Is it possible to choose a college in Europe after graduating from an American curriculum high school, or you have to continue education in the United States? Many families in China want their kids to get an international education but some are not sure if an American high school diploma will get them into European universities. We are here to prove that Dalian American International School education opens university doors all over the world. Michael Wang, DAIS/DHS Class of 2021, chose to go to the United Kingdom after graduation and was happy to share his experience with us.
DAIS: Michael, first of all thank you for this opportunity to talk when you are so busy exploring a new country and studying hard. We hope you’re enjoying Britain!
Let’s take a trip down memory lane. How many years have you been studying at our school? Why did you choose to attend it?
Michael: I’ve been to Dalian Huamei School since 7th grade. Back then, my parents investigated the differences between Chinese and western education systems, and eventually they believed it will be the best for me to study something more practical and widen my outlook. I felt the same way: if someone lives in his or her hometown for the entire life, this person won’t be able to develop higher level thinking skills and understand the diverse world around us. That’s why I chose to go to an international school, which helped me to step out of my comfort zone and to do something bigger in the future.
DAIS: What’s your native language, and what languages do you speak at home? Where did you learn English?
Michael: My native language is Chinese. I studied English since kindergarten. To be honest, I really enjoy the process of learning English, because it’s an essential skill to communicate with people away from our culture. I didn’t systematically learn English outside of school; however, I believe my English skills are enough for conversations with foreign people and to pursue higher education overseas. In my perspective, the key of advancing English skill is to make more friends in the international community, be brave to speak with them, observe how they speak and express their ideas, and eventually you will become a more fluent speaker.
DAIS: Tell us about your family. Where do your parents come from, where did they study, where do they work? Do you have any siblings? What do they do?
Michael: Both of my parents were born in Liaoning province. My dad was born in a very small city, however, his family always had a great passion to study, so my dad and my uncles all attended universities while their classmates chose to drop high school and work for their family. My dad studied chemical engineering for undergraduate and started a company producing chemical materials.
My mom earned her master’s degree in music when I was born. Both my parents and I love to read about Chinese history and biographies of great thinkers, which influenced my determination to study more in depth in liberal arts. I also have a sister who is 12 years younger than me (and a thousand times cuter), she’s currently a 1st grade student in a private elementary school in our hometown.
DAIS: What was your favorite subject at school and who was your favorite teacher?
Michael: My favorite subject was AP World History, taught by Mr. Twaddell. History always intrigued me; I am fascinated to learn more about the world hundreds, even thousands years ago. I also want to know why people from different countries have distinct characters, and how cultural influences form the world we are living today. As our world is becoming more globalized now, I’m thrilled to investigate more about our past interactions.
Mr. Twaddell is a teacher who can answer every question about history; he is like Mr. Google for all his students. Both of us have the same passion toward learning different cultures, even to experience them, we often shared our thoughts and discoveries in museums and galleries, which let us develop a good personal connection.
DAIS: Let’s talk about Student Government and your role as the Huamei President. It’s a great honor to take a leadership role in DAIS/DHS student community. Why did you decide to put your name down for it? What was your biggest success as the president and what you think you could do better?
Michael: I became the vice president of StuGov in my junior year, it was also the first time I joined StuGov community, and when I was a senior, I became the president of StuGov. The reasons for me to do that were very simple, I wanted to make contribution to our community, to organize school events that can make all students happy, and I believed that I can really make this glorious purpose happen.
I think my biggest success was to make everything function as it should. Of course all our StuGov members paid their effort on helping StuGov officers to organize and create events, so I was just the one who paid a little bit more time and effort. As students, we did our best to manage our time between academic studies and Student Government duties, and I’m thankful to all my peers who did this together with me.
DAIS: You organized and took part in lots of school events. What was your favorite one?
Michael: My favorite ones are Monster Mash and Prom. What’s the most funny about this answer is that Monster Mash is the event that StuGov makes the most profits with, whereas Prom is the one which we lost the most money on. Both are big scale events. In Monster Mash, we have a lot of visitors outside of our school, with a great number of volunteers and stuff, the whole event creates a great carnival mood, therefore all people have a role and can enjoy a wonderful evening.
Prom is more interesting, it is the last event for a school year and the farewell event to seniors, all participants have distinct kind of emotions, some feel depressed, some have fun, and some just feel relaxed. As the participants shared their feelings after the prom, I realized that we organized the event really well.
DAIS: What was the hardest part in organizing the prom and how did you overcome it?
Michael: The hardest part was about the price. We communicated a lot with the manager responsible for our prom location, discussed the settings, decorations, and food and drinks. At the beginning the price was really high, however, after our frequent meetings and discussions the price became lower so that StuGov saved a lot of money. This managing experience meant a lot for me and made me more confident about my future.
DAIS: We know you love sports. You were a member of school volleyball and basketball teams and participated in some ACAMIS tournaments. Can you tell us more about that? How does sport help you succeed in life?
Michael: To be honest, I’d never thought of playing volleyball before 10th grade when I joined DAIS volleyball team. Then I discovered that volleyball is in fact the most exciting sport for me. I developed my skills very quickly, and became a starting player in our team. We played a lot of games in local tournaments and earned gold medals in all of them. ACAMIS tournament was one of the most memorable experiences for me in high school, we had a chance to make new friends who enjoyed the same sport, and moreover, we could witness how students from other school paid their efforts on practicing.
I love doing sports, and I believe all people should engage in some sports activities, especially team sports like basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc. They won’t just improve you physically, but will also teach you the importance of friendship and partnership. Nothing is more exciting than cooperating with your fellows to gain victory in a sports game!
DAIS: Looks like you had a very successful all-round school experience that prepared you well for higher education. You got a lot of offers from top rank world universities, and you chose to study in United Kingdom. Why Europe and not the US or Canada? What major did you choose?
Michael’s University Offers
Michael: I applied to many countries, and eventually received offers from the UCL, University of Edinburgh, KCL, Boston University, University of Toronto, etc. I had many options to choose from. To be honest, the US, UK and Canada are all wonderful and charming, however, Britain brought me a sense of mystery and classical environment, and life there seems to be calmer and more relaxed. Therefore, right now I believe that UK is more suitable for me to live and study in.
In UK, you need to choose your future major upon applying to a university. I was accepted to a few colleges there, including the world-renowned number one University College London. However, I wasn’t totally happy with the major I could take there, so to my teachers’ and classmates’ surprise I chose to go to the University of Edinburgh, ranked #16 globally (QS World University Rankings 2022). My major in Edinburgh is a joint degree called “Philosophy and Mathematics”. Thankfully we can study on campus this year and not online, which will enrich my education experience and let me connect with students from all around the world in person.
DAIS: What is your career plan? What you want to do when you finish your education?
Michael: To be honest, I have no idea. For now I will enjoy beautiful and mysterious Scotland and extend my knowledge and skills, and then I will be able to choose among more opportunities.
DAIS: Best of luck, Michael! DAIS school community is proud of you, we wish you every success in your future endeavors.