Junior secondary students were given a taste of university life at the HKU Taster programme. On December 28 and 29, they had the opportunity to attend lectures at the University of Hong Kong. They visited four faculties - business, medicine, architecture, and engineering, to explore their strengths and potential career paths.
After playing some ice-breaking games and a campus tour, Dr Olivia Leung introduced us to the business world. The professor in accounting gave us an overview of corporations in the public and private sectors, including personnel distribution and strategies to increase competitiveness.
Dr. Leung's two-hour lecture was appealing for participants who weren't interested in the business sector. She spent the second half talking about leadership and self-improvement.
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“The problem I see in most Hong Kong students is that they simply follow the majority. You must have the drive to self-learn in order to be successful,” said Leung.
While I may not be a future businessperson, this lecture helped me reassure my future path and start setting goals. I found it particularly useful to learn about the Swot (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analytical model, which helped me to formulate plans to turn my weaknesses into strengths and threats into opportunities.
In the afternoon, we hopped on a bus from the main campus to the faculty of medicine, where we got to experience a range of majors. In the nursing department, we learned how to clean wounds and measure blood pressure. We explored medicinal herbs in the Chinese medicine department, and I even got to receive an acupuncture treatment! It was definitely refreshing to experience an alternative to western pills and cough syrups.
The pharmacy department gave us an eye-opening lecture on common household drugs such as Panadol. Taking too many of these seemingly harmless drugs at one time can lead to very painful deaths due to organ failure. We learned that a pharmacist’s job is more than picking medicine off a shelf; they need to be able to recognise symptoms and side effetcs of what they prescribe.
The most memorable part of the day had to be our visit to the dissection lab, where we got to see some cadavers - the dead bodies given to hospitals for research and teaching. Under normal circumstances, only medical students are allowed inside the lab, as utmost respect was paid to the donors’ bodies. The professor educated us on functions of the heart and blood vessels, while also giving us the opportunity to touch the lifeless bodies.
Interacting with the cadavers first-hand was more profound than looking at an anatomy diagram. I was unnerved by the prospect at first, but I grew to appreciate the intricate design of the human body. Being a doctor sure isn’t an easy job!
Travelling through the grounds of the HKU campus once more, I couldn’t help wondering what oddities were waiting for us. Our group leaders had promised a day of excitement, but I couldn’t think of an activity that could trump the ones we’d experienced the day before. After all, what could beat seeing cadavers?
Nonetheless, more thrills came in the afternoon at the HKU Computer Science Labs. Already tired after a morning with the Faculty of Architecture, I struggled to pay attention to the instructions of our lecturer, Dr. Y. K. Choi. That is, until I noticed the HTC Vive, a virtual reality headset being set up in the corner.
The Vive, I learned later, would be used to play games of our own creation. Using the Unity software, we were guided through the game design process, each of us producing a zombie-themed first-person shooter game.
Along the way, I was surprised by how intricate the process was, with each step requiring careful adherence to the instructions. In addition, I was shocked by how different the games each of us created were, especially since they were all created with the same resources.
Many were able to produce simple, though engaging, games. Those who had the chance to play their games in VR enjoyed blasting zombies and exploring their self-created worlds. Many of us even created backstories for our characters, making the experience a truly immersive one.
Though the HKU Taster was certainly not without faults, it was an educational experience that introduced me to fields I had never considered pursuing. With the support of our eager (and extremely likeable) group leaders, we ventured through medical centres, computer labs, and lecture halls, learning a bit about HKU along the way.