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[原创] The Days Studying in England [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2006-5-30 19:18:42 |Display all floors
(1)

“What a wet day!” When a gust of noise was trickling in my dream, I dimly recognized what happened.
It is the weather of early spring in Shanghai no sooner than you have been delighted by a warm and clear day; you’ll certainly be disappointed by a chilly and wet change!
In spite of this, I had to get up early to visit one of my old friends, Mr. Fang who I have not met for more than 20 years, ever since he completed his advanced study and left the University of Bath in England.
The shower was getting heavier and heavier and the wind was swirling every where. The avenue leading to underground station was flooded. Lots of large and small streams were splashed by running vehicles to and fro.
With our distorted umbrellas, my wife and I were hardly trekking in the wind and downpour. After a while we all got wet. However, the bitterly coldness never dominated my warm feeling for meeting my old friend.
The journey we taken by underground train had lasted about half an hour. We arrived at our destination 20 minutes earlier than we expected. I decided to get out the station and manage to find Mr. Fang’s address by ourselves rather than calling him as we discussed yesterday on phone.
After about 20 minutes’ searching and walking, we got our object, a 32 storey building where Mr. Fan’s apartment is located in. I dialed his number, than a familiar voice sounded. ”Are you Wenzili?” ”Yes, I am here.” ”Ok, I’ll meet you in Gate No.3 of the station.” “No, no need to bother you. We are outside your building now.” I said, satisfactorily. “Why did not you call me then, so that I could have met you in the station? You see, your hot temple has no change at all!” “I just want to confirm if I can find my way by myself.” As I was explaining, the lift door opened.  An old man with little bowed figure and toil worn appearance appeared in front of us. As if we had flown through a time channel, I was almost petrified by this fact. ’My God! Is it the handsome man who was known as Bath’s Prince Charming?” I thought silently. But I had not enough time to sigh with emotion, when Mr. Fang came towards me.
Four hands held each other firmly and tears wetted our eyes and then run down from our wrinkled faces. “Ha-ha, my friend, you have not changed too much yet.” We said to each other simultaneously. But we clearly understood it was a gentleman’s greeting, a typical English politeness.
“Mr. Fang I never imagined, the parting in Bath would be in 20 years time span.” I still indulged in deep sentiment. “No, neither me. But, should we go to my home first, then we’ll have a specific talking.” Mr. Fang suggested.
It is a luxury apartment with floor area about 150 square meters. Looking through its windows, there is a spectacular view. The prosperity of downtown, the surging Huan Pu river and the breathtaking scene of Orient Pearl all under your view as if they were within one stone threw.
Came back to his sitting room, I was also surprised by the decoration inside. Simple but artful and constantly gave me an emotional impact.
As soon as we had sat down, his wife came to us with friendly smile and 3 cups of hot tea as well. The same as all overseas students’ wives, she looked very virtuous and industrious. An impulse of acknowledgment arose to me. “Thank you very much indeed!” I said to her as I stood up to receive the tea with my palms holding. ** Then, I passed one to my dear wife to show my appreciations to her too.
Yes, indeed. Without their hard work and self sacrifice how could we go abroad and thoroughly shift our responsibilities to her for taking care to our elderly parents and young kids? How could our family lives could be going well without their dedicated contribution?
“The time is flying! 20 years passed just in no time.” Mr. Fang’s plaint interrupted my thinking and made me come back to those days when we studied in Bath of England.

(2)

