Jobless and Homeless 4 Years After University Graduation

Liu Ning being interviewed by the Chengdu Business Daily journalist.


From QQ:

Gaokao Sciences Top Scorer and University of Science and Technology of China Graduate Hasn’t Found a Job After Four Years, Drifts Homeless on the Streets

Father searches for son

After searching over a dozen internet cafés, 55-year-old Liu Guohua finally found his son Liu Ning engrossed in playing computer games at an internet café on Tongjin Road.

25-year-old Liu Ning’s hair was messy, his face pale, as he devoted his entire attention to the computer screen. Liu Guohua stood behind him, hesitating for a second before patting him on his shoulder. The latter turned his head around, startled as he beheld his noticeably upset father.

Eight years ago, Liu Ning became the top sciences scorer [in the Gaokao college entrance exam] of a certain county in Liangshan with a near 650 score, testing into the University of Science and Technology of China. Four years ago, Liu Ning graduated from college yet was unable to find an ideal job. He started to lose himself in the internet, wandering everywhere.

>On the 6th day of the new lunar year, a kind-hearted person noticed that a young “homeless person” has already spent three consecutive nights sleeping on a bench in the Jiulidi campus of Southwest Jiaotong University. He helped contact the “homeless person’s” family and the next day, Liu Guohua rushed over from his hometown, but his son had once again disappeared…

The call before he disappeared, “you embarrass the entire county”

After his son disappeared, what Liu Guohua regretted the most was the last phone call. “I shouldn’t have been so harsh.”

On the night of February 4th, Liu Ning found a public payphone to call home. Ever since he lost his mobile phone in November of last year, he hasn’t had a set method of contact. In the call, he first asked his family how things have been, if they had a good [Chinese] new year, before saying he has been i the Southwest Jiaotong University area for several days now.

“At the time, I thought he was asking his family for money again,” Liu Guohua recalled. Ever since Liu Ning graduated in 2010, most of the time he hasn’t had work, with all of his living expenses being provided for by his family. In contrast, before going to university, his son was the top scorer in the sciences of the county, who had been admitted into a famous university on account of his outstanding academics. The huge difference between the years of accumulated honors and the failure after graduating from college made Liu Guohua lose his temper. This phone call lasted for over 40 minutes. IN the call, Liu Guohua said some harsh words to his son, “I say, you’re simply an embarrassment to the family, an embarrassment to the entire county. Before college, you were well-regarded in the entire county seat, but now when others ask about you, I don’t even dare say.”

Afterward, Liu Guohua also said: “It would be very easy for me to deal with you. I just won’t pick up any of your calls, and just block all calls with a Chengdu area code.” Liu Ning’s mother also answered the phone, “simultaneously cried and scolded our son, ‘hating iron for not becoming steel’ [expressing disappointing in failed expectations].”

Their son hung up. The next day, an old man called Liu Guohua’s mobile phone: “Your son is on a bench in the school, and has already slept there for three days now, in such cold weather…”

The silent meeting in the internet cafe, startled as he beheld his father

When he first answered the phone, Liu Guohua even wondered if this was another way his son was asking for money from his family, but he very quickly dismissed it. On February 6th, the seventh day of the new lunar year, he immediately set out to Chengdu first thing in the morning, but he son had once again disappeared. Every day, Liu Guohua went to the internet cafes near the campus searching, showing the owners of the internet cafes photos to see if they recognized his son, but everyone only shook their heads.

February 7th, he deposited 300 yuan in his son’s bank account and on the third day, he noticed that the balance on the account was less 100 yuan, putting him at ease. “This meant he was still safe [alive], had withdrew money.” After investigating where his son had withdrawn money from, Liu Guohua went there and waited half the day [to see if he could run into his son], without success.

After 5 days of searching, Liu Guohua finally saw his son. Yesterday, when Liu Guohua walked into an internet cafe on Tongjin Road, Liu Ning was engrossed in playing an online game. Liu Guohua stood behind him, hesitated for a second, getting control of his emotions. Then, he lightly patted his son’s shoulder with his hand, and said: “Let’s get out of here.”

A Liu Ning with messy hair and an oily face turned around, startled as he looked at his father behind him. Then, without a word, he turned off the computer, picked up his backpack, and walked out the internet cafe’s doors. The boss of the internet cafe says Liu Ning had been coming to the internet cafe regularly the past few days to go online. The internet fee card still had over 40 yuan in credit.

On the road back to a small hotel, the father and son pair were silent. After a long time, Liu Guohua finally spoke: “Have you had lunch?” “Yeah,” Liu Ning answered softly.


At 6pm, a Liu Ning that had just come out of the internet cafe and his father were sitting on a hotel bed together. He was wearing a dark coat and a pair of jeans covered with stains. Because of the long time he has been staying in internet bars, his skin was somewhat pale. IN the hotel, Liu Ning accepted an exclusive interview with this Chengdu Business Daily journalist, sorting out his experiences in university and after graduation.

On being a top science scorer

Thesis didn’t pass, took another year before getting diploma

Chengdu Business Daily reporter (hereafter “Journalist”): How long have you been in Chengdu before you father found you today (10th)?

Liu Ning: I returned to Chengdu from Hefei last August.

Journalist: What kind of jobs have you found/held?

