My intended major is business management. I believe that entrepreneurs hold the keys to their own destinies. My father owns his own business, and I admire how it gives him the freedom to take risks and share in the fruits of his labor. Only business owners have this option. What has surprised me most about American business, however, is just how hard one has to work to earn the right to take those risks.
I grew up in Hong Kong as the child of a small business owner. My parents sent me to a boarding school in Great Britain. Afterward I did not want to stay in Hong Kong. Rather I wanted to go to America, or at least the America I saw on TV. There every student has a car, every person has a job, and they work from 9-5 fulfilling their duties and get to enjoy themselves the rest of the time.
It never occurred to me, as a I grew up, that there was any question of my success. My family was well off, and my grades were good. Life was one big academic exercise, and I was passing splendidly.
It was upon my arrival in the United States that I received the biggest culture shock of my life. Nothing I had done up until now made any difference. No one cared where I went to school or who my father was. I was even subject to jealousy and racism from those who felt that I was taking up opportunities that should be reserved for Americans. My comrades joked that a degree was no guarantee of success, and the more I looked around, the more I realized that they were right. The whole effect was very disillusioning.
I also found that the "discipline" I had learned at boarding school had little to do with the practical nature of American education. Neither had such a structured culture prepared me for the life experience that one finds at college. I found myself floundering, both academically and in general, as America demanded that I prove myself anew each time I got up in the morning.
Yet it was this very demand tha...