With fluctuating hills covered by evergreen forests, Bath is a famous tour resort. It is about 40 miles away from westward of London. It has rose its fame ever since thousand year ago when a Rome king had conquered England and built a bath palace for his dear concubine around a steam-wreathing hot spring , which now is called as Rome Bath.
A few miles’ away from eastward of the Rome Bath there is a well-known academic institute, the University of Bath. Its campus is located on top of a hill and accompanied by a vast top-hill lake.
One day in September, 1985, I came here for my advanced study in computer simulation after my English training completion in East Anglia. One of the university staff guided me to the Fluid Power Center in Engineering Department. After I talked to my supervisor for my project topic and research methodology, he led me to a huge office with floor area about 40 square meters. Dozen students were filled there for different degrees either by courses or by researches. Among them there were 5 Chinese. students Facing to so many unfamiliar eye sights, I immediately became uneasy. Most of them either slightly nodded to me or said “Hello!” gently. I had no idea how to deal with and just stood beside the door embarrassedly. At that awkward moment, one Chinese student left his desk and came to me. He was a very handsome middle-age man, with a moderate slim figure and pleasingly white face, a pair of large and bright eyes under dense eyebrows. The most impressive thing was his haircut, dark, shining nursed and shaped well.
“Hi! Mr. Li,” he shook my hand and greeted to me in Chinese, “I am XX Fang  from Zhengzhou Warship Research Institute in He Nan Province. You are warmly welcome to join us!” Then, he introduced everyone on site to me and showed me his dormitory. I was deeply affected by his warm heart and started our friendship in this alien land then.
I had a very difficult time to start my research, owning to my poor English and computer foundation, especially the latter. As a student to pursue a degree of computing science, I had never had a single tough to computer keyboard before!
On the contrary, Mr. Fang always had his days in his project conduction, because he had sound linguistic and technological foundation. He was brought up in Shanghai and had systematic English training ever since his childhood. His technical education had never been disturbed by political turmoil, since he had graduated from university of Shanghai Jiao Tong before the cursed Culture Revolution. He kindly gave me a hand in my difficulty.
Thanks to Mr. Fan’s help, I had quickly got over the crisis and managed to develop my project well.  
In 1980s, Chinese economic reform was still on its nursery. The foreign currency reservation was very limited. In the mean time, we were still struggling against poverty. The average of monthly salary for a common staff was as low as RMB50 Yuan. Therefore, to spend all efforts for money saving was Chinese’s common habit.
As a TC award owner, I was able to get 200 pounds’ allowance from Chinese Embassy in London every month. It was an astronomical income comparing with our monthly salary in motherland. However, it was still not easy to maintain our dignity of “visiting scholar” by this mere 200 pounds. Moreover, we all had a secret target in mind: save every penny to buy some duty-free electronics, such as refrigerator, color TV, washing machine etc., to reward our wives and kids who are suffering and longing at home. At that time, these items were real rarities in Chinese market, and were strictly controlled by quota specially enjoyed by people had been abroad.
To fulfill such a sacred target, Mr. Fang and I helped each other and developed a lot of fanny stories.
(to be continued)

[ Last edited by wenzili at 2006-6-3 11:54 AM ]

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Post time 2006-5-30 19:19:28 |Display all floors

The Days Studying in England

3)

In December of 1985, I met my first winter vacation in Bath. Since almost all of local and continental students went home, only some overseas students from Asia, Africa or Latin America had left. For management convenience, the university authority integrated all students scarcely located around whole campus in one dormitory, Wessex House, where Mr. Fang currently lived in. He got a thrifty idea and asked me to hand back my room in Eastwood and move to Wessex to share his room. It was a real economical way, because the accommodation expense was so expensive and almost cost half of our scholarship. As decent visiting scholars, we didn’t want to damage our dignity by illegal laboring, such as served as restaurant waiters, station porters etc. Therefore, to cut down our daily expenditure as much as possible was our only mean to save money.
Thank to his help, I completed all necessary procedures and moved to his room successfully. In this way, we not only had saved a considerable amount of money, but also had pulled out the loneliness and homesick crisis during the Chinese New Year period.
It was the late morning of Christmas Eve in 1985. Mr. Fang and I went down the campus hill for Christmas shopping. After about one and half hours’ selecting to meats and vegetables, we dropped in a famous electronic shop, Gatewick to see my favorable camera. For unknown reasons, the shop assistor did not allow us to bring our shopping bag in. We had to leave it beside the display windows. To our surprise, when we returned back, the bag having already disappeared! “Oh, dear!” we shouted with intensive dismay. “I never imagined the thief would be interested in vegetables even in England!” Mr. Fang kept complaining. It was true; no any theft case had ever been reported by local media since we settled down in Bath.
In that evening, a horrible TV broadcast spoiled the joyful fete of Christmas Eve. A live report was shown on TV screen which snatched thousands people’s hearts. There were dozen of heavily armed policemen lying on snow ground. They seemed to be besieging a strange subject beside the steel bridge nearby Bath Railway Station. Obviously, it must be a terror case occurred. From the thrilling TV scene on-site, we found an explosive expert with a strange bag running wild. This legendary hero took no care to his own safety and had a hard time on the icy field. The fete air was frozen. We could not help admiring those brave people who were going sacrifice their lives, their festival pleasure to our society. However, at the agonizing moment, the story had a dramatic turning, when the expert reached to a shelter place far away from the bridge. We found, from the focused camera lens, he was cautiously opening the parcel. “Why is the bag looked so familiar?” I asked. “Oh, my God! It is my shopping bag!” Mr. Fang cried out in start.
Then, the screen was switched to a funny scene when the reporter had deliberately shown what were on the expert’s hands. That was nothing but a bundle of discounted vegetables with yellow tags! A thundering laugh blasted out everywhere, which recovered the festival happiness to all residents in Bath, except for Mr. Fang and me, since we were so regretted to our negligence which caused so many policemen lying on snow almost whole afternoon for nothing.
After that, we’d managed to get the details. In that morning, one unemployed fellow was wandering nearby electronic shops and worrying about the Christmas gifts to his craving kids. He suddenly found a deserted bag lying under the display windows of Gatewick. He considered it was the very gift given by Santo and hastily went back to give his kids a surprise. In midway home he opened the parcel in anxiety. But the finding really disappointed him. He threw it away in despair.
It was wartime when a territory dispute between Great Britain and Argentina had been escalated to a fight, which disturbed people’s peaceful lives so much that even a minor event might trigger a huge crisis. That was why a finding report to the peculiar parcel nearby the railway bridge would have caused such panic.

