Assistant Architect by Xi He Qing Ling
Chapter 229: Extra 2
Shocked at the news, the man eyes widened in surprise. He stared at them openly like he saw a rare species of mammal for the first time, but quickly turned around to recover and stammered: “You, you, you are, are this… uhh.” He seemed a little embarrassed to speak further so he stopped. Even though his reaction wasn’t as calm as the British real-estate agent, he didn’t seem to have any ill-will towards them. While his voice remained neutral, he shook his head and said: “I remember all of the beautiful women that chased you… and you would ignore them. I really thought it was because you were dedicated and only interested in architecture.”
He happily shook hands with Zhang Siyi and asked Gu Yu to give a detailed account of Zhang Siyi’s background. Once he learned that Zhang Siyi was in London to complete RIBA part 2, he was rather envious as he also wanted to apply for a Royal Architect license. Even if he wanted to apply, with a degree from China, he was an unqualified and had no desire to redo his undergraduate studies in England.
“Hey, in this line of business without a Royal Architect license, it’s difficult to move up. In the end, only those with a license can reap the rewards. At least, after your experience in a foreign country and returning to China, the work experience could be added to a resume. However, it’s probably not what you are looking for…..”
The man sighed and continued: “When I heard your request, I also advised you to reconsider and revaluate what you wanted from coming to England. I could help you get a work visa, but to what end? Your professional and social status wouldn’t be as great as it was in China. But…” He glanced at Zhang Siyi and smiled: “I didn’t expect you to bring someone so valuable. When your lover passes the exam, it won’t be a problem for the both of you to get a foothold here.”
Zhang Siyi: ” … ” Having hidden his relationship with Gu Yu for so long, he got goose bumps when he heard himself being called Gu Yu’s lover.
Hearing the man’s optimism, Zhang Siyi felt positive, however, in the back on his mind, due to his friend’s experience, he also thought there was a catch. Even if he graduated with a RIBA 2 license, he needed work experience in England to establish a network of contacts and build a portfolio for his later testing of his Royal Architect license.
Zhang Siyi expressed his concern: “Yesterday, a classmate of mine said architectural positions were hard to come by in England.”
The man asked: “What degree does your classmate have? What was his specialty?”
Zhang Siyi replied: “He has a one-year degree at W University. I‘m not sure of his specialty.”
The man chuckled: “A one-year Master’s wasn’t the same as a gold-plated RIBA 2 license. With the saturation in the market, what Firm is going to hire and train a recent graduate without both a prominent pedigree and work experience? However, your circumstances aren’t the same. British architectural firms often take on Chinese projects. With Gu Yu’s work experience and Chinese license, he will be highly valued. If you can successfully graduate with a RIBA 2 license and since I have connections, with a few introductions to people in the industry, you don’t have to worry about finding a job. For now, just study hard and lay down a solid foundation.”
Consoling him, Gu Yu patted his back and smiled confidently toward him. His calm and positive attitude eased his anxiety. Realizing he wasn’t in the same boat as his friend from University, he became excited. He was eager to take the next step and grow and learn and reach an even higher level. With this in mind, Zhang Siyi wanted to hurry home and start fighting for it!
After they exchanged contact information, they gracefully gave their thanks and said goodbye then returned to their studio apartment.
A few days before school, since the University was close by, Gu Yu bought a bunch of books from the campus bookstore. In the UK, at few hundred each, hardbound text books were expensive, especially the large format ones with full color images.
While Zhang Siyi was studying in England before, due the expense, he was reluctant to buy books. In addition, he thought the text might be too difficult for him to fully comprehend. As a result, not wanting to waste money, he used the books he needed for classes from the library.
Of course, with Gu Yu’s intellect and his wealth, Gu Yu never had those types of concerns to begin with. When Zhang Siyi saw the newly built bookcases being filled with books, Zhang Siyi wanted to kneel down and worship!
Even if it seemed like Gu Yu was spending money without regard, in fact, he didn’t buy them for the sake of pretty pictures. Gu Yu bought them to use as reference and teaching material for Zhang Siyi.
During his undergrad, Zhang Siyi hadn’t developed proper researching techniques. In order to help him, Gu Yu pointed out the important parts of the text and let Zhang Siyi read it to specifically discuss the topic together afterwards. In this way, Zhang Siyi’s attention was focused and his enthusiasm grew. Gradually, with increasing self-confidence, he was able to ascertain the important parts of the books himself.
In the beginning of the school year, the unexpected intensity with which the material was taught during his classes made Zhang Siyi feel out of breath. However, even though he felt there was a huge disparity between his knowledge and what the professors expected, Zhang Siyi had Gu Yu by his side to help. In this way, Zhang Siyi felt like he had his own personal step-by-step guide.
Since Zhang Siyi didn’t excel at studies naturally, he needed to spend more time reading his coursework more thoroughly. He often spent extra time at his desk to read his books and look over paintings and other related architectural images. In contrast, whether Gu Yu was laying on the floor, sitting by a window, or at a desk, it didn’t affect how efficiently Gu Yu could learn the new material. Many times, he even cooked or baked while studying.
Being surrounded by effective methods of learning all the time made Zhang Siyi feel great and his ultimate goal was one step closer. He came to understand that his knowledge wasn’t far behind his other classmates, but rather it was his lack of focus and poor habits from the past that were the culprit. In this focused learning environment and under Gu Yu’s influence, Zhang Siyi was slowly catching up to him.
