..also Shirley

    I agree that the reason is for both…but for me..if I will work in a area I am not interested at all for PhD. I would rather not do it. Interest is really important…three or four years is not a short time. I am very happy that I have plenty of interest..but the problem is opprotunities.

    My MSN blog is http://shirleysnow1215.spaces.live.com/, but it only has a few entries now.

    If you use MSN messenger, I would be very happy if you could add me to your friend list. My MSN is: shirley_snow1215@hotmail.com Now my MSN is open to all people on the internet because then you and Gerard could get access to it. If you are in my MSN friend list, then I could allow fewer people to get access to it….that will be great!

    04 Mar 2008, 19:50

  11. Jay Bal

    I have a Chinese friend who always said to me whilst we were studying together at Warwick “Life is tough! and then you Die” He is a millionaire now, living in Hong Kong, but travelling extensively in China and coming to the UK every few months. He still says “Life is tough and then you die”
    Last year I hosted a visit to Warwick from Hutchinson Harbour ( a major Toy manufacturer based in Hong Kong ) they were desperate to recruit Chinese students to work for them. These manufacturers are paying a “scholorship” contribution of £2000 for students going back to China to work for them. We have had similar visits and requests from the Hong Kong Watch and Clock association who represent over 100 companies. The Hong Kong goverment is giving preferentail visa access to WMG students who go back to work there. Sounds like a lot of good opportunities for me. I just could not get enough good chinese students who wanted to be interveiwed.
    A very important Boston Consulting group paper found that, as a company, what was most important was not how good you are but more, whether you were in a growing market. China is a much faster growing and dynamic market than the UK, you have much more chance of getting rich there!

    20 Mar 2008, 20:17


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