Learning @ PolyU

Sharing by Amy XU

Going to university was much more than just studying. For me, it was about trying new things, about reaching out, about picking up confidence, and about discovering oneself. I’m very grateful for the 4 extraordinary years at PolyU.

A five-minute-walk from Victoria Harbour, PolyU has the perfect location with convenient transportation. Metaphorically, PolyU FH is a harbour to me where I can always return to for advice or for inspirations that, perhaps, come from nostalgia for my youth. After all, graduation is a new departure.

The core setting for my university life is the Department of English situated in the AG building. It is an inclusive community where the professors are approachable and extremely friendly. I loved having small talks with them and mutually sharing life experiences. As a non-local student, I felt fortunate that I have met so many wonderful, warm, and talented Hong Kong friends who inspired me on the possible ways of living one’s own life.

My studies centred around English linguistics and communication. In my year three I went to University of California, Berkeley for academic exchange. I have taken courses in the field of humanities there including cognitive linguistics, film studies, and Spanish. I realised my interests in languages and soon I will continue my academic journey at the University of Oxford pursuing a MPhil degree.

I have actively played in many different roles in student associations in my year one and year two. Instead of burying my nose in books, I tried to expose myself in new experiences through which I made new friends and developed leadership skills. When I served as the secretary in the English Club Committee, I organised three Mandarin workshops for the international students. When I lived in Homantin hall, I co-organised and emceed a couple of hall events including the Joint Hall Talent Show Quest, Yellow Hall Housewarming Dinner and Pajamas Party. In 2014, I was on the Core Management Committee leading the student-initiated UGC-funded project ENLIGHTEN with over 1,500 participants, breaking the Guinness World Record “The Most Electrical Energy Generated By Pedalling On Bicycles In 24 Hours”.

PolyU offers many opportunities for students to reach out, not only geographically, but also socially and culturally. I really appreciate the Work-Integrated-Education (WIE) and Service-Learning (SL) programmes. My WIE was working as a teaching assistant in Tsinghua University, Beijing. I teamed up with other volunteers from the UK and the US, and we were responsible for organising learning activities to improve the oral English of Tsinghua students through an English summer camp. My SL was an agricultural group project aimed to help deal with production waste for local farmers in Sichuan, China. I learnt about growing Jew’s ears, food safety, farmer’s life, and social issues in the villages. These programmes were wonderful platforms for us to apply what we had learnt in the classroom to the real world and to practice teamwork, public speaking and interpersonal skills.

Outreaching experience was about gaining things outside the lecture room. It was also about giving and paying it forward to the society. In year one, I joined the JP Morgan Project Concerning Sham Shui Po volunteering as an English literacy tutor at Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service. In that summer, I applied for the Dr.Y.K.Ching Memorial Scholarship as a source of funds and successfully initiated a service trip to western Hunan, China, the province where I was born. I hoped to bring fresh and fun knowledge to the underprivileged “left-behind” children there to encourage them to pursue their dreams. I have also voluntarily taught in Guilin, China and Pokhara, Nepal. I love to interact with children and youth because I realised that I am able to pass on positive energy or bring positive changes to others’ life.

I do not have the athletic figure or incredible voice. But I joined in the basketball team in my year one and we won the championship. During my academic exchange in the United States, I performed singing several times in the International House. Sometimes it was not the result that matters. It was the process that I conquered my fear and vulnerability that I took the courage to face the crowd, and that I picked up confidence to successfully present what I have prepared.

I included these important experiences in my university life in the hopes that they would inspire you, especially if you are a freshman. I hope you will find your own way at PolyU and make the most of your days here.

Amy XU
BA(Hons) in English Studies for the Professions