Letter from the dorm: Surviving Storm Desmond, a fever that led to friendships, and being heartbroken in England

Letter from the dorm: Surviving Storm Desmond, a fever that led to friendships, and being heartbroken in England

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Abiel Ma back on his feet after the storm.
Photo: Abiel Ma

Having enjoyed a relaxing Christmas and New Year holiday in Hong Kong, I went back to my university life in Britain. When I arrived at the campus, the staff was working hard to repair the damage caused by Storm Desmond in December.

The sudden storm forced the university to close early for Christmas, so we only completed the first term exam recently. I managed to write this “piece” because I have just completed my “second” exam this term!

I still remember that night of December 5. I was studying hard in the library and it was raining heavily. Suddenly, everything went dark. No one knew what happened; only that
the whole campus had no power and no network.

I was so frightened that I tried to call out repeatedly but in vain. With a very weak wi-fi – backed up by emergency power – I managed to send out a short WhatsApp to my parents in Hong Kong.

I stayed in the library the whole night, and returned to my dorm early the next morning. Most of the campus was flooded up to the knees and the rain was still coming down hard. The dorm had no hot food, water, or heating for the next two days. My schoolmates and I used a weak wi-fi to stay in contact with our friends and family.

The dorms were evacuated and students stayed in the hall. But you can imagine sleeping on the cold floor of a hall in a freezing winter. Low on sleep, I became sick with a fever. My schoolmates looked after me day and night until I started to recover.

This was probably the worst experience of my life. During those “dark days”, I always remembered what my parents taught me: “Pray and we shall overcome”; “There will always be more solutions than there are problems”. When there was no food, I told myself that it was just like being on a diet. Most importantly, I made a lot of friends during the storm.

Recently, I read about so many students committing suicide in Hong Kong. I am truly heartbroken. I was born in Hong Kong and I fully understand how much pressure there is on the students. But I believe that, even though we encounter hardships in our lives, we can actually become mature and stronger after overcoming those challenges.

Life can be frustrating but we should persevere. There are many ways to solve a problem but suicide is not one of them. “When you have lost a life, you have lost everything. And when you think all is lost, when all is dire and bleak, there is always hope,”―wrote Pittacus Lore, author of I Am Number Four.

Go for it, Hong Kong students! May God bless you all!

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