While we waited for the final scores, my mom was sick. She was too tired from managing the house, taking care of my grandmother and us, my grandmother’s funeral, and working full time. I took my mom on the back of the bicycle to her doctor’s appointments.
When the scores came, mine was 310; the colleges accepted the minimum of 290. My best girlfriend Wei-lin had 320. We knew that we couldn’t get into a famous college or university; they needed a minimum of 350. There were 16 classes in our school. Ninety-nine percent of the super fast (Rocket) class passed the college admission line. Two percent of the regular fast class passed, but none from the other classes. We were in the top 1% of all high school graduates in China that year to attend college.
The next step was to file a form stating which college and major we wanted, usually to list five colleges and for each college to choose two majors. Of course, the higher the score, the greater the possibility to go to your first choice. I had merely passed. I didn’t expect to go to a dream school. My parents had told me that they didn’t expect me to pass with so many things going on.
After we sent in our choices, we waited for acceptances from the schools. We waited. The Geology College accepted my girlfriend in my city. I felt anxious. My mom asked me to take out all of the books that I had already packed in a box. She wanted me to study and review to prepare for next year’s national entry exam. I just couldn’t accept that I had to try again.
I never felt that tired in all my life. I was exhausted. I told my mom that I didn’t want to try again. If I didn’t get accepted, then I would just go to work. I felt that maybe I wasn’t college material. But my mom said, “you really should take out your books and study now before any more time is wasted. I don’t want you to be regretful in the future and I don’t want you to blame me for not helping you. You always said that you wanted to go to college. It will be easier for you because you could be more concentrated next year.” Indeed, I did want to go to college and I wanted to go abroad like my uncle.
Finally, I did take my books out of the boxes. I seriously considered preparing the study plan for the next year’s exams. The next day, I received an acceptance letter from the Sichuan University of Agriculture, Forestry Department. I had listed the college on the form, but I didn’t list this department. I just couldn’t imagine why, and how forestry could be an individual science department. But whatever, I was ready to go. Anything was better than staying home and trying again the following year.
The next step was the physical exam from “head to toe.” That day, the hospital was filled with students. We were in lines at each department for check-ups. Everything went fine until I went to the X-ray lab. I noticed that I didn’t get a simple stamp like everyone else. The doctor wrote something down instead; he would not tell me anything. Just called “next.” I started to feel really awful. I didn’t know what was wrong with me and I might never go to college after all. When I finally went home, I cried very hard. I thought that this must be my fate. My mom asked me what was the matter. I hardly could explain. My mom just comforted me by saying “There shouldn’t be anything wrong. You don’t feel sick, no fever. You eat well...” My mom wanted to make sure so she took me to our neighbor doctor’s home that night and asked her to arrange another X-ray for me the next day in the hospital where she worked, the same one where my grandmother had been in and died. I went there the next day. The doctor checked almost everything and told me, “You are fine, just a tiny shadow on one side of your lung. It could be due to a number of reasons. It usually goes away easily. The college won’t treat you like a sick person.” Somehow, I felt better right away. I went home and waited for the college’s second notice stating the completion of the admission process.