Monday, April 25, 2011

Preparing to go abroad

Taiwan in the fifties and sixties was economically very depressed. A college professor would make approximately $10~$20 a month, much less than a US soldier. To us, every American was rich. It would be heaven to be foreigner! For a college graduate, there were very few possibilities for the future, since there were not many jobs in the "better fields", such as engineering and the sciences. The majority of college graduates were trying to go abroad for further education. For those of us in Chemistry, we had to prepare two languages for flexibility. We started our English during our first year in Junior High School. After six years, we still had to take one more year in college. I added "speech and debate" in my college sophomore year to get an extra edge. Since the Chemistry major required one to have two years of German, it was easy for me to add one more year - just in case going to Germany to study became possible.

Since my military duty was quite relaxed (during my year of service after graduating), almost every weekend I was allowed to come home to Taipei. Besides visiting friends, applying for graduate school admission was my main task. Our university president Chiang, who had graduated from the Chemistry Department at the University of Illinois, wrote a recommendation letter there for me. Sometime in April, I was informed that a scholarship was being offered to me. The stipend was higher than the salary of my father, who was then in a position in Taida equivalent to the Vice President of Administration. Can you imagine how happy I was! How could anyone deserve this kind of luck?

My next worry was how to get money for the airfare to the US. It cost more than $1000 one way at that time, which was an astronomical figure to me! There was just no way for the ticket to come from my parents' pockets. I will tell you later how things worked out.

1 comment:

  1. Hey!
    How was everything in the US?
    I've been in Argentina and rented a great Buenos Aires apartments!