By Cathy Zhang Ruihan
A year ago, when I finished my last class at the University of Hong Kong as an exchange student, I was not as sad as I thought I would be. Instead, it was the sense of ease and comfort that I carried with me all the way to the airport. I knew, somehow, it was not the end of my story with Hong Kong. I was just waiting for the turn of the chapter.
And now, I am sitting by the fountain in the Main Building of HKU, wrapped in the same kind of ease and comfort that I had always felt about the place. My story with the university and the city continues here, as if I had never left before.
Memories flash back every time I walk across the hustle and bustle of the Sun Yat-sen Square, where I used to catch up with other exchange students after class. And I found that I remember so well the benches beside the lily pond, the stairs I climbed everyday, the smell of books in the library, and the mixture of languages and laughter outside the classroom windows. These are things that I thought might disappear when the people attached to them are gone, but it turned out that they never really left my mind. Old friends are now dispersed in different places around the world, but new friends are coming into my life. Returning to HKU as a postgraduate student, I know I will have more to expect from this university and from my new life in Hong Kong.
I sometimes would imagine what my life would be like, had I not come to Hong Kong to study as an exchange student a year ago, but I am simply glad that I had. And coming back to HKU, for me, is just like one of those serendipities in life, those unexpected but happy discoveries. I have been asked the same question by many people: why are you coming back for further study? Why Hong Kong? Well, I could give a whole list of explanations, but they perhaps all end up in one simple reason: why should one leave the place where they might find the answer to their “self”? For me, I came back for that answer.
In fact, it’s not just me who felt that they left for a come-back. I have heard from old friends, who used to be exchange students of HKU, and who are planning to return to Hong Kong. Blaine, from the United States, is coming back for work; Tyson, who is also from the US, wants to come back for further study in computer science, and also Ben from Australia, who told me he still reads the Alumni Newsletters of HKU, is also planning to come back and read a PhD degree.
I believe they all have their reasons for returning to Hong Kong or to the university, but in the end, do reasons themselves really matter? Reasons are to convince those whose mind has not been made up, but when we know where our heart belongs, all we need to do is just to follow it.