(4)

For same reason as last Christmas vacation, Mr. Fang moved to my dormitory, Eastwood in summer vacation of 1986.
Different from Wessex, Eastwood is a 3 stores mansion with 3 flats in total. In each storey, 3 students share 1 flat and all students shared the only kitchen and bathroom.
Except for us, all my other neighbors are from the countries of West Asia or Middle East in this building. Since the space was so limited, we were able to meet each other from time to time.
Found us sharing one room, they all had considered it remarkable simply because they might have not seen it yet before. I always felt several strange eye sights came to my back, when I cooking, washing or even walking. Sometimes, they even grimaced each other. I really was repulsed by it. But I did not know why? After a while when we got along well, I asked one of them what’s the reason? “ Oh, yes,” he told me frankly “we thought you were guys before. But, we were also puzzled who should play the female role between such 2 vigorous gentlemen? Now, we fully understood it is your custom.”. His explanation shocked me and made me sick.
Because in early 1980’s, we never got such concepts as homosexual, ADS in Chinese dictionary, even in some west countries it was a new phantom appearing and wandering in horizon. His words deeply hurt us even now when we recalled this scene, we still fill sick. We sadly realized that was the real meaning of “poverty means humiliation”!
In the early February of 1986, the icy wind were frequently sweeping through whole islands, just like the descriptions in famous novel <Wuthering Heights>. The chilly wind had not only frozen the environment, but also our hearts. In this case, no one dared to open the door, needless to say going out for traveling. However, just at this very moment, we decided to travel to middle England and north Scotland, simply because it was a slack touring season. Just little more than 20 pounds spending would make you travel as far as to Edinburgh in Scotland. Plus the transfer service, you might get off and have sightseeing all the way.
In this way, we started from Bath, then visited Manchester, York (Shakespeare’s hometown), Leis, Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland, where we visited our Chinese friends, colleagues and ledged there to save accommodation fees. Sometimes, it was too cold for shopkeepers to open the shops. Whole street was deadly silent. We found no where to shield ourselves free from the coldness and had to hide in a help-yourself photo-taking booth for a while to warm up our numbed toes and fingers.
We had a thrifty cross-country journey but with a lot of funs. Nowadays, when we are recalling this situation, we have still felt very excited and worthwhile.
Yes, without such legendary experiences, how can we get such vivid topics to talk about today?  

(5)

It was getting dark, when we were racily talking and sipping the fragrant tea. Our memory to those experiences arose us lots of fun and excitement but deeply affected our wives, as audiences who were fully absorbed in our misery with tears.
If we said the past life in over seas study left us some grieved memory, than the reality has multiply rewarded us already. After our graduation from the University of Bath, we all returned home and dedicated to our motherland’s economic reformation. Fates had driven us to leading roles in different but famous JV companies respectively. Our kids had all been brought up and had pursued their higher degrees in some developed countries. Therefore, we had jointly drawn a conclusion: the change of our fate beneficial from the advanced study was well worth the hardship during the days in England.

** It is a sort of Chinese courtesy. Standing up means to show a respect to who is coming to you. Holding something with two palms means to show the favorite and seriousness to something given to you.

[ Last edited by wenzili at 2006-6-3 11:54 AM ]

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Post time 2010-9-4 04:26:27 |Display all floors
Thank you for such an enilightening post wenhzili.  It has been a pleasure to read it.

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