Charmaine Au-Yeung. MA Modern History and Philosophy, 1 July 2021

Charmaine Au-Yeung
Charmaine, from Hong Kong, pictured at home in Edinburgh.

What attracted you to St Andrews in the first place?

I grew up in a very big city, so I wanted to live somewhere small and close-knit for a few years.

What are your favourite memories of being a student here?

Ukelear Fusion, performing at the Edinburgh Fringe, acting in lots of musicals and plays, and going on long walks if I needed to clear my mind.

When you reflect on your time in St Andrews, how do you think it has changed you?

This one is hard to narrow down as I’ve grown quite a lot! One thing that I’ve gotten better at doing is taking breaks when I need to, particularly when I’m stressed or worried. I’ve always felt like I needed to work 24/7 to do well, but now I realise that doing things, like sitting by the pier to read, are as important as work for me!

Where have you spent your time since the outbreak of Covid-19? What was the experience of virtual life, teaching and playing for you?

When Covid first started, I initially planned to just do my class work and hang out with my friends. Since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to develop, with some of my friends, The Spence Project: a new vertically-integrated project that researches St Andrews’ and Fife’s links to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. I also performed in a virtual musical, The Last Five Years, which was so much fun.

How do you think events of 2020/1 (coronavirus, lockdown life, BLM) have shaped the graduating Class of 2021?

We’ve become really resilient, and I think that we’ve all learned to make the most out of what has been a bad year.

What was it like finishing your studies towards the end of the pandemic?

A little bit underwhelming in the sense that there’s been no pomp. But I’ve gone on a lot of beachside picnics and also done a few dissertation photoshoots with my friends, which have been really fun ways to celebrate my time here.

What are your hopes and plans for the future (both for yourself personally and the world at large)?

With a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, I’d really like for the people in my community to be able to walk down the street without worrying, and for others to step in whenever they see injustices take place (Asian or not). And in my personal life, I’d really like to work in the education sector, perhaps influencing and working on policy in government! I’m not sure yet.

Charmaine Au-Yeung

What will you miss most about ‘the bubble’ of St Andrews?

The landscape and the people. Also, North Point.

What are your plans for your own virtual conferral day?

I’ll have just moved into a new flat then and will also be working during the day, so no daytime celebrations unfortunately! I might make myself a nice meal though, and maybe also a cake.

How do you feel now that we are beginning to see the light at the end of this pandemic?

It kind of doesn’t feel real yet, I don’t really want to get my hopes up yet until it’s all really settled everywhere.

And finally, do you hope to come back in 2022 to graduate in person?

Yes, definitely!