Before I embarked on the exchange journey, I had set goals including rising up to challenges, meeting friends from diversified cultures and enjoying the new learning environment. Surprisingly, apart from the goals that I set out, there were two extra gains that I didn’t expect, but have proved to be vital in shaping my living style and pursuing my genuine dream.
Reconnecting with the Nature
First of all, through the exchange program, I had the opportunity to see the beauty of nature, and once again reconnected myself to the Mother Earth. During my stay at the University of Exeter, I encountered the book ‘The Nature Principle.’ In the book, the author coined the term ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ in describing how the new generation is impoverished in exploring and interacting with nature. The ‘deficiency’ is considered to be the culprit of people losing interest in protecting nature and failing to notice how closely we are connected to our Mother Earth.
I noticed that such ‘deficiency’ seemed to be more fatal in Hong Kong than in the United Kingdom or Europe. Hong Kong citizens are all working around the clock, and are trapped in the concrete forest. Even during weekends, they usually stay indoors and enjoy spending time in the shopping paradise. On the contrary, cities in UK and Europe integrate green areas as part of the town amenities. It is common to see a large area of grassland at the center of a university or a shopping mall.
I was fortunate enough to visit Santorini after the examination period. This trip had fostered my dedication in preserving the nature that we are blessed with. The crystal-clear water in the Aegean Sea reflects the massive efforts of the marine conservation organizations in Greece. However, it was also worth noting that the elevating tourists rate in Santorini is a double-edged sword – the stunning destination has aroused tourists interest in contributing to environmental conservation and sustainable tourism, while the expanding tourism pushes the construction of tourism infrastructure like resorts, hotels, restaurants and shops, and in return, deteriorated the natural beauty of the island.
After all the travelling during my exchange, I felt refreshed, revitalized, recharged, and ready to go on a new journey as a final year student. What is more, I felt reconnected with nature, and with every step I take as my feet connect with the Earth, I keep our Mother Earth in mind.
Taking the Road Less Travelled
My ambition to pursue a career related to environmental law, regulations and compliance stemmed from my encounter in the Environmental Law and Regulations course, even though this might be regarded as a new and less typical career path. The flexibility in choosing what module to take in the exchange program has enabled me to learn more about the legal fundamentals. The course Business Law for Accountants had not only consolidated my knowledge in the business legal world, but also allowed me to get acquainted with like-minded students who have the passion in understanding the power of law in a society, as well as the wide range of legal principles in resolving real world legal complications.
After acknowledging my interest in environmental law, my peers were very willing to share their opinions in environment legislations, such as the need and merits of criminalizing environmental offences, or how environmental law communicates the message that green practices ought to be basic routine, that failing to comply with regulations deserve punishment instead of the other way round – such practices are add-ons and should be applauded for the attempt in doing good to the environment. They were very supportive in my thought of ‘taking the road less travelled,’ and this strengthened my confidence in doing so.
In a nutshell, my exchange experience has built up my habit of spending quality time outdoors under the sun in the grassland, and has consolidated my perseverance in taking the road less travelled.
University of Exeter
Trinity College, Dublin
Nottingham Public Affairs and Social Services Society Debating Workshop