International Students

PASSPORT TO THE FUTURE - Episode Two - My Life is Mine to Run

PASSPORT TO THE FUTURE - Episode Two - My Life is Mine to Run

At twenty one years of age Ben feels a little bit like an outsider when he’s around his Chinese peers in England.

As most of his coursemates fall into a relaxing summer break, Ben is busy plotting how to improve his existing business in China. He’s also drawing plans to set up another business in England when he completes his Business degree at the University of Derby.

“Some people who are 21...if their family is rich, they are always sleeping, playing computer games, they have messy relationships, go to the bar...”

Ben pauses to consider his words.

“their family situation is different, they are brought up in a different environment… I am more mature than them and if I hang out with them they just always eat at restaurants and buy luxury products. I think it is not useful.”

Though Ben finds it difficult to integrate with the Chinese student community in Derby, he does appreciate being a part of social groups in China, particularly communities that will help him to develop his maturity and provoke thought.

“My best friends are like me. They are very mature and all run a business, but none of them have a good degree because they think experience in society is better than a degree.”

Finding a way out of poverty

Ben owes his maturity, strong will and industriousness to his father, an astute businessman who worked his way out of poverty to support his family.

“My father was very poor when he was young. When my father was nine, my grandfather died and my father, grandmother and his younger brother lived in poverty. My father went to work and he was not a boss in the beginning. He worked for other people to help them sell cars. He would sell cars that did not have to go through the government to be checked. This is a big market in China, especially in my hometown and it used to be legal. But when the laws in China changed my father moved into another industry.

He began to run a business with my uncle - my mother’s father. This was a business in the steel industry. When my father earns the money, he buys property. Though my father is often tired, he is motivated. He is a man with ambition. He always shares his experiences with me and teaches me how to be independent and how to deal with people and forge different relationships. This is why I feel I am more mature than people of my same age. It is because of what I have been taught by my father, ”

As Ben stresses the importance of his father as a role model his eyes twinkle with admiration.

Perks of running your own business

When Ben completes the last year of his degree in Derby he wants to continue running his own business - to put his knowledge into practice before he forgets it all - instead of finding employment in a big company.

“When you study, you need to use that knowledge in your life. Sometimes you read a book but you can’t use that knowledge in your life and it all becomes easy to forget. You can’t criticise what you are learning because you have no experience. When I read a textbook, because I’ve had the experience of running a business, it becomes easy to think about how I can apply this for my business. So it's useful to get working experience in society.”

Ben, still keen on pursuing an MBA later on in his life, is intent on constantly improving himself.

“If you work for a company, you will get a salary every month and the salary will be the same. You will not be motivated because of the same salary. While at work, you will be thinking about when work is going to end and your days will be arranged by other people. I don’t like this.

If I run a business, I can be in control of earning money and I can be in control of my wealth. When running a business you will naturally be motivated to think about how you can earn more or improve elements of the business. This is a meaningful life for me.”

Written by
Clarabelle Gerard

Clarabelle Gerard is a content writer and researcher based in Derbyshire. She is interested in issues affecting social mobility and equality of opportunity for students.