If there is a phrase everyone (including me) needs right now, it would be 加油 (Cantonese – ga yau , Mandarin – jiā yóu). This is a very Hong Kong expression which literally means ‘Add Oil’. However, it is a form of encouragement and it means to keep going. It can be roughly translated to ‘Good Luck!’, ‘Go for it!’, ‘You can do it!’, ‘Don't give up!’.
(This post is to give an idea of the workload and struggle I had during my IB second-year student life. My purpose is to inform about why I was unable to write on my blog – and also for my future self to read. I understand countless people will have busier lives than me. If you are one of those people, then please regard this as the laments of a puny IB student.)
I stopped writing on my blog for a few months, for many reasons. This year has been a very bizarre year for me, and for many people. Initially, I paused blogging because of the Term 3 IB academic workload. Term 3 is a very important term because our performance there determines our predicted IB grades, which are used for our university applications. Thus, I studied really hard and earned the grades I need. In addition to the 6 subjects I was doing, we also have to write our Theory of Knowledge essay and prepare our Theory of Knowledge presentations. Theory of Knowledge is a mandatory epistemology course unique to IB program. Moreover, I also sat for the SAT I and SAT II tests during my Term 3. Studying for them also takes a significant amount of time. Also, we have to begin our university application process. I applied to 10 different universities (because my school – LPCUWC allows to). University application process is hard, especially the essay writing part. It really requires a person to reflect upon themselves and would need at least 5 or more drafts to get a working essay. Writing different (supplementary) essays for 10 different universities and re-editing them over and over again is a gigantic workload (and honestly, an emotionally draining process but worth it in the end – I learnt a lot about myself and learnt plenty of writing skills). Oh, when I say university essays, I am also including the scholarship application essays – which some universities require in addition to application essays.
Therefore, term 3 academic workload means predicted grades + Theory of Knowledge + SAT I + SAT II + University applications. This workload was enough to force me to stop writing. Oh, also the students have to complete their Internal Assessments (IAs) and Extended Essays (EE) - which are mini-research papers. I completed all my IAs and EE during the summer break. Still, the remaining workload is huge. I am okay with this workload. I really enjoyed it, but it made me very busy.
Beside my internal academic workload and stress, there are also many events occurring externally, which somehow affects the mental state, if not physically. When I came back, there was an ongoing protest in Hong Kong. Then, there was an international outbreak of Coronavirus and all the schools in Hong Kong were ordered to halt their operations for about a month – thus cancelling our Project Week. Now, we have to deliver the lessons and conduct the exams online. These are events that I (and many people) had never anticipated.
However, in the time like this, I am truly grateful to be in an extremely supportive and warm environment. For all my university application processes, I had very close teachers who truly understood me and know me to write my recommendation letters. Since LPCUWC is a residential school, getting good recommendation letters and developing good relationship with teachers are not a big problem. Moreover, I have my supportive close friends (and my amazing chemistry teacher) who always encourage me to go through everything. In term 3, I invested in spending quality time with them because those times are precious (I will write more later). For my Chemistry Extended Essay, I had the best supervisor I could ever ask for, who pushed me to my limits (Dear Jon, this is not a shameless flatter if you are reading this). I also had the opportunity to develop friendships with the incoming first-year students. They are amazing. In short, I could not have made it through without these supports.
The past five months were transformative months to me, in terms of character and resilience. I learnt to accept that life is unpredictable, but as long as we do not give up and keep going, there is meaning in living. As I am writing this, I am currently on the airplane flying over India, heading to Abu Dhabi. I got invited to New York University in Abu Dhabi (one of the universities I applied to) to come and participate in the Candidate Weekend as a part of the evaluation for admission. This is a very good university and I really want to go there. I will know the results shortly after I came back to Hong Kong and I am really looking forward to it. Life is not bad, after all.
Afterwards I will have my IB mock exams (online, due to suspension of schools in Hong Kong). I will be free after the mock exams and begin preparing for the actual IB exams. However, I will be free from time to time, thus I will start writing the blog again – mostly about the events from Term 3 which I did not have a chance to write, and about my weekend in Abu Dhabi. Add oil, gayau and stay tuned.
Update: I got accepted to NYU Abu Dhabi with full aid!!