Nicole - The University of Hong Kong

B. Science
Semester 2, 2015

Academic experience

For a UQ equivalent full-time study load at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), I was required to take five subjects (#30 credits) for one semester. Although this may seem like a huge workload compared to UQ, the contact hours at HKU are less, with fewer practicals and tutorials. Instead, due to smaller class sizes (around 30 students), lectures for some courses serve the same purpose as tutorials. I was fortunate enough to credit my courses overseas to my Bachelor of Science degree – studying human physiology, reproduction, virology, forensics and genetics. 
I would highly recommend going to the School/ Faculty for help enrolling into courses, as it was confusing and I was directed to several places, before going directly to the School. Also take advantage of the add/ drop course period, as it gives students an opportunity to attend various lectures and therefore getting multiple courses approved prior to exchange would be a good idea.

Personal experience

I have no doubt my time in Hong Kong would be one of the highlights of my degree. Like many exchange students have said: it was truly such an enriching experience; gaining confidence at trying new things, becoming more independent and broadening my global perspective, were only some of the things I learnt while on exchange. 
With such a rich and vibrant culture, from the busy streets of Mongkok to the tranquillity of the surrounding islands, you can rest assured that there will always be something to do or see in Hong Kong. 

Accommodation

Although I did not receive an offer to reside in one of the university halls, I was fortunate enough to be assigned a university-affiliated residence. This greatly reduced living costs, as I was paying the same amount for a semester as some students were paying for their monthly rent in private accommodation. Although there was a lack of hall activities, two blocks in Pokfield Road Residence were solely dedicated to exchange students and made meeting other international people no problem at all.

Budget

Transportation in Hong Kong, either via metro or taxi, is not only convenient, but inexpensive, and the food is generally cheaper than Brisbane, depending on where you go. For example, at cha chaan tengs (traditional Hong Kong style cafes), meals are low-cost, however, may require the aid of a local to decipher the menus. 
With the money I saved from accommodation, I spent on travel. If you have a love for travelling, Hong Kong is the place to be. Boasting as one of the central hubs for travel around Asia, I was able to fly to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and do a day-trip to Macau. Without a doubt, the most money I spent was visiting other countries whilst on exchange and even then, there are plenty of affordable flights around Asia. 

Professional development and employability

During my time abroad, I was able to improve my fluency in speaking Cantonese, as my second language, and build my language skills by communicating more effectively with people who spoke limited, or no English at all. The change to a more fast-paced lifestyle in Hong Kong has allowed me to better adjust to different environments and embrace the cultural differences unique to the city. Aside from studying, I had the opportunity to complete a research internship with Dr George Tsao at the Department of Anatomy (HKU) studying nasopharyngeal carcinoma. To do research in a laboratory overseas was an insightful experience and something that I hope to continue to do in my future years.

Highlight

One of the highlights from my trip was meeting so many new people from all over the world – being the token Aussie in our group, it was fun to introduce them to Aussie slang and listen to their many attempts of the Aussie accent. 
During my time abroad, I loved how there was never a dull moment – from the never-ending nightlife to the hustle and bustle of Ladies’ Market and finally to the breath-taking views, Hong Kong has so much to offer.

Top tips

  • Travel as much as possible 
  • Make sure you make friends with locals, as they will know the best (and cheapest) places to go for food
  • Try to attend lectures – there are no lecture recordings!
  • Visiting the islands is a must! To escape the crowds of Hong Kong, catch a ferry on a weekday and enjoy having the beach all to yourself
  • Take as many photos as you can and try to invest in a good camera
Nicole - The University of Hong Kong