Monday 11 March 2002, Language School Year, a small town, England

I had an interview with another A-level school today. I quite enjoyed these visits as each and every one of them looked magnificent. This school was certainly no exception: it had a large and well-maintained campus in a peaceful town outside London; its buildings were Victorian and yet very modern inside; and of course there was a grand chapel sitting in the middle of its beautiful campus. In additions, the students, dressed in their smart uniforms, made the school feel just perfect.

The interview itself was conducted with the headmaster and teachers whose subjects I planned to study. Given I wanted to study Mathematics, Physics and Economics, I was asked a few questions in each field. By this time, my English had improved enough so that I didn’t worry too much about Mathematics and Physics. It was only economics that I was not too sure. Luckily, the first question was about the role of government intervention in the economy, a topic that was well covered in China. Therefore, I was able to answer without hesitation: “Free market left at its own were doomed to fail as capitalists exploited all the surplus values from the workers. Only a central government ran by proletariats would work.” The teacher gave me a big smile and nod.

The second question was a lot harder. Although I could argue that I was again limited by my English, such as my unfamiliarity of either the word “chancellor” or “exchequer”, the truth was that even if I was asked in Chinese who the chancellor of the exchequer was, I would have no idea.

Finger crossed that I could still get an offer.

Score: Me: 3, English: 3,078


PS: In early 2018, when I was doing undergraduate alumni interview for Stanford, I got the chance to visit this beautiful school again. As I waited for my interviewee and enjoyed the campus’ scenic view, I thought about whether to go and meet my own interviewer from 16 years earlier. After thinking about how I had answered his questions back then, I didn’t have the courage at the end. But in case you are reading this, can I say a big thank you for not laughing out loudly back then. It must not be easy.