Freshman Year Retrospection

Embracing challenges with enthusiasm!

Sitting beside Mom at the Four Seasons Hotel lobby, we both have mixed feelings-we know that this marks the end of their brief trip to Hong Kong to visit me, yet we are both counting down the days of me flying back to Taiwan in one week’s time, right after my summer internship. “你那時候說你來香港讀書很好,好在哪邊呢?”, Mom asked. I found it hard to articulate in clarity, as I certainly won’t say that I’ve achieved milestones or stood out in the crowd, yet perceptible personal growth this past year made me proud of myself, and sure of my decision in studying in Hong Kong. Accepting challenges boldly and rising every time we fail, thriving in independence and formulating my personal values in midst of a diverse peer group, and taking initiative in searching for opportunities would be the three pillars of personal growth that shape me today. This is dedicated to Mom, conveying what I was unable to put into words right then at the lobby of Four Seasons.

Accepting challenges and rising every time we fail

Back in Taiwan most things were under control in my comfort zone, I outperformed in many academic and extracurricular endeavors, all with hard work and discipline-I am no genius and I believe talents are cultivated with passion and perseverance. Yet, adapting to Hong Kong’s academic style and pace, waddling through the unfamiliar sea of competitive peers, transitioning into a culture that was so much alike yet in reality extremely different marked my first year of navigation. I certainly wasn’t star-girl, everything was to be constructed from the start, from participating in a range of formal interviews, formulating my own learning habits, accepting failures and successes with each endeavor-each attempt marked my personal milestone in embracing challenges in exotic new frontiers. The first semester was on of hard adaptation, I certainly didn’t strike a good balance between academics/sports/diets/recreation, trying out a lot of stuff leaving little time for reflection. My grades were unsatisfactory in the first semester, yet I didn’t give up and obtained fruitful results in the second; I tried out a few clubs and activities initially and decided to focus limited time on the activities I most want to spend time on-less activities meant more time and effort spent on each; I transitioned my fast pace (as Heddy identifies “腳步很快,但不知道在忙什麼,也沒什麼成果”) into a moderate one and combatted stress with active exercise-slowing down and cooling off whenever I needed a break. Accepting that rigorous preparation and giving all that we’ve got in preparation can be more meaningful than the outcome itself-this was another significant learning experience. In searching for summer internships and major selection exercises in the second semester, not all outcomes were fruitful. But I realized that in face of uncertainty and letdowns, patience and actively seeking mentorship to redirect your own path is important. I realized that all I have to do is to craft your blueprint in the long term, and focus on what you can do in the short term-you have to work extra hard-you have immense potential to excel, whatever it takes with passion and perseverance. Knowing your goal and being passionate for what you do is all that counts in spite of adversity. I guess this is the heart of perseverance-of rising every time we fail, of slowly adapting to the little failures and being better every time. Back in Taiwan I was once a grateful child with gifted circumstances and tasted the sweetness of success, and right here in Hong Kong I guess creating and defining your own success by bouncing back, redirecting and soaring to even greater heights is essential after trivial falls that fades over time.

Formulating my personal values in midst of a diverse peer group

Meeting peers from all over Taiwan, from Hong Kong, over different parts of Asia and the world broadened my perspective-I learned to observe and accept differences, to not be judgmental and keeping my own values. Recreation choices, spending habits, lifestyle preferences, and cultural differences can be seen from my peers-I learned to keep a distance with some destructive and sedentary lifestyles (in my point of view of course), and identify those that I comprehend with. But most importantly, I learned about thriving in independence-in spending time with myself in solidarity and reflecting on my lifestyle. This is a critical part of transitioning and paving way to how you live in adulthood.

Taking initiative in searching for opportunities, and executing plans with discipline

Hong Kong is a city of opportunities-from extracurricular activities, school sponsored projects, corporate sponsored competitions, to internship posts-the opportunities are out there if you try to reach it. This doesn’t mean that you have “time” or “passion” for all, and navigating and screening through the huge amount of information, prioritizing, and asking myself what I ultimately what I want to achieve and where my passion lies is an essential part of personal growth.

“The opportunities are there if you reach for it”
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