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"Computer game" + "Stock market" - Common Application Essay

johnbian8308 2 / -  
Dec 22, 2008   #1

Computer game whets my interest in English

I was born a soccer fan, and no boy can resist computer game at the age of 11.

In 2002 when Championship Manager 4, a computer-simulated soccer game, was sold on the market, I bought it without hesitation. This purchase changed my life. After I loaded the game, to my surprise, the whole game was in English. From the beginning, I kept inviting promising players like Rubinho to my team. With limited English I did not know the word "snub" in their reply and waited for days, only to find out that they did not come. With anger, I gave them offers again, but the word "snub" again appeared in the reply. I was upset, as they did not come even though they had "snubbed" my offer. Then I found the button "resign", thinking that I may re-sign them using this method. Instead, I was out of job. My first experience with Manchester United ended after I had been hired for only days.

The second time I played this game was a week later. This time, I had looked up the words "snub" and "resign" in the dictionary and was confident that I would succeed. But my effort was again in vain. When a match ended, I ecstatically planned to praise all my players. Then I found the choice "fine," which I would surely use to praise my players' "fine" performance. But after I had "fined" them, I found again that I was fired because my act caused a wide range of protest in the team. My second experience ended after only a friendly match.

After many times of trials and errors, I gradually understood the whole game. At the same time, I learned many English words about soccer. Little by little, I had an interest in English and was glad to learn English.

My interests in English have propelled me to learn English by a number of means: listening to the Voice of America, attending English-speaking contests, making friends from English-speaking countries, and reading magazines such as Reader's Digest and the Economist.

I also went to my school library every week to read volumes of English literature. I had around me the environment I loved the most-quiet space and shelves of books. In the world of English books, there were many unexpected encounters. I not only met the contemporary works of Joseph Heller, such as Catch-22,which are full of dark humor, but also perused the up-to-date science books such as A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking. I borrowed these books to my home. These great works spellbound me, and I eagerly read and read and read them until I finished them, forgetting about the usual appeals of computer games. I did not just glance through these books or swallow them, instead I was carefully examining and digesting them.

Reading English books has changed my view of world. Many books only have the English version in China, such as We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, and 1984 by George Orwell. After reading these books, I observe the society with an objective and balanced view.

As I reflect upon my experiences of the past, I am surprised that it was my love for soccer and computer games that has drawn me into the immense world of English; English has in turn broadened and changed my Weltanschauung with the world's diverse culture, history, and people.

My love for stock market

When I was about four years old, the neighbors always asked me, "what does your father do?" I would answer proudly with my childish voice, "my dad trades futures contracts." This answer typically ignited laugh that made me feel even more proud of my father and his unconventional job. Years later my mother invested her savings in the stock market but suffered a huge loss. It was my parents' experiences in the financial markets that made me want to try my own hands in the stock market as well.

After I read Jeremy J. Siegel's The Future for Investors this year, I felt somewhat clear and confident. With my good mathematical skills, I even dreamed of becoming an analyst like Benjamin Graham after I would get enough experiences.

I started to play FSX, a virtual stock market based on American stock market, as the Chinese stock market is not mature and regular as said in Siegel's book. Each player was given 10 million dollars in the virtual market. I chose two "value" stocks, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. At that time, however, these two stocks had already dropped from $60 to about $5. I felt that it was my chance and bought one million shares each without hesitation. They had a strong performance at first, earning me a 30% profit at one point. I was happy and kept on telling people around me that I was earning virtual money in the millions. Even when the news broke out that these two companies were to be taken over by the government, I felt no alarm, as I believed the power of U.S. government, like the Chinese one, would further push the stocks up.

But the government's taking control proved to be a disaster for these two companies. In only one day, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae dropped to less than $1. Consequently, my portfolio shrank to 20% of what it was once worth. Now, I almost have no courage to look at my portfolio for another sight, which has become "toxic wastes" as investment. I also tell my first experience in the stock market as a joke to my friends now, telling them that stocks are so risky and picking stocks needs much more than I had thought. Upon thorough reflection on my first experience in stock market, I realized that there are great differences between the virtual stock market and the real one. First, the players' actions in the virtual stock market cannot affect the price in the real market. Secondly, there is no dividend in the virtual stock market. These two factors make the virtual market more speculative. Yet these differences cannot be the excuse for my failure. More understanding of economic theories as well as their backgrounds instead is needed to pick a stock. Had I realized that the government's taking over Fannie and Freddie was such a debacle, I would have sold the two stocks earlier. Only when I understand the government's policy can I finally benefit from the market in reality.

Previous setbacks will not discourage me from investing in the stock market in the future. In fact, I am not interested in earning money, whether real or virtual, but the excitement to analyze figures attracts me. Sometime in the future, I will have another try in the real stock market, as a pure part-time hobby with pure thoughts and real money but no greed at all.

Zhang Yuanxi

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