To reminisce about my days at HKU is like listening to Bach’s “Air on the G String”. It makes you feel both old and young. Then, as you finish, you get a sense of homecoming, just like when a first-year student crosses the threshold of the Main Building during their time there.
My HKU Experience
As I look back on those days, I know that none like them shall occur again. I can think of the friends with whom I shared communion, of learning in the classroom, where seriousness and cheekiness were so delightfully blended together. I can think upon a time when knowledge promised eternity. The overall experience inspired my confidence and led me to re-examine the world, as well as my approach to it.
The Main Building and the Hung Hing Ying Building
My most valued and perhaps most dreaded memories revolve around two historical monuments. They include the excruciating challenge of the Music in Western Culture course; the University Choir and the many rehearsals imposed by Mr. Samuel Wong, il conduttore perfetto, for our HK Cultural Centre performance; and my time spent at Loke Yew Hall, from the Dean’s List Award Ceremony and carol singing, to those free evening concerts (a benefit that I continue to enjoy after graduation) to name just a few. And finally, those jubilant moments that saw us proudly donning our graduation gowns with a light sky-blue stripe between the shoulders, shouting and throwing hats in the air.
The Main Library
There is no place like the Main Library. If I have a term for that part of my HKU experience, it would be my “second-home”. Not least because of its staff whose relaxed, patient manner and smiling demeanor calmed my nerves whenever I got freaked out. There was a case once when I was under a time crunch to print out my paper and the printer stopped working! These good people, like family who put you at ease during a crisis, came to my rescue at once. They
removed the document stuck in the print queue and got the print job done. Amazing!
The Main Library plays shelter to many, the seeker and the unsought, the loner and the lonely alike. Spacious and brightly lit, the ground floor computer desk section had become my “turf”, and it would give me much annoyance if my “ED13” was taken. Working on this floor, one could enjoy the convenience of the Xerox facility, the front desk services and the borrowing counter. To maintain ourselves as equal contenders in a competitive environment like HKU, many of us would start scrambling for the best resources available in the library from Day 1. Books for that reason were swiped within seconds. Here in a corner on the second floor, where the largest collection of English literature sat, you could find me mired in a forest of “unread” books, smug and content. Though more often than not, such was not the case. Many titles went missing despite their “available” status and were still unaccounted for toward the deadline. And yet, sometimes, like a miracle, the phantom book showed up on the shelf.
Chong Yuet Ming—the HKU Canteen
When you badly needed to grab a bite, having Oliver’s next door was definitely a plus! That said, the greatest of all time must be “Chong Yuet Ming” (the canteen at Chong Yuet Ming Amenities Centre). Good value for money. Imagine, ten dollars for a roast goose lai fun! The canteen was made up of two parts and it was the open area that I most frequented. Whether it was to fill your stomach, to discuss group projects, to re-group your thoughts, or to enjoy a quiet moment or “Hea” (lounge around), CYM was the perfect place to go and it wouldn’t keep you unsatisfied.
Professor KK Cheung
Last but not least, my fondest of fond memories involved learning (almost as much out of the classroom as in it) from Professor Cheung King Kok, a visiting Fulbright scholar. To many of us who were lucky enough to have enjoyed her presence, KK was a rare gem. What set her apart from the rest was her approachable and unassuming way of being. In her we saw a true role model; a life-long mentor that was to be cherished. KK, and her “Never regret what you learn, only regret what you don’t learn”, will always be a central part of my HKU experience.
Being an English major meant that you would need a certain degree of physical toughness to finish the “biathlon”—going up the winding slope to the Main Building and from there, all the way to the second floor lecture rooms, where most of the English courses were being conducted. And mental toughness as well if you were doing a part-time MA degree programme, made worse on the day when you were running late in high heels and with an empty stomach!
Contrary to the walk up hill, I enjoyed the small walk down the staircase to the Main Building, a path I had followed countless times as a student because of the need to exchange books in my locker, no. A8 (lucky number, eh?). A voluptuous experience it was, as I paused to adore the pine trees in the courtyard, the glittering stars up in the night sky, and sometimes, the high-pitched hissing sounds of the cicada. A slight breeze would rise, wafting the heavy scent of flowers into my nostrils…
My journey started at HKU and still continues today. And as a Liverpool fan, let me plagiarise this favourite quote from my beloved football club:
Once a Member of the HKU Family (Red), always a Member (Red).
Me and HKU are a love affair that will never, ever end.