At first i wasn’t completely sure why i had chosen Hong Kong, mainly because i’ve been there so many times, each time for a few weeks and it was alright. It’s barely a dot on the map,but i guess there was something inside me that believed it had something more to offer than the tall skyscrapers, cheap food, quick transport, smog, people, more people and Disneyland. Now a whole month in, I was right, it may be small, but being an exchange student is not like anything else. Life in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong polytechnic university (hkpolyu) offers a lot more than what i had experienced before.
The applicataion process was really smooth, just online forms, then getting to the university and to the student residence was just as simple. Before departure, the uni sends you a lot of information on what to do. There is a whole “How to guide” that goes from getting to uni from the airport to setting up account access and checking in things. And if you can’t speak chinese, there’s this little print out in chinese they gave you so you could show it to the taxi driver to take you to the University address (i just thought that was ingenious).
So firstly, I’ll like to point out the things i think might be some good comparisons to Australia and UTS:
– Space – if you know Hong Kong, you know how precious space is. The dorms are tiny. It’s called “maximum efficiency”. It takes about 7 strides for me (at a typical asian height) to walk the length of the room. and two strides for the width. Imagine that, and then divide by two because its a shared room. The toilet is shared between two rooms (4 people) and then the kitchen is in the common area for the whole floor (almost 200 people). although rooms are small, its amazing how it has what you need. Bed + Study table + drawers under and shelves above. I’m use to having lots of stuff and room, so I’ve managed to fill the space already….but ill start minimising soon….
– Food – as with any cross country/cultural experience, food is always on the list. Hong Kong is the typical chinese food. Rice, noodles, congee, veremicelli plus meat and veggies. main difference: It is cheaper than Australia. Expecially the student canteens, a meal there is about HKD$20-50 which is about AUD$4-10. Size is a little small so you can get two meals for the price of one in Aus. Oh and if you go there in the peak lunch and dinner times….ITS PACKED, line almost goes down the stairs.
Also, there is a surprising amount of pasta, pizza and burger places (just not as many subways and maccas)…so you can easily have your pick of eastern or western cuisine.
And…..you can easily buy tim tams….just go to the local superstore supermarket (Which is as abundant as the number of woolworths around UTS). I’m mentioning this because i met an australian who bought her own tim tams thinking you wont find it here haha. But theres no vegemite.
– Uni semesters – Hong Kong (and most upper hemisphere countries) start the school year in aug-sept. So I’m in their first semester. Which i think was great because there is a lot of help around campus as there will be a lot of “freshmen” starting uni.
– Subjects – It’s nice they have the first two weeks of uni called the “add-drop period” where you can play with your timetable and attend classes to see if you want to try them or not. also, the full time load from UTS to HKpolyu is 4 subjects. But the average here is about 5-6 subjects, max 7. You can see how hard working they must be. There’s also all these general education requirements, extra curricular requirements…haha Australia seems relaxing =). This also means there is so much opportunity to learn new things, they even offer these “complementary courses” which are kind of like extra subjecst you can take for a cheap price and you learn it without the “stress of assigments and exams”.classes range from playing to guitar to dream reading to wine tasting. I’ve chosen a few of course.
– The octopus card – It’s amazing. It’s like the future generation of the Opal card. You use it to pay MTR (Hong Kong subway and train system), pay for shopping, food and some can even use it as their houe residence card. Get it as soon as you get to HK.
– Transport – missed your train? Next train in 1 minute. no kidding, i never need to check the timetables, just go to the station and trains here.
– People – they are everywhere. long queues and human sandwiches on transport are unavoidable.
Ok, thats probably enough about the comparisons, there is a lot more but this should do. And about the uni life? There is HEAPS to do. My aim was to experience the HK uni life, especially as an exchange student, there are events and things ALL the time. E.g. Hall events (if you live in the halls), exchange experience HK things (e.g. I’ve joined student tours and outings to go to temples, ride on a Sampan (a boat), watch scenery) all for a bargain price, uni events, cultural promotion events (like moon cake workshops, cantonese workshops, calligraphy) and student societies (just like UTS each with their own things). There is plenty of opportunnities to make friends with other exchange students and locals.
Its not even the end of week 3 uni and it has been more than what i expected.
Now for some more visual spam:
11656737 Peggy Liu