The food has been served, the lights are dim, and I’m here in my seat typing this article on my flight back to Britain.
Much like the soggy sausages and half-baked potatoes served to me on a plastic tray, life in London has left much to be desired.
Everything, from public safety, to transport, to food, is of a standard below that of Hong Kong. Given that we were still taking orders from Britain a little more than 20 years ago, that’s surprising. A month or two living in London is definitely going to change the mind of even the strongest of Hong Kong independence supporters who want a return to rule under the British (talk about cognitive dissonance!).
It’s not all been bad, though. University life, for example, hasn’t been nearly as terrible as the half-broken motorised trolleys that Londoners affectionately call “the Tube”. Think of it as the MTR, but a really poor version that suffers delays – and is overcrowded – all the time.
University College London (UCL) has been an extremely welcoming place for international students such as myself, who have yet to adjust to London life. Having a campus with a large overseas student population helps when you are looking for people that you identify with. I have found comfort in the university’s debating society and my friends in the law faculty (nerdy, I know), which has allowed me to feel more at home in a city that’s not my home.
I began my studies at UCL as the issue of Brexit (Britain’s decision to leave the European Union) began and I have, as a result, had the chance to study it as part of my public law course. As bad as Brexit may be for Britain, it’s certainly a whole lot of fun to study. The changes that Brexit will bring about for Britain offers important lessons for the future of Hong Kong.
I know – examining what lies ahead for the 852 is a topic I’m pretty keen on, as anyone who has read my Op-Eds knows.
My course at UCL has offered me the chance to teach underprivileged children about human rights, and the protections that the law offers to them. This, to me, will really help bring the content of law to life. I will be giving practical advice to those who most need it, and helping them realise the importance of law in their lives. This programme is something that I am looking forward to as a break from the hard work that is to come in my second term.
While London may not be the best city in the world, I am still enjoying my time as a student there. The moment this plane lands, I will have to get on with my mock-exam revision, which is a small price to pay to get a degree in a subject you love. Getting the chance to study law in Britain – and back in Hong Kong during the second half of my degree – does help in terms of getting a better understanding of common law principles and its use at home. The city ain’t great, but the experience sure is.