A different scholarship essay. :P

I really enjoyed writing this.  I hope you enjoy reading this.


The sheng nu of China are a group of female young urban professionals. In addition to their sophistication and experience they have an enviable income.  A sheng nu enjoys eating delicious food from different restaurants.  But she can’t eat too much, or she’ll ruin her goddess-like figure, which she always manages to flatter with professional-looking, stylish apparel. Such a desirable life must take place in a shimmering, cosmopolitan city. In China, that city is Shanghai. Shanghai’s history as a port city has nurtured it into having a worldly population.  Shanghai must be perfect.

This glitzy, modern city with these powerful women is what my mind’s eye sees when it pictures Shanghai.  Where did I get this picture? I’m not really sure.  Probably a collection of many factors, but one source in particular, more powerful and more dangerously misleading than all of them: my own imagination of what perfection should entail.  My wanderlust heart is not immune to the overly-human tendency to covet, so I aspire to be a sheng nu, living in Shanghai, because then, life would be perfect.

But this idea of a perfect life is only a castle in the air, and one that begs to be shattered.  Shanghai is bound to disappoint me in some way.  The sparkling, clean, gorgeous image in my mind may meet a dingy, dirty, ugly side of the city that hasn’t been explored.  A case-in-point: Singapore.  I had heard about the country’s legendary obsession with cleanliness and I expected to be awed and amazed by Singapore’s quality maintenance.  To my surprise, the subway floor was old and spotted, there were cigarette butts lying in the gutters of residential areas, and storefronts located away from the main downtown center were shabby.  This single experience has made me realize that the more idealistic and romantic the place in your imagination is, the more shards will fall from the windows of your palace of dreams.

So, after my wake up call, after the castle in the air vanishes and in its place there is a pile of shards and bricks, what am I going to do? More importantly, who am I going to be?

Someone once said that strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but also in the ability to start over. This is what I will do.  I will take the bricks and build myself a new house, not as nice as the castle, but this one will be grounded in reality.  This new house will be strong.  It will be more receptive to the visitor called change.  Best of all, it won’t vanish, like the castle in the air.

Before a sheng nu grows up, she is a shao nu.  The main difference is where she lives.  The shao nu lives in the castle.  The sheng nu lives in the house.


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