Don’t Stick to the Five Must-dos.

If you ask any student on campus about must-dos in university, I bet most of them will list out five points (大學五件事) – studying, living in a student hostel, dating, getting involved in a student body as a committee member and working part-time. I’m not saying these goals are wrong or too generic, but the list is definitely not exhaustive. Embarking on an exchange, joining a sports team, volunteering, travelling with your college friends… There are always different possibilities for you to explore. 

Self identity and individuality matters in college life. This is the time to explore and attempt trials. If you are constrained by this list, you may end up as a ‘typical’ university student, instead of the version you fantasise of becoming. I promise, no one will laugh at you if you confess you haven’t tried everything on that list. No one other than yourself can judge your actions and decisions. Opportunities are rare, so if a spark inspires you to try something, go without hesitation. This is better than regretting missed chances someday in the future.

Meeting New People is a Must, but Befriending Everyone is Not.

One of the perks in CUHK is, we have a Harry Potter-like college system along with various activities and programmes. This includes General Education courses, assemblies, hostel gatherings, college celebrations and much more fun. In the beginning of the semester, you push open the door of a society room and enter a ‘King Jong’ event. Seniors approach and greet you, then assign you in different groups. You repeat your name, college, major, and year endlessly. Then you chat like you have befriended the group for 10 years. People share their love stories, gossip, anything you can think of. This goes on repeat, sometimes with drinks, sometimes with games, until the sun rises and people start going to bed.

Indeed, some people love being part of the hype – meeting new people and partying like there’s no tomorrow. They can bump into and chat with a handful of friends during a 5-minute walk from their hostel to the nearest canteen. On the other hand, some others enjoy a quiet moment of solitude, or only with the companionship of a few friends. If this feeling ever pops up in your mind, don’t be ashamed. Don’t feel pressured to fit in. There are countless opportunities to meet people, but remember, you aren’t forced to befriend everyone. We all have different methods of handling friendships, so as long as you treat others nicely and feel comfortable with it, there is no right or wrong.

Never Forget Your Roots

From COVID-19 to public exams to endless rescheduling, you have walked such a long way to earn your entrance ticket to CUHK. Congrats! University life is like a kaleidoscope. It’s vibrant, experimental, and full of endless surprises. Try new activities. Meet different people. Burn the midnight oil before an exam. Although people always say don’t look back in the past, never forget the people who supported you to this achievement. This includes your family, friends, teachers, companions… anyone you can think of. Everyone whom you have shared your happiness and pain with.

Of course, mutual effort is required to maintain any relationship. As much as you work hard to meet new people in college, don’t forget the people who have been standing by you all the way. Be committed to acknowledge your peers. Although people come and go, be thankful for every encounter. In the midst of difficult times, you will eventually know who are the ones to back you up.

Be Critical

Here you are, evolving from carefree juniors to independent individuals. You hear new opinions, and you try out new stuff. As much as peer recognition matters to build your ego, always be critical of the surrounding. Don’t succumb to the traditions, simply because they are longstanding practices passed on for decades. This applies to personal choices, university norms, and even social affairs. Keep a clear mind. Before you follow the steps of others, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath, and think of it again. Is it rational? Are you okay with it?

University is a magical place. Hundreds, if not thousands of freshmen gather together to chant slogans under the scorching sun. There is some kind of power which builds an unbreakable cohesion among people from different backgrounds. Before you follow the lead and chant from the top of your lungs, or before you sign your name on a petition, be critical. Make sure you are responsible for your own choices. Then you won’t be drenched in a swirling whirlpool of ignorance. 


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