After one week of being an exchange student at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), let me tell you something: studying abroad is worth it. If you choose to study in a country that has a totally different culture from where you were raised then the second you put a foot in that country you will find everything different – even if you’re a third culture kid, I swear.
Mad Taxi driver?
I flew with my friends to Hong Kong (HK), and our first challenge was to get a taxi to our residence. Taxi drivers do not speak English, we only had our address in Chinese on a piece of paper. Our suitcases did not fit properly in the boot so he could not close it. We didn’t freak out because we saw many people in the same situation and everyone acted like it was normal. All we thought was WELCOME TO HONG KONG. You really feel like you’re in a different world. That is what’s great about it!
Stairs, Stairs, STAIRS EVERYWHERE
No matter how much you’ve researched the city you are heading to, internet does not tell you everything. It does not tell you for instance how actually few people can speak English, it does not tell you either that nothing is flat in Hong Kong. The moment you step out of your flat, you will encounter hills and stairs, and some are quite steep indeed. Of course there are escalators but not everywhere. My friends and I took it as THE occasion to work out. We also discovered a natural infinity pool when we went hiking, which wasn’t mentioned in our travel guide and the surprise definitely gave more charm to that place. In fact no matter what happens during your study abroad, as you’re constantly eager to discover and as you’re going crazy about every little thing that’s different from home, you’ll never be disappointed!
For nearly 4 days we were constantly jet lagged, when it’s 4pm in HK it’s 8am in London so my friends and I would just suddenly veg out for two hours because it was as if we didn’t sleep at night at all. But do not worry you’ll be able to sleep even the first night, because every day you’ll do a new thing. You’ll cram in some hiking, shopping, visits, or even IKEA bargain haunting with your friends! So at the end of the day you will feel like you’ve lived three weeks already and that is really what is best about studying abroad. It is the fact that you will do more than you’ve ever done in your life, you get a sense of fulfilment, a feeling that you’ve spent your day well!
My best advice
Never stay alone. There is always an opportunity to make friends, whether you are in a society (where you will have the best chance to mingle with locals), in the common room of your accommodation, in class, at the cafeteria, anywhere is a great opportunity to make friends and everyone is even more open to making friends than in freshers ;). It’s been a week and a half that I’ve been in Hong Kong, I’ve been out a lot, I’ve tried a lot of local restaurants where we had unlimited drinks and food for £6! All my days are so filled up with study and visit that I haven’t had the time yet to feel homesick at all, if I ever will.
Studying abroad is really one of the best opportunities of your life. If you have the chance, take it because it really is the occasion to mix studies and travel! Learning about Asian’s point of view on politics is fascinating! But that topic is for another time!