Before studying in a UK university, I studied in an English-medium secondary school in Hong Kong. 12 years of spoon-feeding made me realized that this education system and elitism were toxic. This education is highly examination-oriented. Students with higher grades have more advantages in schools. However, willing to learn and being good at exams were different. This situation made me so much harder to stand out. Also, I was told that getting extraordinary grades was the only way to succeed by getting a good degree in a great university and a job. By experiencing disappointment, contempt and guilt, it was a struggle for me physically and mentally to keep going. Teachers kept remaining us about these grades were for yourself, which means getting in the university means everything. This exam certificate would follow us forever. It was not wrong but yet corrupted. LIFE = GRADES =EVERYTHING?!
Also, I sensed that people made friends when they thought others were “cooler”. For starters, these “cooler” people would have new stationery. Next thing you knew, schoolbags. Later, phones. This mental image was still embedded in me and developed my sceptical thoughts about schools, where groups of materialistic people existed. Now, we are conscious about photographs in food, clothes, makeup and travel. However, I wasn’t strong enough to refuse to let these mindsets get into me. I was always worried if I was not compatible enough in everything.
During my teenage times, I resented studying and learning. No matter how hard I tried, my grades were unsatisfied. Extensive reading was not in my routine. I was not curious about knowledge in the past, my mind went for passing the exams. After more than 8 hours of studying at school and private tutorial class, I felt exhausted to work on my homework every night. I did not even have time to revise what I learnt. It was a waste of time to understand the knowledge that I did not even want to pursuit. 109 days of non-stop learning, 7 subjects, 8 classes per day, 3 hours of after-class tutorials and infinite past papers cannot sum up my resources spent on this public exam. No matter how much I did not enjoy my studying, I still went for the exams and yet it was still not good enough for universities in Hong Kong.
After abandoning all negative feelings about my education in Hong Kong, I restarted in Shanghai, China. I studied Business Management for 2 years for my university degree. I made a promise to myself: improvement and motivation. I went to every single class. I listened to every class intently. I made all my notes and memorised them all. I managed my time well. I got enough sleep. I socialised with my friends. I gave my best shot in all my exams. Eventually, my grades were up. My input was nearly equivalent to my output.
Life in Shanghai is special to me. it was my cultural transitional and liberation period. It was all new and challenging to balance my networking and studying. I managed to reorganise my thoughts and learnt how to work better and smarter independently. I engaged myself in many adjustments and adaptations in lifestyle, study and communication. My organisational skill, time and money management were practised during this time. I have got out the box that I have been raised in, I understand how much bigger the world is. It was amazing to meet people from Indonesia, South Africa, Mongolia, France, England, Russian and some other places. It was a melting pot to experience cultural diversity. My cross-cultural sensitivity and awareness were enhanced. Throughout conversations and observations, I established my understandings about individual tendencies on power distance, individualisation, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and long term/ short term orientation. This gave me a brief idea on how to break the ice and blend in. In these two years, I realised what kind of person do I want to be in the future. My goal is to be a strong, independent and unbeatable woman.
When I was in England to continue my university degree, I kept improving. I was able to make new and decent local friends. Truly, they gave me the best three years. I have never experienced so much fun. There are countless moments that I am forever grateful. Also, I kept playing table tennis in the UK. Even it is an individual sport, players showed a great amount of trust, team spirit and appreciation whilst they were watching me play. Ultimately, I regained my motivation and positivity in self-learning. I spent a lot of quality time watching various TV shows and documentaries, reading newspapers, articles and journals. I also went to seminars and conference to interact with more intellectuals. I become Smarter, Better, Stronger. I feel alive, fruitful and happy. Life is too short to be regretting and upsetting about the past. I need to make the best out of it. I realized that life with independence, freedom and support suits me more.
In my master’s, my interest in Psychological contract. It was a concept to understand more about an employer-employee relationship in a sense of balancing their reciprocity. Effort should be reward accordingly. I am convinced that any organization should learn how to treat and compensate employees fairly. This makes a psychological contract as a backbone that supports efficiency, effectiveness, the flexibility of employees and employers in general. Learning, training and development are three pillars to strengthen the employee engagement to the next level so that loyal, productive and trusted employees will have fewer intentions to quit. Restructuring in the organization will be necessary to recover and regain business confidence shortly after COVID-19. Redundancy and downsizing get more revealing in this economic situation. I am sure that psychological contract can assist an organization to pull themselves together and thrive again if they are willing to invest more. After finishing my master’s degree, I decided to do whatever it takes to get back to the UK. Even I am pursuing at finance job in Hong Kong, I would love to further my studies in PhD in Human Resources Management anytime soon to help organizations mitigate the risk of losing talents, knowledge and time.