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Adapting to the Pandemic, Adapting to Local Culture

Adapting to the Pandemic, Adapting to Local Culture

Brinna Ellen Louisa Barlow’s Story
Faculty of Science

Brinna is a third year PhD candidate from Britain, studying climate change and the impacts of land usage on food webs. Outside research, she is a travel enthusiast who has visited all seven continents and enjoys learning about different cultures.

Her decision to come to Hong Kong all started with a moment of serendipity. In the staff photo of her potential supervisor Dr. Louise Amy Ashton posted on the university website, she was posing with a large moth. The photo was weirdly similar to Brinna’s Facebook profile picture at that time - also with bleached blonde hair and holding a large moth.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted her research heavily, forcing her to scrap her fieldwork plans in Borneo. Outside of the PhD realm, however, she thinks being in Hong Kong is her own learning experience: She does her groceries at the wet market using the Cantonese phrases she learnt. She was particularly intrigued by the juxtaposition of skyscrapers and wet markets in the city - a sight she has not seen elsewhere in the world.

Photo of Brinna with her friends
“It’s best to adapt and take situations as they come.”

With travel plans halted, she turned to a deeper way of exploring cultures - just recently, she joined a few colleagues to celebrate the Laba festival, learning from them about the local traditions of Northern China. Having been exposed to various cultures, she says that we are more alike than we are different. “Travelling around prepares you for living in another country, as a result I didn’t experience much of a culture shock moving to Hong Kong.”

In terms of advice for fellow students, Brinna suggests that adaptability is a skill that we all should develop: “It is a strength in academia, in studies, in jobs; definitely in relationships - It’s best to adapt and take situations as they come.”

Written by:
Truston Yu
Year 4, Faculty of Social Science
September 2020

Adapting to the Pandemic, Adapting to Local Culture