Mid-Winter Reflections

(HSBC Internship, MSE App)

Solitary time for retrospection is essential in a world that evolves constantly, and you set your own pace in planning ahead, prioritizing tasks, and fine-tuning recharging time in between. I’m extremely grateful for having this beautiful winter well spent here in Hong Kong, and now is the time to look back in retrospection of the endeavors, milestones, blunders, and valuable lessons learned.

The major selection results were released yesterday, and I got into GBUS. Relief in the sense of stability and nervous apprehension to the journey that lies ahead have humbled my sense of achievement, and I realized that life itself teaches the best lessons. GBUS has been my aspiration since I entered HKUST, and this past journey has been a bumpy ride- my extracurricular and academic endeavors were hugely aimed at achieving this goal, and precious lessons were learned in time management and personal attitude in pursuits of excellence. I got a taste of failure in the GBUS major selection interviews in spring-yet in retrospection I found that failure and obstacles have always fueled my personal growth in positive ways, as I push myself even further looking for a way out, as I’m not in a comfortable bubble anymore. Actively searching for internships, pursuing excellence in academics, and reaching out to seniors have framed my past semester- there were moments of apprehension, despair, and uncertainty, yet I am grateful for these struggles as they have staged my attitude and personal values. “Rising every time we fall” is a high school essay that I wrote, and despite how cliché it might sound, I believe that a sense of direction and goals executed by passion and perseverance guides you in different stages of life, no matter if you’re struggling at rock bottom or feeling at the top of the world.

I’m truly thankful to the people and environments that have shaped this fruitful journey-family, seniors, peers, and mentors; as well as Hong Kong-this hectic, densely packed, fast paced, competitive, and slightly uncomfortable environment that makes me alert and upbeat at all times. There is immense personal growth in the past 3 semesters, and stepping into the fourth one means that I’ll be inching towards half of my undergraduate years. Change in inevitable, yet growth is optional. Setting goals, time management, aligning your personal values with a simple and harmonious lifestyle is what I aspire for the next semester. Larger emphasis would be placed on academics for the next term, with accounting, macroeconomics, GBUS2010 core courses, I would have to re-prioritize the balance with sports training, creative pursuits, FCA work, solitary retrospections, and quality time spent with family and friends. Actively change and adapt, as it is through uncomfortable changes that we get comfortable.

Going through the 4th week of my internship at HSBC, lessons on attitude and corporate culture, learning about Excel VBA programming, and reflections on work-life balance have hugely occupied my thoughts during the weekdays. Integrating into an all Cantonese- Hong Kong style working environment has its challenges, yet the biggest lessons learned were from people interactions. Absolute precision in data analysis, double checking tasks with multiple validation, perfecting the interface in Excel spreadsheets, proactively asking for tasks were among the soft skills and attitude cultivated inside me-多做多得. Active learning plays another role, as some of the tasks carried consists of hard skills never taught at school, such as macros and Excel VBA, and countless Office features that proved to be extremely powerful in data analysis and consolidation once learned. Getting out of hall at 7:30am and getting back at hall around 7pm daily, time spent on navigating through the densely packed metros have pushed me into thinking what kind of life, environment, and career aspiration I’d like to have-the personal values that I get from work as it sets the next stage for adult life. I like efficient schedules, people interaction, and managing work with technology, yet I value flexibility in work schedules on top of that. I aspire for a simple lifestyle of quality time with family and friends, nature pursuits, sports training, reading and writing, and cooking. In the end, a simple life of discipline, routine, flexibility, and harmony would be what I’d like to achieve, but incorporating these values into the fast-paced lifestyle of Hong Kong would be a challenge. At the moment, active exploration of possibilities and alternatives, and learning from experiences might give you a better sense of what lifestyle you want to lead, and actively adapting to different environments is key.

Lastly, I guess I’d like to dedicate this paragraph to myself. Besides retrospections in academic and career blueprints, what about crafting a lifestyle that you feel like “living” ? Goals of life can be like a moving average, you attain a certain highlight, and then without pausing you move on to the next goal. Do take a step back, realize what you have achieved, and treat yourself in creative pursuits or quiet meditation. Gratefulness is there for you to give-give and share more than you take, family first, realize the beauty in human interaction, and balance moments of solitude with needs of companionship. Be humble, grateful, and compassionate. Live the beautiful life :)

Simple Abundance.