University is tough for everyone. Even if you were a “goody two-shoes” in secondary school and got the grades which society deems as decent, the transition to a new environment with new people and new competition makes it difficult for even the most resilient students.
Now, coming to the end of my second and final year at UCL, I thought I’d share some of my experiences of surviving university.
Luckily (or unluckily) for me, London was a popular destination for my secondary school friends. A lot of us wanted to study law and the city was a good place to do it. But even if you don’t have a group of 10 (or so) friends in this city, there are lots of ways to feel comfortable in your surroundings. The Hong Kong government’s scholarship programme provides plenty of opportunities for you to network with Chinese students and make you feel right at home with Lunar New Year festivities and the like.
It is also a good idea to mix with the wider international community in your university and get to understand their perspective. Having plenty of friends should make you feel content with the new surroundings.
Although I had a tendency in school to make “strategic” decisions as to what I should study, university is the place to finally choose topics in which you have a genuine interest, rather than subjects which just get you high grades. While all my modules are compulsory this year, we had the liberty of choosing options within some of the modules. In Jurisprudence, I will soon be submitting a paper on the Kantian perspective of “One Country, Two Systems”, while in Tort, I will be completing my coursework on solicitor negligence. While neither of these topics are particularly straightforward (nor are they an easy route to a “First”), these are areas which are particularly relevant and interesting to me.
Rather than holing myself in libraries all day, I will also be undertaking volunteer work with the University of Hong Kong’s legal clinic in the next academic year. University is much more fun when you can find meaning and
joy in the work you do.
At the end of the day, the rat race for First Class might not be something you want to be part of; grades do not determine everything. From time to time, it is necessary to put your feet up, watch a bit of K-pop girl group Twice (Blackpink is no match for them, by the way) and just enjoy life as it is. You will be happier if you take things slowly and steadily.