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Dating 101: change majors?

Man meets woman at Beijing's 8-Minute Dating club (photo courtesy of the club, 2004)

Ralph Jennings is a journalist and long time resident of China. He currently lives in Taipei. From mid-2000 to 2006, he had an advice column in the 21st Century weekly newspaper in which he answered letters from thousands of students and young professionals. Below is a letter from the archive, with an introduction by Jennings.

Meeting members of the opposite sex of course doesn't just challenge the youth of China. But a bouquet of social pressures that start from childhood nip off most of the nation's female-initiated romances before they bud: you're too young for a boyfriend (mom talking), we sent you to college for education not messing around (parents talking), women appear too "easy" if they make a move (society talking) and you're not good enough for the rich, handsome, charismatic guy who everyone else has eyes on (society again). Demoralising? Ask Judy.

Student letters to a foreign agony uncle

Dear Ralph,

I've been living for 22 years. I have experienced and learned a lot. Now I'm a junior in college. I'm happy and I love my life and everything around me. But there is still one thing I don't understand. I never think of myself as introverted. I'm always willing to help others at any time. I have many female friends who get well along with me. They say I'm kind and humorous. But it is unbelievable that I have not even one male friend. Worse, I'm afraid of talking with male students in class. Sometimes boys do talk to me, but our conversations are always so formal and stiff that I can hardly stand it. I don't know how to communicate with boys. What should I do?

Judy, September 2009

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+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
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