The pungent smell of meat struck my nostrils as twelve-year-old me entered the crowded bazaar on the early Sunday morning. My hand was holding my grandma's jacket as she elbowed her way through the chaotic streets up to counters. I could not hear my own voice as sellers shouted out prices, origins, and ages of meat, exclaiming, “Here, the most delicious and young veal!”. Although my legs hurt after an hour of buying kilograms of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and all other kinds of greens, my grandmother remained absolutely concentrated and serious. I was dreaming of clean and bright supermarkets where music plays in the background as you slowly choose beautifully packed vegetables and meat, where customers queue up and everyone smiles at you. ‘No,’ I thought, ‘when I grow up, I will never spend my time at bazaars and wake up so early on Sundays, trying to save 2000 tenge. It is not worth it!’. However, six years later, I find myself waking up early on Sundays, grabbing my grocery bag, taking the MTR to the crowded Tai Po Market Station and buying potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and all other kinds of greens in an effort to save 2000 tenge. Life is unpredictable, isn’t it? This is one of the changes that I experienced here in the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where I have learned -- and am still learning -- how to manage my money, time and emotions.
I believe that many of the issues mentioned above are common challenges faced by university students. Questions like “Why am I here?”, “Am I pursuing the right field?”, “What is the purpose?”, “What if I fail?” make you feel uncertain and lost. However, withstanding all of these difficulties, we gain invaluable experience. University life is some kind of demo-version of the real world - "demo" because we receive an enormous amount of support from our mentors and professors. But in terms of managing money, time and emotions, the outside world is quite similar to what we are doing now. Although the first months of independent life were not so sweet, I do not want to quit everything and return to my old life. It is when you struggle, you undergo personal growth and development. I feel how much I have changed and I understand that these changes are crucial for my future success. As Theodore Roosevelt (1970) said, “Nothing worth having comes easy”, so every morning I wake up, put my smile on and continue completing this demanding yet wonderful path - the path of managing my money, time, emotions and life at university.