ask toni & josh

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 November, 2009, 12:00am

Dear Toni

I have always dreamed of attending an Ivy League university, and in the past few years have been striving to achieve my goal. But a major obstacle is standing between me and my ambitious wish: my parents.

They want me to stay in Hong Kong for my tertiary education, and they go ballistic every single time I mention wanting to leave for the US. It's reaching the point where our relationship is becoming strained.

I'm desperate.

Overseas urge

Dear Smarty-pants

Congratulations on being so passionate and committed to your cause. I assume your teachers and guidance counsellors have recommended you apply for such prestigious schools on account of your superior academic results, and that you're not applying just for the sake for a 'brand name'.

Here's a tough truth: as long as your folks are paying for your education and the roof over your head, it can be pretty hard to refuse to do things their way. So, first, consider these pro-HK points.

University in the US is very expensive, especially for a non-US citizen. The cost of living, especially if you are an overseas student, can be extortionate. Compare this to the very reasonable dormitory costs in Hong Kong, and the much cheaper academic fees, not to mention the fact you don't have to pay for air fares.

While the world's top universities are in the US and the UK, Hong Kong actually has many high-ranking institutions - three of the city's universities are in the top 50 in the world.

It will be far easier if you're a non-US citizen to get a job here after graduation than in the US, even with an Ivy League degree.

Your folks may be worried about you being all alone so many thousands of kilometres away.

You could always go to the US for post-graduate work.

If you're still not convinced you could be satisfied in Hong Kong, I suggest you sit down with your teachers and come up with convincing arguments as to why your parents should give in, and how you can make it easier for them.

Are there scholarships or bursaries you might be eligible for? Could you get a part-time job? Do you have a family member near one of the universities you dream of attending who could keep an eye on you, helping your parents sleep better? Is the course you want to study unavailable here?

Studying overseas is a great experience, but your parents must have their reasons. Try to reason with them - and remember, whatever their reservations, they're almost certainly out of love for you.

Hi Josh

I'm moving schools this year, and I want to get a boyfriend, but how do I make myself more attractive to guys?

Boyfriend-less gal

Dear Desperate

In general, the basic rules of attraction are nothing special and apply to both genders. Ensure you're well groomed, smile, have an open mind and be genuine.

Don't bother pretending to be someone or something you're not, because there are few things more embarrassing than being exposed as a fraud. At the end of the day, your circle of friends - and your romantic interest - should love you for being you.

You shouldn't worry about making yourself more attractive to guys. The right guy will like you just the way you are. Doing or saying things just to make someone like you is exhausting.

When you're starting a new stage of your life, like a new school, it's best to start out by finding friends of the same gender. I'm not being sexist here. It's just that people of the same gender generally relate better, and will provide well-needed advice when times are tough. Like when the guy you like won't return your calls.

If you're dead set on making a big splash at your new school, my suggestion is to get involved. Participate in clubs, in sports and any other extra-curricular activities that take your fancy. You'll get to know other students with similar interests, giving you the perfect excuse to bond, get to know each other and work together. And yes, to meet guys.

Make friends with guys you get on well with, whether or not you fancy them, but don't lead them on. Don't ever pretend-flirt to get your way or get something out of a guy, not even with guys you have no (romantic) interest in. Guys' egos bruise easily, and when that happens, we don't want to hang out. Treat us with respect, whether or not you want to date us, and we'll prove to be faithful buddies. And maybe even introduce you to pals we think you'd click with.

Perhaps most importantly, ask yourself why you're so anxious to be in a relationship. Desperation is not attractive, so learn to be happy as you are, and you're more likely to attract a really cool guy who appreciates your confidence, laid-back attitude and inner glow.