What to worry?
[ 2007-03-19 15:47 ]

Christy writes:
As many others, I am writing to seek advice from you.

I graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2005, and am currently applying for a Master Program in Foreign Language Studies and Applied Language Studies provided by the Beijing Foreign Language University. My entrance examinations, including English, Bilingual Translation, Spanish, will take place on 21, 22 April, in Hong Kong.

Now I am so frustrated, firstly because instead of English, translation or other language related subjects, I majored in Economics when I was in the university. To make things worse, I am not familiar with issues of China and its style of examination. It worries me if my preparation is on the right way, especially when there is just a little more than one month to go.

One of my professors suggested me the most helpful China Daily, from where I found your name. I am wondering maybe you could kindly have some advice for me.

1. What are the hot topics that I shall pay full attention to?
2. As there is no much time left, is there any special strategies I could take when preparing for the exams?
3. Do you have any tips or hints for the exams?

Please excuse me for being so practical. I know there are no short-cuts in learning. But I do believe there are tips and hints for an examination.

I look forward to your most valuable reply and am much obliged for your help.

My comments:
Christy, yours is a typical letter I receive from my generous readers to whom I am "much obliged", to borrow your kind words. Typical in that you sound like you've got major problems when, the way I see it, you don't.

You've done your undergraduate studies and are now on the way to pursuing a master degree in Beijing. Not many people can paint a rosier picture for themselves than that. It seems your situation is not what you've tried to make it out to be - It's not dire at all.

Worries sap energy. So let's see if I can help you to stop the worries and in so doing spare you some more energy for preparing for the tests coming up.

And let's see if we can accomplish that without me resorting to practical "short-cuts" that you mentioned. I don't have any of those anyway.

Essentially, what I want you to recognize is that there's really nothing to worry about. Or, to put it another way, what you worry about is nothing - your worries are merely imaginations. They are just ideas in your head. They are not real.

You're worried, for instance, that the fact that you "majored in Economics" might be a handicap. That may not be true - supposing you're to be examined on an economic issue?

You're worried the fact that you're "not familiar with issues of China" and "its style of examination" may be a hindrance too. This may not be an obstacle either. Remember, if the Beijing university wants to enroll students from Hong Kong, they'll be asking you to compete with local students. You'll be competing on a level playing field - none of the other HK students will be more familiar with Chinese issues than you are.

Unless, of course, they have also been alerted to "the most helpful China Daily" by one of your professors. Frankly I don't know where your professor got that idea from - He must know something I don't know about China Daily.

That said, you're also worried over whether your "preparation is on the right way". This you can lay to sleep without remorse. Let's face it: no-one else knows for sure either. If they all choose to worry about it, they too can worry about it.

And you are "especially" concerned that "there is just a little more than one month to go."

Ditto above: it's the same for all other students. There's just a little more than one month to go before all of you file into the class room and face the music. If any other students worry about that fact, then it also can be a problem for them. On the other hand, if they don't worry about it, it won't be a problem.

So, that's what I'm saying - there's nothing to worry about.

But my worries are REAL, I seem to hear you insist. Well, if your worry about it, your worries must be real. So let's do something more about your worries, this time on a more practical level. Let me introduce you to Dr Wayne Dyer (Google him after the exams) who once made the same point (that there's nothing to worry about) with eloquence, to the following effect:

There are only two types of things we worry about. One, things we can do something about. Two, things we can't do anything about. With the things we can do something about, we do something about. So, why worry? Then there are the things we can't do anything about - but if we can't do anything about them, why should we worry about them?

See? Either way, there's no place for worry.

Divide your problems into things about which you can do something and things you can do nothing about. Then do something about the former. Ask, for instance, the Beijing school for more information (what topics are hot, what are not) and consulting previous exam-takers in Hong Kong on how they went about the exams ("special strategies", "tips" and "hints", if any). Don't do anything (do not even worry) about the latter, things like the fact that it's merely a month to go.

In other words, don't worry so much about the results that you fail to enjoy the process. Just immerse yourself in the process and let the results handle themselves.

I mean the results will come when they come. And for your sake, Christy, I'd like them to be happy results.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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