Guanlin Lu, China, University of New Mexico

Do It Yourself in the U.S.

Guanlin Lu from China studying at the University of New Mexico shares the biggest lesson he learned while studying in the United States–if you want something done you have to do it yourself!

We featured Guanlin Lu in the fall 2015 issue of International Student Voice Magazine. Your story could be in our next issue! Submit your story today by visiting

When I came to the U.S. two months ago, I didn’t know that most of Americans like to complete some work by themselves. I like to do some small work by myself, but I hadn’t filled up the tank or repaired my cars before I came to the U.S. To my surprise, I have to do such work in the U.S.

I remember the scene when I just bought a used car and was driving home. I was excited but I found the tank was going empty, so I drove to a gas station. Then a big challenge came to me because when I arrived at the gas station I found no staff outside the office. I thought there should have had some staff to help me to fill up the tank because in China they all give that service but I was disappointed. Since I could not find any staff, I drove out of the gas station and called my friend to come to help me. He drove his car from home and taught me how to fill up the tank and how to use my credit card to pay the fee in the machine.

Several days later, I found one of the lamps of the rear lights was out and I ought to change to a new one, or I would be fined by the police. When I asked one of my friends where I could get a service to change the lamp, he looked at me with a strange smile and told me that I had better do it by myself because in the U.S. almost all drivers know how to change a car’s lamp. So I searched on the internet to study how to change the lamp and bought a new lamp to replace the old one. It was not difficult to open the trunk and find the old lamp and replace the new one, but it was interesting for me because that was the first time to do it by myself. I was glad when I finished it successfully. In China, it is very easy to ask for a worker of the repair shop to buy and replace a component part without paying any extra labor fee. But in the U.S., the labor fee is so expensive that drivers would rather do it by themselves.

Nowadays I am driving my car every day and have learned many skills to check and repair the car. I like to study and do it by myself because this is an important part of the culture of the U.S. I have learned that everyone should learn how to ‘Do it yourself’ in the U.S.

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