Pamela - The University of Hong Kong

B. Engineering/Science

Academic experience

I studied third and fourth-year biomedical engineering and biomedical science courses with other engineering students who were to graduate after my semester of exchange. Courses were quite full on, with assessments almost every week. In addition, the lack of lecture recordings made this a challenging yet rewarding experience. 

The most elating thing about this opportunity abroad is being able to expand my learning further than what was offered in Australia at UQ. For my medical imaging course, we got to attend a hospital to see the machines and for my biophotonics course, we got to use advanced medical technology to see light interactions with biological tissues. However, it was a shame that a large amount of content for a course was not assessed, as I wanted to test the extent of my knowledge. The lack of tutorial classes also made writing assignments that much harder. But, in saying that, lecturers and tutors were more than helpful and allowed office visits where we were able to ask questions and get answers on the course.

Personal experience

This trip abroad opened up a whole new aspect of my life; from the lack of familiar faces to the foreign surroundings. The adventure of moving in, getting a bank account and obtaining essentials such as a SIM cards, while tiring and hectic, was an experience nonetheless and I enjoy the new found independence and responsibilities. This was also the first time I’ve stayed at a university hall as well. The hall life was great! It was nice being assimilated into the Hong Kong lifestyle with local students. I made friends and met new people from Hong Kong as well as from all over the world. It’s so great to share stories and to further understand differences in culture and values. 

As extracurricular, I also joined the HKU dance team; the team held high expectations of themselves and practices were inherently integrated into their university schedule every week. We practised extensively for the final year performance, and the drive to perfect the routine was inspirational. I also signed up as a temporary HKU Student Ambassador and got to share my Australian culture with high school students from Kowloon.

Accommodation

I lived in a university hall. My particular hall was a bit far from the university (about 45 minutes walking distance compared to 5 minutes for other halls) but my floormates were welcoming and everyone greeted each other when entering and exiting the lifts. I also lived across from another exchange student and we spent a lot of time together at our hall and exploring Hong Kong.

Being far away from HKU and thus away from the MTR station, it was a little inconvenient to get to places since after taking the MTR (the train system in Hong Kong), you still had to take a bus home unless you wanted to walk 45 minutes. My recommendation from personal experience is to try your best to get into a hall or college closer to HKU. All for the sake of convenience, time and money.

Budget

Catching the subway/MTR is easy, fast and cheap. Students travel at a discounted price. There is a HKU station which is super convenient. If you live a bit far from campus though, you may need to pay extra bus fares or take the HKU shuttle bus which is cheaper. 

Campus food is pretty cheap however once you go out, some meals can cost the same as eating in Brisbane. There are places called "Cha Chaan Teng" meaning tea restaurant in Cantonese. These are restaurants where you can get cheaper food fast. They will serve you tea instead of water. Don't be surprised however if workers find it difficult to speak to you in English. There were a lot of times I needed to use Cantonese to order at a Cha Chaan Teng, however, menus have photos and if English is a must, aim to order from a younger worker. Try and not shy away from these sort of restaurants. You may find yourself sharing tables with strangers and having a bit more difficulty when ordering however you can eat some of the best local cuisines from a Cha Chaan Teng!

Professional development and employability

Sharing the Australian culture with students as a HKU Student Ambassador!

You learn to work together with different people of different backgrounds and academic expectations. You learn to adapt quickly to the Hong Kong environment, how it operates, its expectations and standards. This will be helpful with professional development so you can quickly adapt to a company’s structure of conducting business. 

Being able to study the courses I did in Hong Kong allows me to have knowledge in areas I believe will be beneficial for me in my future career. I was able to choose courses not offered at UQ that I hope will allow me to stand out from other UQ graduates when it comes to applying for jobs in my field of interest.

Highlight

Being able to study abroad and to experience living in Hong Kong was a highlight. While being able to have fun, meet new people and travel to new places, another reason to travel to Hong Kong was to really decide whether I wanted to work there in the near future. I was able to speak to locals, lecturers, exchange students and even employers from companies I was interested in working for and what they thought about living and working in Hong Kong. The job market in Hong Kong.

Another quick mention is my travels to Cambodia. It was a strong desire of mine to travel to Cambodia for the past few years and to learn more about its culture and difficult past. I was able to travel to Cambodia during a week's holiday during the Semester and that's a week of my life I won't forget.

Top tips

  • Put yourself out there and sign up for events organised for exchange students or even events where you can meet locals. Exchange is one of the best opportunities to meet people from all over to world and I find it's more fun to explore the country with a group of friends.
  • Going on exchange is a once in a lifetime opportunity so if you can, try not be too conservative with money as some of these opportunities, you may not get to experience again or for a long time.
  • For Hong Kong exchange students, be prepared for the faster pace of life. Locals are always moving and like to make the most of every minute of the day. This was something I had to adjust to. Getting out of the way for people trying to speed past and to stand on the right on escalators to allow people to walk up (or down) on the left-hand side.
  • The Octopus card which is like our Translink Go Card is used to get onto buses and MTRs. A handy thing about this card is that the money you put on this card can also be used to pay for things such as groceries or for something from 7-11 or to purchase campus food. Other stores will also accept payment from Octopus card.
Pamela - The University of Hong Kong