As an Architectural design major, in addition to having creative design ideas, a graduate was also expected have a certain amount of hands-on practical skills. The field required students to know how to transform their ideas into drawings and 3d models and finally into a building for human use.
Although they were at the same University, since they were in different courses, their schedules didn’t overlap. Gu Yu’s direction was professional development and as such, required more research related tasks with less design and hands-on modeling. In contrast, Zhang Siyi’s coursework for his Master’s was RIBA part 2 and the principle aspect of it was learning how to navigate through the multiple steps required to develop complex large-scale plans. If Zhang Siyi wasn’t home, he was still at school experimenting with materials and building models.
If a job was like a game of chess and you had to play it according to the rules, then being at University was like a game of chess without rules. As long a you can think of it, there wasn’t anything you couldn’t do.
Finally, Zhang Siyi found something he excelled at. His design ideas were extraordinary and different. Unlike Gu Yu’s rigid way of designing, Zhang Siyi’s creations were fanciful, romantic and avant-garde.
Every month, the department of Architecture assembled for a group meeting and critiqued each other’s work in progress. At the meeting, students displayed their projects and both the professors in the department and invited architects in the industry gave feedback about them.
At the first assembly, Gu Yu came to Zhang Siyi’s presentation without telling him. Quietly entering the conference room, Gu Yu stood to the side with his arms crossed, watching attentively.
In their class, there were more than two Chinese students. In the Department of Architecture, there were more than thirty in both undergrad and graduate students combined currently studying at Big A University. One student from Hong Kong, a beautiful girl, showed great interest in Gu Yu on the first day they met at their student orientation. Having noticed her interest, on several occasions, Zhang Siyi deliberately position his left hand in plain sight and flash his ring that matched Gu Yu’s in her direction. Knowing that they often arrived and left together, he thought she was a fool for not knowing they were a couple.
When Zhang Siyi caught site of Gu Yu quietly sneaking into the conference room during his presentation, his eyes widened for a moment in panic. His anxiety increased when he saw the girl from Hong Kong immediately walk over to Gu Yu and talk. Several times, he saw Gu Yu laughing and smiling at her. Watching their interactions caused Zhang Siyi to burn with jealously. Filled with anger, his mind went blank and as a result, he never heard any of the constructive feedback about his project from his peers and professors.
When the critique was finished, he walked over to where Gu Yu was waiting for him. Gu Yu criticized him: “You rehearsed it so well yesterday, but today… What happened with your presentation?”
Zhang Siyi clenched his teeth: “So now you criticize me.”
Gu Yu was confused with his attitude: “What’s the matter?”
Neither did Zhang Siyi want to show nor admit to him that he was jealous. Instead of answering him, he evaded: “Why didn’t you tell me that you were coming to the presentation? You made me so nervous.”
Chuckling, Gu Yu smiled at him: “If I want to see you, do I have to ask? We live together now, so why are you so nervous?”
Zhang Siyi: “…” That isn’t the issue right now. It’s a presentation and he didn’t want to make a fool of himself in front of his lover!
As the next person was presenting their project, Zhang Siyi and Gu Yu kept their whispers to a minimum. Soon, the girl from Hong Kong stood up and got her materials for her presentation. When Gu Yu stopped chatting with him all together and focused his attention at her, he got even angrier. Grabbing his arm and pulling him away, Zhang Siyi inwardly thought: God Damn. Did you come to see me or see someone else?
It was only when Zhang Siyi pulled Gu Yu away into a corner and hugged him that Gu Yu realized what was wrong. Happy to coax him, Gu Yu smiled and said: “Fool. Why are you so jealous? You know I can’t be with women.”
Burying his head into Gu Yu, Zhang Siyi kept his mouth shut. He knew Gu Yu wouldn’t do anything to that girl, but even so, he wasn’t happy about his lover being coveted by others. Even though Gu Yu was wearing his ring, that Hong Kong Girl kept persisting and continued to talk to Gu Yu at every chance.
Gu Yu teased him for a while before telling him the truth: “Actually, she likes you.”
Zhang Siyi: “… What!? “
Gu Yu smirked and looked at Zhang Siyi: “Every time she approached me to talk, she wanted to tell me her thoughts about you. Since she liked how well you speak, she comes to your presentations to listen. She also has mentioned you in private.”
Zhang Siyi’s face suddenly burned up: “She, what did she tell you!?!?”
Squeezing Zhang Siyi’s left hand, Gu Yu laughed: “Even though she never asked, she knew that we were together. Don’t you always show her your ring? She said you are childish and cute.”
Zhang Siyi: “…”
This news was completely embarrassing for Zhang Siyi. He wanted to dig a hole and bury himself in it. He acted like that in front of her because he thought she didn’t know. He was so angry with himself that he shouted at Gu Yu: “If you knew all along, why didn’t you say something? Was it fun to watch me embarrass myself?”
Gu Yu pinched his nose and grinned: “Yes. I’ve already told that. Heh”
Zhang Siyi was so angry that he vomited three liters of blood!
More than that, in private, their classmates already knew they were a couple. However, they were afraid of embarrassing them so they never spoke up.