Migratory Bird

Ashima Saxena
MSc Electronics Engineering , 2011

Life is about helping each other

After working for three years in an R&D department, going back to university was an amazing experience. It was also the first time that I had lived alone and away from my home country of India.

On 2 February 2011, I landed in one of the most beautiful places in Asia – Hong Kong.  It was raining and I was amazed by the green mountains and clean, calm atmosphere. I took a taxi to reach Hong Kong Adventist College, my temporary home in Clear Water Bay.   My roommates were from Mainland China. They seemed shy about speaking English, and I wondered how I would manage over the coming year.

Later, I contacted my Indian friend on Facebook. He came over to assist me and my notebook soon began to fill up with bus numbers and other information to help me find my way in this new city of lights. We went together to HKUST and it was like a dream come true. I was amazed by the beautiful buildings and energetic students. As we moved further into the campus, my eyes became wider. It was awesome.

That night, I called my parents in India and told them I was confident that the knowledge and degree I would gain at HKUST would be valuable. However, I thought it might be difficult to make friends.

I soon found out I was wrong about the friendships. Near the start of my stay, I was returning from campus late at night and took the wrong bus to my hostel, ending up in Po Lam rather than Clear Water Bay. I was terrified because I had no mobile phone, no contacts, no map, and it was now 11.20pm. But just as I was about to burst into tears, someone said to me: “Excuse me, I noticed you seemed to have caught the wrong bus. I wasn’t sure initially, but looking at your face now I’m sure I was correct.” “Yes,” I replied. “I need to go to Hong Kong Adventist College.” This fellow student then walked with me for a long while to get me a taxi, and I reached my hostel safely.

After that incident, and as per my daily experience at HKUST, I always said when I called my parents that it was a myth that people only mix if they communicate in the same language or are of the same origin. For the truth is, people will mingle if you accept them as they are, you have a kind heart and clean intentions, and you really want to adapt and love the place where you are living. Indeed, during my stay in Hong Kong, I made a number of wonderful Chinese friends.

So I received a lot from HKUST. Along with a prestigious degree and excellent technical knowledge, I was blessed with incredible classmates and professors, and a feeling of human warmth that has made me a better person.

On 26 December 2011, I was back at Hong Kong International Airport, waiting to board my flight home after successfully graduating from my course. I realized then I was like a migratory bird that moves to a new location in search of a change of life and returns to her own land with an entirely fresh perspective on the world.