Stories / Hilary


“I chose to come to Toronto.”

What was your initial future plan before coming to Toronto? 

Originally, I never thought of coming to Toronto nor studying at U of T. Instead, my plan was to study at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) for science and continue my life living in Hong Kong. However, if the Hong Kong Diploma of Education Examination and Assessment Authority (HKDSE), had not marked one of my finals wrong, I would probably still be who I was and would have never started a new chapter of life like this. 

What happened after HKDSE ?

After receiving my final HKDSE report card in July 2013, I knew right away that I couldn’t get into HKUST. At that time, I thought I was not good enough, yet one of my most respected principals reassured and believed in me. She suggested that I appeal my grade because “I deserved a better mark.” I did what she said and waited for the final appeal. While hoping for the best to come, I started looking at U of T’s life science program. Surprisingly, I grew a big interest in it which ultimately shifted my lens to wanting to study at U of T. Finally in August 2013, my appeal was a success, which  proved to me that I was capable of going to HKUST, just like how I planned before. However, I still chose to go to Toronto at the end and gave up on HKUST. 

When was your critical decision making moment?

3 days before releasing my final appeal, I had a critical conversation with dad. He asked me whether I wanted to go to Toronto even when there might be many life changes. By then, I had fully made up my mind and decided to go to Toronto no matter what. I think this conversation still resonates with me because I confessed my true feelings to dad even when the good news hadn’t happened. 

Have you ever doubted this final decision?

No. Without expectation and certainty, I felt ready to go. I wasn’t panicked or disappointed by following my plan B. Rather, going to Toronto became my plan A. 

How did you feel about coming to Toronto at first? 

It was a new chapter of my life. I felt free and happy. There were no longer old impressions and stories of me. This was the beginning of my new life as who I wanted to be in Toronto. 

How was your first year at U of T?  

I felt lonely because I wasn’t living at school residence like other freshmen. On top of that, U of T classes were too big so I barely made any new friends in class. Also, I wasn’t able to join TCCF, a student fellowship, during my first year of school because it conflicted with night class. Hence, I did not obtain any social friend group at the beginning. 

Were there other difficulties you faced at the beginning of your new life? 

I was stressed about my finance and monthly expenses. At the beginning, I would only spend $250 per month, but even that was hard for me. I thought studying at U of T would be  financially the same as HKUST, but I missed out calculating the expenditures and rent in Toronto. If I were living in Hong Kong, I could stay at home so there wouldn’t be any additional expenditures on top of school. I felt financially burdened and sorry for my parents. 

What were some difficulties at your current stage and career?  

I am currently working at the Toronto Western Hospital as a professional public health administrator. I sometimes feel frustrated and tired working at the hospital. At the beginning of my career, I was frustrated to witness many lost lives in the medical field. I sometimes blamed myself for not working fast enough and being too late to provide help. I was also tired of declining patients when the hospital could possibly provide help. However, due to various public policies, I have to follow the rules and to turn down patients, even when their lives are at risk.

What’s your hope in the future?

I hope that there will be a new social coordination and the government will create effective public health policies in the future. I believe that others in Toronto share a similar vision and that together, we can provide better help and health services for those in need.

Would you consider staying or moving back to Hong Kong? 

In reality, Hong Kong can no longer allow me to develop both financially and professionally. I can never financially support myself while starting a family there. Also, the Hong Kong government is not benefiting and serving citizens with the right amount of welfare and democracy. Hence, I don’t think I would ever move back to Hong Kong. More importantly, my boyfriend and I are both stable living and working in Toronto so it’s less likely we would want to go back to Hong Kong. 

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