Nicole Chiu
Class of 2018


Medical Student


My first year in the University of Hong Kong has been nothing short of eventful. With the interruptions due to social unrest in November 2019, our first term had been cut short. Only three weeks into the second term, school was cancelled again and forced to go virtual due to concerns over the novel coronavirus. Altogether my weeks physically spent at school this year must be no more than 15.

Thus began my e-learning journey – lectures posted daily onto the university online platform, communicating with our professors over email, PBL (project-based learning) tutorials occurring weekly on Zoom. On one hand, I enjoyed the flexibility e-learning has given me and the freedom to work at my own pace. Being able to rewind on challenging concepts on the captioned videos has been especially helpful. However, I found myself becoming more lax with staying on schedule, so it took ample amounts of self-discipline to get on track. There were also growing concerns on the arrangements of our Summative examinations, and how our standard of learning would be affected with most practical and dissection sessions cancelled until further notice. Dissection sessions are particularly useful for learning anatomy, with silent mentors selflessly providing a three-dimensional visualisation of the complex intricacies in the human body, making it easy to see how all of the different systems come together. As a more hands-on person, simply staring at two-dimensional anatomical diagrams all day feels like I'm grasping at straws.

It became commonplace to stay home every day, and it was starting to wear on my mental state. I have always been an extrovert who enjoyed the company of others and frolicking about in the vibrant concrete jungle, but it was not until after forcibly becoming a homebody did I realise how much I took my freedom for granted. For some, freedom is simply not an option, and I realise now that it is a privilege to enjoy it to this extent. To stay sane, it was helpful to do some light exercise at home (for me, Just Dance on the Switch worked like a charm) or go on occasional hikes to get some fresh air, and to socialize with friends and peers despite it being a virtual practice. Thankfully, after SARS, Hongkongers are disciplined people, abiding to social distancing and keeping good personal hygiene from the very start – by late April, the local coronavirus cases were at an all-time low (zero new cases on some days), allowing school to resume in May. I am excited to see my friends in school again, albeit in small clusters, in spite of the looming Summatives at the back of my mind.

That being said, while Hong Kong's situation is gradually improving, there are other countries still suffering from this pandemic in a great way, with many not having access to quality healthcare or even basic preventive equipment. My thoughts and prayers go out to those infected and I hope, collectively, we can recover from the repercussions of the pandemic soon.