By Rishika

The moment I got my letter of acceptance into the undergraduate Engineering programme of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, I was elated. I knew that the journey from then would not be an ordinary one. Being a girl with a head of big dreams, I knew that my exposure to the academic and co-curricular activities at CUHK would help me realize the same.

As soon as I joined campus, I was taken aback by the vastness of beauty the landscape captured. Truly, it was a feast for my eyes and for my parents too. There was something promising in the aura of the campus, something that made me prepare to face my challenges from here onwards and face the big world out there. The professors and college students from different parts of the world that I started meeting subsequently kept making me realize of my potential to keep growing and delivering quality work to the best of my abilities. I-lounge and a couple of different places on campus became my hideouts to meet new people and make a circle of friends from different walks of life. Classes began after the orientation camp, and though they seemed to be pretty fast initially, I learnt the Hong Kong culture of being in top of your toes since then.

I had somehow learnt how to go with the flow and live by myself when political conditions in Hong Kong turned out to be violent and we had to evacuate with our most important belongings as campus was not safe anymore. It was overwhelming for many of us as we had to leave immediately and were uncertain how things would be the coming semester. However, time acted as a balm and we were informed that the University would resume as per normalcy with stricter arrangements for campus access. This boosted me up and I was looking forward to joining University again.

When I was travelling back to Hong Kong, news of undiscovered virus spread like wild-fire. I never thought it would take the face of a global pandemic as it is today, but it was still a matter of importance in the month of January. Weeks passed in the second semester as we entered the Chinese New Year holidays with many plans to explore the city, as we had not been able to do so earlier. However, the virus grew exponentially by then and I came back home once again. It felt heart wrecking when I was sent home, again and could not join and enjoy University life properly. However, there was an underlying hope of things returning to normalcy when online classes became the new norm and fighting the differences between timezones a cup of tea.

Both the situations imposed upon us unexpectedly was overbearing. However, the University and my college — United College took care that there were no problems being faced by the international students. Classes were held online and professors were helpful throughout the period of time. From one-on-one meetings to addressing the classes collectively, we were able to bond easily and understand our concepts too. My college made sure that our belongings were taken care of despite leaving our rooms in a mess and took care of my mental and emotional well-being too. Both the circumstances faced by me made me closer to the CUHK family. It certainly is home away from home. I fall short of words when I have to express gratitude to the entire management and administration team, who made our learning possible despite the uncertainties and did not let the learning spirit die. This was the most extraordinary and eventful year of my life and though I am still uncertain when would I be going to Hong Kong next, because of the pandemic, I would be willing to give my 100% in everything I do. The colleges and University is still taking measures to help us come back because of the strict laws in both the countries. However, hope is that flame that keeps everything ignited in the darkness of uncertainties. Hoping to come back to ‘Zhong Wen Da Xue’ soon.