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Why I Came to America

My new life began on that chill autumn day. That evening, l came home to tell my mom two pieces of news. First, I received the highest grade in my class for all our final exams. The second thing I wanted to tell her was that I needed to leave the country. At first she was calmer than I thought she would be.  “Did anything unhappy happen in school?” she asked. She always thought of me as a whimsical child. When I was younger, I loved singing one day then piano the next.   “I have to leave,” I told her. “I don’t think l will take the college entrance examination.” She leaned back and looked at me. She was having trouble breathing, but I had to continue. “I want to study abroad.” The words blurted out of my mouth, and I couldn’t tell whether I’d actually said them aloud. She had mixed emotions: surprise at first, and then a touch of anger. She knew after living with me for seventeen years that once I had made up my mind, I would go to extremes to achieve my idea. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that my past seventeen years were a rehearsal for the college entrance examination in China. On track to go to the best college in my country,I was thrilled when I placed into the most advanced class in my top-rated high school. After three years of competition, I received first place in my senior year class. All the people around me said that I could realize my dream of attending Fudan University  once I received the college entrance examination results. Then, in my senior year in high school, it seemed the harder I worked, the more I grew confused. The whole senior year was only preparation for the entrance exams. For example, the essence of Chinese literature was buried in the formulaic essays for college entrance. After each mock exam, teachers would read our rank and appraise each student. It was a game full of flesh and blood. I observed students around me with backpacks as heavy as stones wearing glasses as thick as beer bottle caps. They repeated the same routine everyday which I knew better than anyone else. I pitied them, but then l figured out I was actually pitying myself. Even my mom said she couldn’t remember her college experience because getting into a top school was more important than her time there. Leaving my high school, hometown, and family was a very difficult choice. I knew no one would understand as there were only six months before the entrance exam. And I would have to spend an extra year in high school if I went abroad. My family, teachers and friends all told me l would regret my choice. My mom wouldn’t tell our relatives I was going to study in America; they would say I gave up because the pressures of my senior year were too much for me to handle. That’s not true. I held the dream so firmly that I worked extra hard my entire educational life, but my dream fooled me. In fact, the dream fooled everyone. Looking back my choices 5 years ago, I am glad I was determinant and knew what I wanted. I am studying in UCLA majoring in statistics and minoring in Japanese. I have switched my major for three times after I entered the college. I don’t think I would have the same opportunity to explore where my passion truly is. I spent last summer interning in a start-up company in LA. That became my turning point in my college career. I was determined to learn more about data science and horn my skills for the industry. I was drawn into the projects and found out I really liked what I was doing. After my internship, I applied to different graduate school because I realized my lack of experience in the field. Having decided to go to University of San Francisco, I am excited about what this new journey will bring to me.