Letters from the dorm: Time off to apply our learning

By Alex Wong, University of Hong Kong
By Alex Wong, University of Hong Kong |

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My fourth semester of university is coming to an end, but a million things are happening at the moment. My internship at an interior design firm and a freelance art directing job at a T-shirt company have started, and I am more than excited about this artsy summer.

But recently I have been caught up in this common core course on Chinese philosophy, and I'm surprised to find myself enjoying it. Common core courses at HKU are general studies courses for first- and second-year students that touch on disciplines outside their faculties. As you may or may not know, I am an architecture student, so Taoism, Buddhism and various other "isms" weren't really at the top of my list.

However, I was motivated to think harder about these issues, thanks to my devoted teachers. If there is one thing I really enjoyed, it was the way philosophers write their papers. Anyone who has ever come across essays in architecture can tell you they aren't fun reads at all, meaning it's probably best if designers stick with designing.

The writings are abstract, difficult, confusing, and aren't meant to make any sense to people other than architects.

By contrast, philosophy papers try to talk about the most difficult concepts in the simplest words; as Laozi would tell you, language is a distraction, so its use and complexity should be minimised. But I handed in my final paper yesterday, so this is all behind me.

Any student will agree that the best part about university is the three-month summer break. Some hop on the earliest flight to a Caribbean island as soon as they are done with finals, while others intern at Google or Disney or an investment bank, which would make you sound 10 times cooler instantly. After all, you may learn about Taoism and human nature inside the classroom, but it's how you apply what you've learned outside the classroom that counts.