Everyone applied to quite a number of graduate schools, as we had no idea which ones would provide financial support and that was the only way we could go abroad to study. We heard a lot of stories about how much people had to suffer when they had to work for their tuition and fees.
At the suggestion of Miss Sells (my English teacher), I applied to East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in addition to several other schools. We really had no idea about how strong or weak a chemistry department would be. If they were in the USA, they could not possibly have that much difference! Certainly ETSU also gave me an assistantship. Miss Sells talked with me many times, telling me about the advantages of going to ETSU. Her family was living in the same town: Johnson City, TN. I could adjust to the American life better by staying first in a small town. Her church was also located in Johnson City, with a lot of her friends. Even though the scholarship was less than others, Johnson City was a cheaper town to live in. Of course, I did not want to give up my University of Illinois offer. Miss Sells told me that there was no problem in postponing the offer from UI and going there after getting a masters degree from ETSU. To my surprise, UI agreed to this arrangement, allowing me go to ETSU first. What a twist in my life! I realized that everything could be negotiated!
Xiao-gie (my cousin) also gave me some wonderful news. She would be able to manage the expense for the air-flight to the USA! Everything seemed to be going my way!