8 lessons about myself as an HKU student
Sadly enough, today I had my last class in HKU, which means that my exchange semester has officially ended. And I must admit that when the professor ended his class today my eyes started getting watery and I really had to hold back from letting tears roll down on my cheeks. Don’t get me wrong – I am actually starting to miss home and friends back home and I am really conflicted right now. I kinda miss Europe, but if I had the chance, after the winter break, I’d rather come back to Hong Kong than to go back to Rotterdam. I am only now feeling settled in here and it’s such a pity that I have to leave soon. But I also think that I am scared of finally facing the reality – as these past months have seemed like a fantasy. I have learnt so much here from my peers, my professors and also from myself – as I was in a continuous struggle of self-discovery and finding my path…but anyway, here is what I’ve learnt about myself as an HKU student.
1. I can be a conscious student and attend all my classes.
Actually, I had to miss one full day of classes due to being sick – and I felt so guilty that I even e-mailed my professors for excusing myself. I really loved the classes here – the setting is way more informal and interactive than in Rotterdam. You feel more connected to the class and to the teacher and it is a better way of learning. Normally, I would just read the slides by myself, but here it was a pleasure to go and listen to the professor talking. Moreover, whenever you needed help or assistance you could just drop them an e-mail and they will reply right away.
2. I can do things last minute.
I am a control freak – that’s well-known by now and most importantly, I cannot handle uncertainty. Stress gives me the creeps and makes me cranky and unbearable. But oh well, people here like to do things last minute. So, last Friday we worked from 5.30pm to 3am. Slept for three hour and a half and at 8am we were back working at Starbucks as the presentation was taking place in 2 hours. This was once in a lifetime experience – which to be honest I do not want to go through again. Too much stress and tiredness that I can’t handle. 🙂 But at least, I got to get to know my team-mates better which was really nice and fun after all.
3. I can be unconventional sometimes.
When my team-mates informed me that they have a very crazy approach to our presentation, I became a bit skeptical. Me going crazy – not wearing nice clothes, not being formal, not doing the presentation in the traditional way? That was a no-go a few months ago. But there I was: in front of the class with a box on my head playing a robot. I did it – and felt so good about it afterwards.
4. Taking things one at a time is working better for me – or it did now.
Normally, when I work I put lots of pressure on myself. But as I was really busy with my trips around Asia, everything had to be done quickly in order to not have to deal with deadlines when I was away. And I must say, taking it easier and worrying less about the outcome or the grade, worked like magic. I finally realised that giving myself the opportunity to break my old routines was a breath of fresh air. Back in my mind, I still have that self-consciousness that I should have put a lot more effort, but who cares anymore? My new approach is definitely better than my old one.
5. I am even more clue-less now about my future now.
One of my biggest goals when I went on exchange was to find my way – that path that I need to follow once I graduate. But guess what? I am even more clue-less now. I have no idea where I am heading, where I will end up and yes, it’s a bit scary. I am not disappointed that I couldn’t figure it out, but maybe I missed something along the way.
6. I have to follow my heart more.
Sometimes, I am just too rational and too stuck into the box. I am too scared to express myself. But one of the key takeaways is that I shouldn’t care that much of others might think of me if I say something wrong. I should be more honest with me and the people around me and tell them what I feel until it’s too late. Because sometimes, time is running out and it might be too late…
7. I finally took a Journalism course – and I realised it wasn’t the thing for me.
I always loved writing, and at some point I was even fancying studying Journalism. Here, I finally had the chance to take a Journalism course – which I totally loved. My professor was such an inspiring person, especially due to her personal experience as a reporter. Also, the recent events in Hong Kong made the whole course even more interesting. I got more aware of the world I live in and I will never be able to look at news the same way I used to. However, I realised that I had a completely wrong view on what Journalism means and the image in my mind didn’t fit in with reality. If I had the chance, I would take another Journalism course just because it’s so interesting and you learn so much from it, but at least now I can rest in peace that I did the right thing not choosing to study full-time Journalism.
8. I can survive 4 months without my own food.
One of the only things I really hate about Hong Kong, is that here you don’t really have the time, nor the proper conditions to cook. My friends know how health-conscious I am when it comes to food and how working out is part of my daily routine. But here, I survived without my own food – sometimes I was making avocado wraps just because I missed it so much, but that’s it mainly. I guess I’ll be really happy to go back to a normal kitchen and cook again – if I am still good at it….
So these are my key takeaways from being an HKU student for one semester. I still have one report, one take-home exams and two exams due, but tomorrow I am heading to Boracay, which is my last trip in Asia – another reason to feel sad. But at least I can brag about my tan when I go back home.