I think of all people, Adele has got it right
Hello, it’s me
I’ve been wondering if after all
these months you’d like to meet,
to go over everything
those are the lyrics that I dedicate to my self-esteem. Over the past couple of months I have had so many academically and personally challenging moments, that I forgot to slow down and realise what was actually going on. What I am about to tell you, I wish someone had told me before I went on my exchange year! And I am dedicating this blog-post to all of you who are going abroad in 2016 🙂 And please bear with my oh-so-funny photos 😉
The University of Hong Kong is one of the most prestigious institutions in Asia. While it sounds wonderful on your CV (and feels like the biggest ego boost once you’re through) being a successful students comes with sweat, some tears and weekends in the library. HKU is not any different from other exchange partners – intense studying while you are abroad is sort of a given thing. But since you are jumping into your 3rd year, most of the local students have already gotten their things figured out e.g. which professors assess the lecture handouts, and which ones assess the books, which tutors are going to pick your APA references into pieces, and which will not care. You are coming here clueless and ready to get your As! GET READY.
You need to be ready to ask for advice and help from previous exchange students. Guess what? That is what I am here for! You can also contact other students who are currently on exchange and ask them about the courses you are planning to take and see if they have any recommendations. I wish I had done that. Instead, being scared to bother, I did not ask for advice, and that is something I came to regret later on when I heard “oh you are taking a course with that professor…good luck” or “that tutor is very strict…”. Every university has tough professors and being on exchange and having the pressure to adapt to new courses is already stressful enough – you do not need more of that. My first semester (and my GPA) would have been much better if I had known about those professors in advance. So make sure to ask if there are any do’s and dont’s at your university. Future HKUers – I’ll be expecting you to write me!
It is so so so easy to loose yourself if you have not set any direct goals. Before starting your semester, note down why you are on exchange. Are you here to grow as a person? To get to know more likeminded people? I thought so! That is why you should not compare yourself to others. HKU is a very competitive environment, and if you are like me, who gets very influenced by the competitiveness, then you need to give yourself extra time to get used to the new environment and realise that you do not always have to be the best – you are talented as you are, do not let anyone steal that feeling from you. Everyone has their special side and while your talent might not be memorising the book content, you are a critical thinker who will do just fine in life!
So finally, I would like to apologise to my self-esteem, for putting myself down because I did not get great scores on the quizzes, for not doing what makes me happy, what makes me feel special and confident. I have realised that without a confidence boost now and then and a rain-check of what you are good at, you will just end up comparing yourself to the rest. The fact it: you should never compare yourself to others. Concentrate on what you want to get out of your year abroad. I know the idea of getting a first degree sounds amazing, but if the choice is between driving yourself crazy trying to memorise all the possible Social Psychology terms and going for a nice hike with your friends – you’ll be better off hiking, trust me. Once you destress, your mind will react differently and you might even memorise more terms when you return from that hike than if you stayed home!
P.S. My dear self-esteem, I must have called a thousand times, to tell you, I am sorry