regaining focus

My last post was in China. Since then, I’ve been running around like crazy – or at least I feel like that. It’s not intentional procrastination, but somehow, I’ve found it difficult to get myself together after getting back. It is in striking contrast to how focused I was when I was there. I had to focus there, we went into the office at 9 and left at 5 everyday. It was expected of us – and obviously, we wanted to make them happy – like they’d spent their money well by inviting us. There was a sort of energy and focus there that I found to be really motivating and helpful. The students were attentive during our presentations and asked lots of questions. I wanted to bring this energy back here, and go with it. Maybe it was just jetlag that kind of threw me off, I don’t know, but I’m getting that back. So where am I going with this – what does it have to do with this class. It has to do with the discrepancy in motivation between the Chinese students and the American ones. I could use to learn a lot from their focus and drive. I’m still not really sure how they get it. They are forced to sit for four 2 hour long classes a day in undergrad, but in high school, I had a long classes with few breaks. I still didn’t focus that well? I think the fear of failure is greater than what has been instilled in my generation – or my generation as an upper middle class suburban kid.

I had just met a Chinese woman who has her phd, when she asked me “why are you doing this, do you hate yourself?” While she was a friend of a friend, I still thought this was a brazen sort of question for someone you’d just met. Taken aback, I said “no, I just decided grad school was right for me because I still wanted to learn more formally.” Then, I asked her why she had gotten her phd. She replied because she felt like she had to. I was surprised. I didn’t know it was expected of her or anyone. I had figured it was encouraged and maybe pushed more, but definitely not required. Expectations are just different – and they’ve been instilled in them. When I was there, I got some of that instilled in me, and now it’s time to put it to work. Hopefully, my adviser is pleased that my work output speed increases.

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