In a couple of weeks, many exchange students will be on their way back home to their respective countries as they submit their final projects and take final exams. For some students, it will be a return to their familiar environments after a whole academic year or just just semester of studying abroad at Hong Kong University.
Expanding beyond the small hub of Hong Kong University, the city itself is known to be a mecca of expats, foreigners traveling for fun, bankers and local native residents. The city is bilingual, with Chinese and English as the city’s official languages. While 89.5% of the population are Cantonese speakers, 3.5% are English speakers — which is more than the amount of putonghua speakers (1.38% of the population), according to the Government of Hong Kong’s website.
It’s not a surprise that the university prides itself in internationalisation. In 2016, HKU ranked third as the world’s most international university, according to Times Higher Education, a data provider company on global university excellence. In addition, 39% of HKU’s student body are international students.
In order to bid the exchange students farewell, we asked some to reflect on their abroad experience at Hong Kong University. Here’s what they have to share.
- Lea Ichikawa (Canada)
“I really enjoyed my study exchange term here in HKU. One point that I found pretty problematic in HKU, is the lack of mixing up and the lack of exchange between local students and exchange students. Also, there should be an effort on making every events and activities in English. A lot of activities or events I wanted to take part in were held in Cantonese, therefore it was not accessible for me at all. I would recommend other exchange Student to get out of their comfort zone and explore areas outside from the main center districts. For example, the Mongkok area has a lot to offer!”
- Christian Meklenborg (Denmark)
I have met a lot of new people and made good friends from all over the world. It is a very international University with a great mix of different nationalities, backgrounds and cultures. Life here has been very different from my life back home in Denmark. The biggest difference is probably the food culture. Both in terms of the kind of food I am having here and the whole culture surrounding the meal.
If I have to point out a negative thing, it has to be the fact that several of my shirts have been attacked by mould because of the air humidity.
I highly recommend HKU for other students, who wants to go on exchange. When you arrive here, find a crew, go to the nearest 7-11, buy plenty of beers and go to the rooftop of the IFC Mall.
- Connie Jin (United States of America)
I will definitely miss the food and how convenient it was to get good food around the clock. I’ll miss living in a bustling city that sleeps as late as I do, and I’ll miss the friends that I’ve made here, knowing that we’ll go our separate ways when it’s all over. More than all of that, I’ll miss how the experience challenged me, if you could put it that way. Living somewhere where I was a complete outsider and feeling lost, and having to consistently be out of my comfort zone makes you think a lot about any preconceived expectations that you have, as well as who you are and what you try to get out of situations. Having grown up Chinese in America, I think it’s helped me understand my culture more.
My best experience would probably have to be dancing with the dance society at HKU (Danso) for their annual showcase when I was here. It was a great way to meet local students and at the end of it all I feel like I took part in something here — it made the exchange experience seem a little less like exchange. I’d definitely recommend that to any exchange students coming to study here in the future — joining a club is the best way to get to know locals, hands down. They know where all the good food is!
- Shixin Guan (China)
During my five-months exchange experience at HKU, I’ve got so many unforgettable memories and new adventures that I can never get from anywhere else.
The most impressive thing for me about HKU is how dedicatedly and patiently students here treat their school work. The attitude of students at HKU also answer the question about why Hong Kong has such a fast-paced and intense life, because most young people here are quite competitive and hardworking. After this exchange experience, I realized there are lots of positive things for me to learn from the people here and I have to step out of the comfort zone to explore more about different cultures in my future life.
Writer : Roann Pao
Editor: Lucie Jung