After scoring top marks in the gaokao, the national college entrance exam, Liu Dingning could boast what many high school students could only dream of: a full scholarship to Hong Kong University (HKU).
But just a few weeks into the semester in Hong Kong, she has called it quits. Netizens are split on whether Liu is being brave or foolish.
Liu has dropped out of Hong Kong University’s School of Chinese. In an interview with Chengdu Business Daily, she revealed that she had difficulty adjusting to life in Hong Kong. Liu says she does not understand Cantonese (the Chinese dialect spoken in Hong Kong), has had trouble with her eyesight, and was not used to sitting at a computer for extended periods. Nor was she a fan of the city’s humid weather.
But above all, Liu says she was bothered by the fact that the courses didn’t mesh with how she perceived classic Chinese literature should be taught.
Liu now wants to apply to Peking University back at home.
Straightforward? Quite the contrary. Such a move would require her to retake the much-dreaded gaokao because China’s education system only permits students to accept an offer from one school, demanding a resit of the exam if they want to change institutions.
Liu’s dropping out has led to grumblings at home.
“I urge Liu to be patient and try to adjust her attitude before making any decision. It is too early to tell whether you can easily adapt to life in a new city given your stay in HKU was only for a little while,” says Guangzhou Daily. “And besides, if she can’t adapt to HKU what makes her think that she will adapt to Peking University?”
What are the comments on weibo?
Netizens are split into two camps. Some accused Liu of “throwing away a financially enviable opportunity to study at a first-class university” while others say she was “brave” for making such a difficult decision.
“Had she considered the matter more thoughtfully in the first place this wouldn’t have happened,” one netizen wrote disapprovingly.
“Every year HKU accepts a lot of outstanding students from China and they never complain about Hong Kong’s education system so I’m not sure why Liu was the only one who couldn’t withstand the pressure,” another wrote.
“An 18 year-old girl has the courage to walk away from what most people consider a superior learning environment and a scholarship to study there, only to return home to start over again; I have nothing but admiration for her,” said another netizen.
HKU says it respects Liu’s decision and is “liaising with Peking University to help her pursue her studies where she is most interested in doing so”.
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