Li Ning: Actually, I’ve had quite a lot of jobs during my time in Chengdu. At first, I found a customer service job in a state-owned enterprise, but right from the beginning they brought up all these rules, constantly repeating a lot of very simple things, and there had to be training too. I found that annoying, so after a month, I quit. Then I found another job, making webpage games, but there would be 4 months of training, during which there would be no pay, nor food and accommodations, and whether or not one would be hired officially afterward was uncertain. so after some thought, I didn’t agree to it.

Journalist: What major did you study at the University of Science and Technology of China?

Liu Ning: Electronic science and technology. I should have graduated in 2010, but because my thesis didn’t pass, it took me another year, getting my degree in 2011 July.

On the four years after graduation

Found a few that were all not ideal, so gave up

Journalist: What work did you find after getting your degree?

Liu Ning: At the time, I worked for an internet gaming company in Hefei. The monthly salary was about 2000 yuan [~330 USD], and I even got around 3000 yuan [~500 USD] as a year-end bonus, which isn’t bad for that area. But I only worked there for 9 months before resigning. The main reason was because I had to work night shifts, and what more, I did not get along with my manager, feeling he was always picking on me.

Journalist: Then what happened afterward?

Liu Ning: I found a few more jobs in Hefei, but none of them were ideal compared to that first one.

Journalist: Did you try to find a job in Chengdu? What was your source of income?

Liu Ning: I had about 6000 yuan in savings from previously working in Hefei. When I used all of that, I had to ask for money from my family. The jobs I found weren’t very ideal, so I eventually just gave up.

On homeless life

Bought snacks for [Chinese] New Year’s Eve, and spent the night in an internet cafe

Journalist: Then what have you been doing in Chengdu?

Liu Ning: Mainly playing, reading novels, sleeping, going to internet cafés. Around December last year, my three month rental was up and I didn’t continue renting. So I basically started a period of “homeless” life in Chengdu. In the daytime, I usually take the bus to go around sightseeing. I’ve been to Wuhou Temple, but the entrance ticket was too expensive so I just walked around outside. At night, I usually spend the night in an internet café, mainly sleeping. Sometimes I’ll sleep on the streets.

Journalist: Where did you spend Chinese New Year?

Liu Ning: [Chinese] New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day were both spent in an internet café. On New Year’s Eve, I bought some snacks and spent the entire night in the internet café. I was going to call my family and wish them a happy new year, but then I thought there’s nothing much to say so I didn’t call.


“The main problem is still mine”

Journalist: Do you think this way of living is normal?

Liu Ning: This month has indeed been very difficult. But when I walk on the street or sit on the bus, listening to people’s idle conversations and listening to their working lives, I feel like an an outsider, and it is very relaxing.

Journalist: Have you thought about what brought you to where you are now?

Liu Ning: I have given that too much thought by now, and I think the main problem is still mine. From elementary school to high school, my grades have always been very good. When I got into the University of Science and Technology of China, I was secretly hoping that I might become a great scientist like Einstein, or Hawking, even change the entire world. But after entering university, my grades were average, and compared to my fellow students, I was just ordinary. Moreover, I felt I didn’t have the brilliance or madness of a genius. However, when it comes to actual life, to be like the vast majority of people, to find a job, get married, have children, and make money to support a family, I find that really boring and pointless.

Journalist: I hear you’ve previously asked “what’s the meaning of life”?

Liu Ning: It was just a random question. Mainly I just feel I can’t see the meaning or goal in the way people live their lives, everything so mediocre. For instance, if it were wartime, would I have more value, more accomplishments? Just like in the past when I liked playing online games, it was because in the game I could lead companions in getting through many difficulties [pass levels, defeat enemies], and be recognized [praised] for it. Actually, I’ve always understand these [games] were illusory [virtual] things.

Journalist: Now that your Dad has found you, are you going home with him?

Liu Ning: I originally planned to go find a job as a website manager after the [Chinese] new year period, so that I can support myself first before deciding what to do next. But considering the current circumstances, I will probably follow my Dad to my older sister’s place, but right now I actually haven’t thought it through yet.


Comments from QQ:


On the one hand, we should rethink our education system. On the other hand, we should provide more guidance in shaping college students’ perspectives on life, on the world, and their values, achieving development where people are placed at the center, allowing people to make full use of their talents.


Online games in China are all over the place, to the point where even ads for those zombie games have been made into cartoons for kindergarten children to watch. It’s extremely disagreeable, and very poisonous! What’s more poisonous than opium, heroin, and smog are these zombie games, poisoning the teenagers and children’s minds, full of foul atmosphere and chaotic thinking! These game developers care about nothing but making money! Extremely detestable!!

ヾ小 城ヽ:

The value of high education is getting lower and lower. Many college students waste their time playing computer games in their dormitory, while those who did not get into college either either learn a trade or make a living some other way, but after four years, college students have spent over 100,000 RMB and still may not get anything [a good jobs] for it…. This is a very common problem now.


I am an elementary school teacher and personally think I am a fair person. For example, I never criticise China’s football players and coaches because at least China’s football team is still top 100 in the world, while China’s education is nearly at the bottom of the ranks!!!


Taking tests depends on one’s abilities, while work depends on fathers [connections]…


Pathetic exam-oriented Chinese education. I graduated thirteen years ago and realized this problem: those kids who were troublemakers in school are now driving BMWs, while the lives of those who conformed to the rules are now…


Truly sad! It has all become a society focused on money now, where finding a decent job without money or connections is way too difficult. With money and connections, you don’t need to graduate from a famous university and still qualify [be hired, get the job].

Images: NetEase


Written by Lisha Huang


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