It’s Christmasssssssssss! (Almost)

I’ve been busy…again! Graduations. Doctor Who. Work. Illness. Blah blah blah.

December is coming! Christmas isn’t a really big thing in my family…but it’s certainly a thing! My boyfriend however has never received a Christmas present from anyone except me because his family just don’t celebrate it. This year he’ll be celebrating with my family and will get to experience Christmas like I think it should be for the first time.

On the 1st of December, we get cheap £1 advent calendars to count down until Christmas. It’s purely for the chocolate. We put up the Christmas tree and decorations. We also recently bought a light up reindeer that goes outside in our garden.

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My parents have informed me they are banning stockings this year (ruining the fun 😦 ) because me and my brother are too old and they’d have to make one for my boyfriend too. We used to wake up each morning and spend an hour opening lots of tiny presents in there while we let our parents sleep for a bit longer before going downstairs for our main presents under the tree.

We then spend the morning eating pain au chocolat’s or croissants (breakfast treat!) and opening our presents under the tree. After that we spend a bit of time just messing about with our presents before getting ready to go out to our Grandparents house. This year I think they are coming to our house though.

We have a massive Christmas dinner, usually of beef because none of us really like turkey, with lots of vegetables and roast potatoes. We have crackers and all wear the funny hats that come out of them. We then have puddings; things like jelly, Christmas pudding or cheesecake, which normally none of us really want because we’re too full. The leftovers usually last us the rest of the week.

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We then just relax a bit or play games until tea time. We have a mini buffet because we’re all still full! Just things like crackers, cheese and crisps. We then all watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special and any other Christmas-y TV that is on.

Everyone then goes home and we all go to bed tired! I hope my boyfriend will enjoy it. I always feel like Christmas is something you can look forward too all year. I wouldn’t want the feeling that there is nothing to look forward too.

How do you guys celebrate Christmas in your family, and in your country?

(P.S In December 2012, I went to Hong Kong for the first time with my boyfriend, so I’m going to be posting about the trip over December this year. Sorry if you’re not interested in Hong Kong but that’s probably all you’re going to get for the month!)

Image: the-pink-vodka.deviantart.com, christmasstockimages.com

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Going to University – West vs East

I had my graduation! It’s officially over now! I’m no longer a student! …I’m really going to miss it… 😦 University changed me for the better, not because of my course, but because of the experiences of moving away, living by myself and meeting new people.

Education is clearly rather different in the West and the East. Focusing on Hong Kong and the UK, the pressure in Hong Kong to do well is far greater than in the UK. Children do many more exams and from an earlier age. According to my boyfriend, children are ranked in their classes from best to worst (I couldn’t disagree with this more) and some primary schools want to see how clever the child is before they let them attend.

I want to talk about the ideas and attitudes that British and Hong Kong people have when going to any university in general, but maybe other countries will fit into what I am saying. I have no experience of the education system in Hong Kong. I can only talk about what friends have told me.

Here are 3 stories from my boyfriend (Hong Kong born but lives in the UK), myself (lived in the UK all my life) and my friend (Moved from Hong Kong a few months ago to attend university in the UK) about the decisions when it comes to the last part of education; university.

Story 1

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My boyfriend was living in the UK when it was time to choose a university, and he applied to the 2 in his home town. His parents didn’t go with him to open days or look at the universities. All they did was tell him which course he was allowed to do, not considering the fact he may not enjoy it, not want to do it as a career and most of all, he may be quite bad at it! He wanted to study Business or ICT. They chose for him Accounting and refused to sign guarantor papers for the fees and his rent unless he did what they said. My boyfriend has told me it is because they thought it “sounded better”. He had some huge arguments with his parents about moving into halls of residence. They didn’t want him to go because they lived a bus ride from the university he got into. Money saving was more important than the experiences you can gain from university. I admit for many people there is nothing they can do but save money. With the rising costs of university, people aren’t being able to leave home. But my boyfriend had the money to do it and he wanted to do it.

Story 2

union-jackMy parents expected me to go to university like they did, and that was fine because I expected myself to go too. It just felt like something you do, in the same way you progress through school. I always knew what course I wanted to take, a subject I loved, and my parents were more than happy for me to take whatever I wanted. They took days off work and drove me to various universities all over the country. They helped me decide on the pros and cons of each university, the city or town it was in, the location and the course. They gave me advice, but not once did they tell me where they wanted me to go. They didn’t want to influence that decision because it was mine to make, even though I’m hopeless at decision making! I think I picked the university they thought was the best for me anyway. They also supported me financially by paying for my fees, so that I would only have to cover rent and food and I wouldn’t have to take out a loan. I know I’m lucky, because a lot of parents couldn’t afford to shell out £3,000 a year.

Story 3

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My good friend recently moved from Hong Kong to the UK. She really wanted to move here and is currently studying at university. However, she had also applied for a course at a Hong Kong University. While she didn’t want to stay in HK, she was convinced that the course in would mean better job prospects because it was a slightly more highly regarded university. While this may be true in Hong Kong (I don’t know for sure), in the UK this isn’t such a big issue. Oxbridge may initially look appealing to employers, a 1st degree at a middle of the range uni is far better than a 3rd at Oxford, and probably easier to achieve. She was then extremely upset when she didn’t get into the Hong Kong university, or her first choice of course (this is understandable) and is planning on doing this degree, then applying for a different degree once she has finished, then doing further higher education courses afterwards. Now she is here in the UK, I think she has lightened up a bit, but she still seems desperate to be better than everyone else.

In my opinion…

…of course you want to get a good degree, you don’t want to waste all the money spent to come away with nothing to show for it, and you want to get a good job eventually, but university is so much more than working. It’s about learning to be independent, buying your own food, cleaning for yourself, socialising with new and different people, managing your own time and money, experiencing a new place, discovering yourself, and most of all having fun! You will have a life time of working ahead of you. You might as well have some fun while you can. University should be the best 3 years of your life.

What are your thoughts? What do you think is the most important reason for going to university?