Many freshmen enter university with a “to-do list”, which can include joining societies, living in halls or finding romance.
Indeed, going to university involves much more than a degree. I believe we are all born with room inside us to learn, have adventures and widen our horizons.
Before entering the real world after graduation, it’s a great idea to get a bit more life experience. That is what I did last summer when I volunteered for a house-building project in Sri Lanka sponsored by City University of Hong Kong and my department.
When I arrived in Colombo, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to last a month. My first impression of Sri Lanka was a South Asian country with poor living conditions and a complicated language.
However, thanks to my schoolmates, I overcame lots of obstacles and gained many precious memories; for example, working in a team to lay the foundations for some walls, trying local cuisine and playing games with orphaned children.
These kids’ smiles reminded me that we have two hands: one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.
After Sri Lanka I started an internship as a marketing assistant at the Financial Times newspaper. I was put in charge of the 2015 FT desktop calendar project, and I gained a valuable insight into online marketing.
If I had to give a little tip for freshmen, it would be this: your attitude determines your success. Your department may have lots of resources, but your success depends on your willingness to seize opportunities.
During the spring of 2015, I was an exchange student at the University of Copenhagen, in Denmark. There, I learned the golden principle of “learning by exploring”.
In the first lecture, I was surprised to find we were asked questions, rather than being given answers. Our professor explained: “If I give you the answers, then you will never learn.” After encountering this European way of teaching, I felt like the room within me grew. I think Hong Kong universities would benefit from the same teaching style.
Without the support of my department and university, I wouldn’t have had the chance to make the most of these experiences. They have been the greatest room expanders.