As the end of my university life approaches, I've been reflecting on the many lessons I've learned in Britain. My experience of studying here has far exceeded my expectations. I have learned to look at things from a perspective other than my own.
I chose to go to university in London because it is vibrant and has a wide range of cultures. London's spaces - from Chinatown to Brick Lane, where the South Asian community is - are an example of this. My university friends are from different backgrounds, from English, Spanish, and British-Indian families. I have gained a more global outlook from living here and learning about britain's politics, history, and society.
The UK education culture is not as exam-oriented as Hong Kong's. This more rounded style of learning, with emphasis on trying new things, has helped me find my interests in writing, debate, politics, and most importantly literature. The importance placed on arts, humanities and culture here (and my family's support, of course) is probably why I chose to study literature.
I now know that doctors, lawyers, engineers, and businessmen are not the only professions. In Britain, many different lines of work are viewed as viable, respected career choices. A well-functioning society also needs historians, scientists, and writers.
I also learned to take time off. I used to think that I would miss out on precious study time if I slept or did something leisurely, but now I take a more laid-back approach. It's okay to give myself time to work things out, or take a day off without feeling guilty.
My university shows concern for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression (which are not as rare as I thought), and extensions are granted to people who can't meet deadlines because of such health issues.
I'm fully aware that it is a huge privilege to be able to study in London, and I really hope I can bring all of what I've learned back to Hong Kong. Ironically, delving deeper into other cultures has increased my interest in my own roots. Perhaps exploring my own culture more closely will be my next adventure!