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Internet Addict Gets Third Chance to Study
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Zhang Fei is perhaps the best known of the 3,000 freshmen at Tsinghua University, but he has no desire to be famous.

This year, the 24-year-old is beginning his third "first semester" in higher education, after previously being enrolled and later expelled from Tsinghua in 2005 and Peking University in 2003.

Despite being one of the top performers in the college entrance examinations, the Sichuan native has yet to realize his potential due to his addiction to the Internet.

The issue of how Zhang will perform this time around has captured the attention of the nation.

In a bid to distance himself from his previous identity, the student has changed his name to Zhang Konggu. His parents have accompanied him to Beijing for the enrollment.

Zhang will major in environmental science and engineering.

"I don't want to be disturbed any more," he said, clearly uncomfortable at being in the spotlight.

He declined to reveal his long-term goals, saying he wanted only to focus on the present.

"I just want to get settled in to university life as soon as possible, and complete my courses successfully," he was quoted by the Beijing Youth Daily as saying.

In July, 60-year-old Tao Hongkai, a sociologist and guest professor at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, flew from Hubei to Sichuan to provide emotional support for Zhang.

The two met up again on Friday.

"He is glowing with health, and looks more confident than ever," Tao said.

Zhang, who has not been online since July, said he would never again play computer games because he wanted to completely kick the habit and save money to help his parents in the countryside.

"The biggest change in Zhang over the past few months is that he has started interacting with his parents again, and even did some housework. That would have never happened before," Tao said.

Tao said it usually takes between three and six months to determine if an Internet junkie has overcome their addiction.

However, he said he was more concerned about Zhang's emotional development.

"Zhang is spoiled, he almost always got what he wanted when he was growing up."

The youngster even ran away when his family arranged a big dinner in the village to celebrate his success in the entrance exams, Tao said.

"He is talented, but he has trouble getting along with others. He is lonely and eager for friends. In his case, the key point is how he can step out from his own world and make friends with others," Tao said.

(China Daily August 25, 2007)

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