My time as a postgraduate candidate has almost come to an end and there are too many things from my one and a half years stint in the School of Design to write about. In the end, I chose to write a summary of the highlights of my PolyU experience, which will hopefully serve as a reminder for myself (and for those who are simply feeling nostalgic) to visit soon as I reestablish my roots in the Philippines.
I was the shy foreign student when I first stepped into the Jockey Club Innovation Tower. I remembered I was seated alone in the corner during our orientation, and seriously considered discreetly leaving right after the discussion, of course without talking to anyone. Surprisingly, as soon as I saw my classmates introduce themselves to each other, I mustered up enough courage to approach a group of three students. Needless to say, my first friends in school were (and are still) approachable and down-to-earth.
Photo: PolyU Design
One triad became a dozen and soon enough, I got to know better my classmates, and even those who are not in the same batch of MDes students as I am. We were forced (and oftentimes not forced) to study together, argue with each other (part of the group dynamic in classes), set up meetings and dinners and drinks. We had times when we would encourage one another to pursue an area of study, especially when choosing a topic for a subject requirement, and times when we would give ugly but constructive feedback to better the other’s work. Ultimately, hard and challenging times would call us to feed off of another’s strength and confront our fears collectively with brave faces, whether in the area of academics, career, or even life in general.
Attending seminars and workshops
I never thought I could get giddy and excited over a talk, much less when it would take place in a country away from home. Yet, I did.
Do not get me wrong. While I have learned to develop skills and expertise I never knew I was capable of having in the classes I have taken, seminars, dialogues, workshops and lectures, which were given by the crème-of-the-crop in their fields, furthered my knowledge in design, innovation and sustainability. Discoveries and lessons were definitely limitless that, the school events gave me glimpses, whether design-related or not, on how I could possibly reach my potential and create a strong impact in the community. I would go back to my dorm (or on my second year, my budget hotel room) feeling awe-struck and inspired with stories of success – how simple ideas became the staple solutions of the world today. In the process of empowering students like me, the events also humbled me as I witnessed bigger realities around me.
Exploring Hong Kong
When I was still a kid, my family would visit Hong Kong almost every other year. We always stayed in the same hotel, ate at the same restaurant and went to the same stores. I never had the chance to explore Hong Kong beyond these familiar places, and likewise never by myself until I started taking up my Master’s degree.
During my first weeks, I was hesitant to leave my dorm or school on my free time. However, I would get asked whenever I go back to the Philippines, “So, where have you been to in Hong Kong? What have you seen?” My answer would always contain the words “dorm” and “school”. So one day, with an open mind, I decided to explore my “home away from home”. I got out of my dorm and admired its nearby buildings. From Kowloon City and Hung Hom, where my dorm and PolyU are located, to the outskirts and fast-paced areas of Hong Kong Island, to Sai Kung and Lantau Island villages and other Guangdong provinces, I walked, ate and breathed with a thrilling sense of great adventure. It even rekindled my fondness for nature and sceneries to reach the seaside and to take a hike. Looking at the picturesque view of Hong Kong reminded me of how vast the world is and how endless the possibilities are. After all, there is a lot to experience and to love for the open mind and willing heart in pursuit of discovery.
Another aspect of Hong Kong that I would constantly yearn for is the authentic Cantonese Cuisine, more particularly the exquisite dim sum, savoury barbecue and scrumptious street food. It is unbelievable how every new dish I tried became my new favourite. I guess being curious and adventurous to try new things paid off really well for me.
I could have written more if not for the limitations in this writing entry. Nonetheless, I could say in retrospect, that these are not only things that I would miss from my brief stay in PolyU. I would continue to treasure these as memories for if not for them, I would not be the braver, wiser, humbler and more open-minded person that I am today.
Photo Credit: Margaux Tan, except as specified
Posted by Margaux Tan – Margaux Tan started her design career as an art director in one of the leading advertising agencies in the Philippines, creating campaigns and solutions that would benefit the brands and the consumers. She is currently in her final year, taking up Master of Design (Design Strategies), in the hopes of improving her creative and critical expertise.
MDes Talks is a series of Student Blogs contributed by students in different specialisms under the Master of Design Scheme. It is set out to share students’ first-hand experience in the d-school pedagogy, their projects, takeaways, and student life in general.