Why the US? – JC Wee (University of Michigan ‘21)


“Congratulations! We in PETRONAS are happy to inform you that you’re offered a full-ride scholarship to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering!

…and you will be completing your bachelor’s degree in the United States.”

When I was younger, if someone asked me where would I want to pursue my degree, I would say the UK as my answer – mainly because I’m used to their system and most of the people I know study there. Having scored 10 A’s for my SPM and being offered a scholarship to study abroad in Mechanical Engineering (which is what I want to do), I was elated. However, the elation didn’t last long when I knew that I was offered to study in the US instead of the UK.

At first, I was skeptical. I never thought I’d see myself studying here, but I went ahead and accepted the offer just to give it a shot. Little did I know, after spending my time in Taylor’s ADP and here in Michigan, I found out that I love the American education system better. If I had the opportunity to travel back in time, I would’ve convinced my 18-year old self to get excited to study in the States because here, while majoring in something as time-consuming as engineering, I still have room to explore my avocations which in return are beneficial to what I’m primarily doing by taking classes related to them.

So far, I’ve taken three French classes, a class on intercultural communications, and a microeconomics class (I’ll also be taking a class on European civilization for my study abroad program in France this summer). Honestly, I can’t emphasize how much these classes have motivated me to become a better engineer in the future. In the intercultural communications class, for example, I was exposed to the fact about how Mattel had disastrously failed to market their Barbie dolls in China just because they didn’t recognize the fact that Chinese parents prioritize their kids’ education from a young age. I reflected on that and I realized that to be a good engineer, being aware of others’ cultures is important to take note of in order to succeed in the field especially if we are working on a global scale.

I have to say, the decision I made 3 years ago was one of the best I’ve ever made.