Letters from the dorm: A summer well spent

By Elaine Leung, Year Two, Durham University (UK)
By Elaine Leung, Year Two, Durham University (UK) |

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At university, I was told a lot about seizing every single opportunity and applying for internships. I was also told, though, that internships should only be done after the second year of university, and that the summer after the first year is about the only time we can afford to have fun.

At the time of writing, I just finished my last day working at the administration department of a hotel for two and a half months. My summer job entailed the usual clerical work such as filing and organising files, and I was also responsible for translating the hotel's policies and guidelines from Chinese into English.

Let's put aside talks of making connections and building a better portfolio; the most precious experience I gained from the job is meeting people from different walks of life. All my life, I have been surrounded mostly by people of my age. Even at university, I still feel that I am in a bubble, meeting people of similar cultural, academic or family backgrounds.

This summer, though, I got to hear about parenting, wedding preparations and even retirement plans. I realised that people work hard to earn a living. This is one of the things my parents have been always telling me, but something I never understood until I started working and earning pocket money. This summer has been enriching in terms of learning more about myself and adapting to the real world.

It's the little and big chats that made my summer so special. It's the different people I met that made me feel so grateful for what I have. I was given a painting of three wise monkeys by a colleague reminding me to "see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil". This is something I will always remember in life.

I don't think there is a fixed definition for "a good summer". Any summer spent learning about yourself or the world is a summer well spent.