Hey there! My name is Amy, and I’m on exchange at the City University of Hong Kong. What I’ll be covering in this blog post are my experiences of Hong Kong so far, and hopefully this information will give anybody who’s considering Hong Kong as an exchange student a push in the right direction 🙂
To those who are thinking of studying exchange at Hong Kong, my advice is to go ahead and just give it a crack.
The country of Hong Kong is a real glitzy, fast-paced, hard-at-work clash of Eastern and Western cultures. If you don’t know any Cantonese, that’s fine, as most of the people and outlets have a good grasp of English (as far as I’ve encountered). The food is delicious, the people lovely and the nightlife amazing. It is chaotic at times, crowds maddening and noises deafening, but also very organised and efficient. It has almost been three weeks since I’ve landed in Hong Kong, and I can feel that the rest of the time will just pass by in a blink of the eye.
The university I am currently studying at is the City University of Hong Kong. It’s situated close to the major city centre of Hong Kong, in the area of Kowloon Tong.
The campus is huge, with heaps of greenery, multiple cafeteria options, a swimming pool (currently under repair), and is a breezy walk from Kowloon Tong Metro station, as well as a huge shopping centre (Festival Walk). There are plenty of student clubs, activities, sports and societies to get involved with.
Orientation at City Uni was held two weeks ago, which was a comprehensive introduction to life as a CityU student, as well a temporary Hong Kong-er. It included keen helpful student ambassadors, pretty quick enrollment processes, visibility of professors and teaching staff, and excursion opportunities. I participated in an Oasis + Ikea tour, which was a guided tour of the Hong Kong Oasis Gardens, followed by a trip to Ikea for students to pick up whatever was necessary to live comfortably. I bought a 6-popsicle mould, definitely necessary.
The lovely Oasis Garden against the backdrop of skyscrapers
As a small plus, exchange students were gifted a Welcome Pack, containing a small microfibre towel, drink, and electrical adapter. 3 cheers for free stuff!
I missed out on snagging a room at the CityU dorms – which are abnormally cheap and close to uni- and looking into alternative options brought me to Campus HK, a private provider of student accommodation located inside the Bay Bridge hotel, a cool little place in Tsuen Wan.
Whilst the accommodation is not as cheap as City Uni dorms -one month at Campus HK is almost equivalent to a semester at the Uni dorms, but again, they are abnormally affordable, and the Campus HK fees are about average for Hong Kong- I am definitely happy that I live here.
I share a spacious room with 3 other City Uni students, where we share a large communal table, fridge, kitchenette and bathroom, and I also have a private corner of the room to myself, which holds a loft bed, study desk, storage space and lockable drawers. Our window has a beautiful view of the bay, and we also make use of the common room (The Link) in the hotel, which has books, board games, Xbox 360, Playstation 3, printer, power outlets, and heaps of couches, chairs and lounges.
One half of the room
The hotel also provides a twice-a-week cleaning service, access to the gym, pool, wifi, and a shuttle bus that brings us to the closest MTR stations (Tsuen Wan, and Tsuen Wan West). Whilst Campus HK is pretty far from City Uni (average around 40 minutes to uni, all travel time added up), it’s definitely worth it if you’ve missed out on the student dorms, and would like the comfort of having your accommodation looked after.
To try to explain Hong Kong’s food options in mere words would not do it justice, so I’ll just say that it’s definitely something you have to experience yourself.
Hong Kong classics include fish balls, dim sum, and egg waffles (I’m sure I’ve missed out on a million more), but there are also heaps of establishments that provide a wide range of cuisines. I’ve personally been frequenting One Dim Sum recently, a place that serves real tasty dim sum (in my last visit, I queued up with another student from UTS for an hour. I don’t remember that last time I did that in Sydney). I think it rivals, nay, tastes better than Tim Ho Wan, that restaurant dubbed “the world’s cheapest Michelin-star restaurant”.
Similar to the European travel experience, Hong Kong is very close to other countries in Asia, so it’s super convenient to travel around other countries for a few days. All you need to do is bag some cheap plane tickets, and you’re ready to go!
My roommate’s just left for a 5 day trip to Vietnam, another room-mate of mine just came back from a trip to Thailand, and a bunch here at Campus HK and CityU will be visiting Tokyo, various cities in China, Bali, the Phillipines, Taiwan, and South Korea, just to name a few. My personal plans are to explore Hong Kong in depth, but it’s nice knowing that the option is there, whenever I feel like taking it.
Domestic travel is also very convenient, with the efficient MTR (Metro) system delivering trains on my line every few minutes. No more pedantic live tracking of the Trip View app now!
Overall, Hong Kong is a fantastic place to go for exchange, especially if you’re curious about Asia, are an Asia-travel veteran, or just want to try something new and get out of your comfort zone. City Uni also has a large number of international students, which makes it really easy to make friends from all over the world.
Ps. fun fact, you can pay with your Octopus (travel card equivalent of the Opal card) for food here! So far, I’ve paid for multiple school cafeteria meals and at a vending machine with my Octopus.
Amy Chang, 11970326, IT