Zhang Yang: Working part-time and earning money to travel al

2020-06-04 09:34 | Readtime: 8min

       Zhang Yang, born in Hubei in 1980, in the past 28 years, he has experienced the journey from ordinary Hubei town to Wuhan, from Wuhan to Tsinghua, and then from Tsinghua to Harvard... 

   first arrived in the United States, suffering from "dollar conversion phobia"

   Many Chinese people's first experience in studying in the United States is to go to the United States with $30 (up to $100). Then after several years of success, he gave up the temptation to pay a high salary and carried the inconvenient amount of dollars back to his home country.

   And my experience is a different version. I came to the United States with a lot of dollars. Because before graduating from Harvard, I graduated from the School of Journalism and Communication of Tsinghua University. I have been an English teacher at the New Oriental Xi'an Campus for more than two years and completed some "capital accumulation." Moreover, Harvard gave me a "half prize" of $7,000 per semester. But when the scholarship was not in place, I prepaid the tuition and living expenses myself. In addition, I also brought 10,000 US dollars in cash. Because of this tens of thousands of dollars in pure pocket money, I am especially "reassured" when I go abroad-American college students' pocket money is only 500 dollars a month, which is equivalent to nearly 1,000 dollars in pocket money every month in a year.

  When I saw me off at the airport, my parents shed tears, and my mother cried even more sad. Until I entered the customs, my mother assuredly said: "Child, don't forget to save the money to the bank as soon as you go."

   arrived in Boston safely and got out of the subway station at Harvard Square. I saw a small building like a European castle. I felt as though I had just crossed an underground tunnel to Harvard. Because of the jet lag, I woke up in less than 3 hours of sleep. Early in the morning, I started running all the way—registering, opening an account with a bank, applying for a part-time job, and obtaining a student ID. The school arranged for us to do everything a week, and I finished it all in one day. An American girl on the same floor as me saw me doing these things at such a high speed and tirelessly. I was dumbfounded and finally couldn't help but ask me: "Alex (my English name), do you want to graduate tomorrow?"

   After a busy day, I finally got jet lag. At 6 pm, when I finished the last procedure, I returned to the dormitory, and I fell asleep in bed. Waking up at night is actually 2 o'clock at night. I realized that I hadn't eaten for almost two days. It started because I didn't want to eat because of jet lag, but later I was too busy to eat. I was so hungry that I had to go out for food. I remember a 24-hour supermarket called CVS in Harvard Square. This is my first time shopping in the United States. Walking into the supermarket, I found that everything except Haagen-Dazs ice cream was more expensive than I thought. Hagandas ice cream is $5 a large tube, which is surprisingly cheap compared with the domestic small balls costing more than 100 RMB. But it is very strange that other things are quite expensive. For example, a box of potato chips costs 2 dollars. If it is converted into RMB, it is about 16 yuan (at the exchange rate at that time); an orange is priced at 1 US dollar, and it is almost 8 yuan converted into RMB. In the end, I was really reluctant to buy a bottle of water and a box of potato chips and took it back to the dormitory-this was my first meal in the United States.

   When I was in the country, I spent a lot of money and must take a taxi if I walked for more than 10 minutes. When I arrived in the United States, I started to save money. Because one dollar is spent, the bank account will be one dollar less. What should I do if I use up the money? Like many Chinese who have just arrived in the United States, I have a "dollar conversion phobia." The biggest symptom is: when you see the price tag in the mall, you will multiply all the prices by 8 like a conditioned reflex, and then stick your tongue out, whispering in your heart: "How is it so expensive?" End shopping with both hands empty.

   In addition, Harvard's restaurant is mandatory. As long as you live in a Harvard dormitory, you must go to the restaurant to eat, because the meal cost has already been paid to Harvard, you have to eat if you don’t eat. For me, a Chinese who was born in Hubei and used to eat hot sauce, going to Harvard for a bread sandwich every day is a kind of torture. But I don't have much money to eat in the restaurant outside. If you go to a restaurant for a meal, you will get at least two or thirty dollars. My "dollar conversion phobia" will allow me to quickly convert to more than two hundred yuan. I definitely don't want to eat more than two hundred a meal. Although among Harvard students, I can be regarded as a Chinese “rich man” with “huge” deposits, but I live as “poor” as other students. Because I made up my mind to plan my wealth well, it is better to "dig up a pot of gold" to make America's "poor days" enjoyable.

  Work-study program, part-time job to make money and travel all over the United States

  Once, the professor said to us that in Massachusetts, those with an annual income of less than US$3,000 belong to the absolute minimum living allowance. I immediately thought of myself. Because I didn't have any income in the United States at the time, I had all the ambitions to apply for American Dibao relief. The U.S. low-income households may have a better life than me, because they can find ways to generate income. I once met an uncle with a minimum living allowance at Harvard Square. In addition to receiving relief money, he is also the smartest beggar in the world. First of all, he is very brainy and chooses the "business place" at Harvard Square where people come and go. The location is good, he has been half successful. Second, he used wisdom to beg. Americans are a country that likes pets. About half of people like dogs, and half of them like cats. The old gentleman adopted a dog and a cat. In winter, he sat there wrapped in a quilt, then left a cat in his left hand and a dog in his right hand. The cat and the dog cooperated very well, and they curled up in the thick quilt, revealing their grievous eyes. So half of the pedestrians who came and went donated money to dogs and half donated money to cats. Begging to such a realm must be regarded as a "begging home."

On a bleak early winter night, I sat in Harvard Square and looked at the cars coming and going. I was thinking: Is it worth my 7 to come to the United States to give up such a comfortable life in the country? For what?

Fortunately, this pressure also brought me motivation-I want to work hard and work hard! In the United States, a person's credit history is very important, at first, because I don't have a "Social Security Number" (Social Security Number, similar to China's identity Card), so you can’t even buy a mobile phone, if you want to buy it, you have to pay a deposit of 300 US dollars. So my first thought was to quickly apply for a social security number. At Harvard, it is very easy to get a Social Security number, as long as international students who have obtained a legal campus job at the school can apply.

  But finding a suitable part-time job is not so easy. I called Radhika, my classmate consultant, and asked her to help. Radhika is a passionate Indian girl. When I was still in the country and we chatted through MSN, she had what she wanted. She took me to the library that afternoon and found a part-time job that was perfect for me-library media assistant. As an assistant, there is nothing that I need to "justify". I just sit in the office. If some students don't use computers, or need to borrow any media equipment, come to me. In this way, I can easily get around $300 per week.

   Soon, my scholarship of $7,000 per semester was also awarded, which greatly improved my economic situation. Fortunately, I met a wealthy American family. Their son is learning Chinese. I work as his Chinese teacher and my salary is 400 dollars a week. As a result, my financial situation has greatly improved, and with the library’s media assistant job, I have about $700 a week in income.

   In this way, I slowly passed the psychological panic period of shopping mall price "multiply by 8." Here, I would also like to tell my friends who are going to study abroad in the country: when choosing a school, you must inquire about the school’s ability to subsidize it. If the school’s ability to subsidize is not strong, you will be particularly uncomfortable and depressed abroad. Because in the United States, the control of working for foreign students is very strict. Except for part-time jobs on campus, all services for employers outside the campus are illegal, but there are many opportunities for part-time jobs in the school, such as teaching assistants, research assistants, and sleeping aids.


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