Michael - The University of Hong Kong

B. Engineering
Semester 1, 2018
I came out of this experience hardened, more independent and, strangely, more confident.

Academic experience

Being an engineering student, there was very little option for me to choose from in terms of electives outside of engineering. So I ended up doing 3 compulsive equivalent course and 2 advanced  engineering electives at HKU. The academic system at HKU puts a heavy emphasis on independent learning, as little to no out-of-class assistance is provided (i.e. no tutorials, contacts), with most of my lecturers disinclined to provide solutions to examples and assignments after their submission. As a result of this academic system, I learnt to solve problems purely on my own. The registration/enrolment process was relatively simple. The online enrolment system was outdated – but easy to use. Similarly, registration required most of your details in hard-copy form, meaning that you would have to navigate through HK in your first few weeks of arriving to obtain these documents (e.g. housing documents in hard copy).
 

Personal experience

By far the best and pleasant memory of my exchange was spending time with my extended family. I was able to reconnect with them over the Chinese New Year holiday, for which I am very grateful for. Exploring the vast city at my own leisure was also a great feeling.
 

Accommodation

I stayed in an off-campus student hall provided by the university, and it was certainly an interesting experience to live in a dorm situation. My advice would be to get out as much as possible; the dorm is just a place for you to sleep. But also don’t forget to fill your dorm with familiar and comforting items from home.
 

Costs

Hall lodging fee was minimal, around $1300 for an entire semester. Food costs can be quite variable depending on your own preferences: University catering is very cheap, but restaurant prices in HK can be very extravagant. Travelling fee is reasonable, and definitely more affordable than Australian transport – but will also vary depending on your own travelling needs.
 

Challenge

The academic system I encountered on my exchange was unforgiving, indifferent, and uncompromising. Expectations in terms of assessment, written language (English), and marking schemes were also vastly different from that of UQ. I had to work harder and smarter to adjust to these new expectations. Being dogged and not hesitating to ask questions was also something that helped immensely.

Professional Development

I came out of this experience hardened, more independent and, strangely, more confident. The obstacles I overcame whilst abroad has conditioned me to cope in stressful environments – so things I would have previously perceived as bad, frustrating, or difficult don’t affect me as much anymore.

Highlight

Spending time with my extended family was the highlight of my experience, and has made my struggle abroad worth it.
 

Top tips

Please consider what you are studying and what host university you are choosing. This will make the difference between studying every waking moment during your exchange, and actually having a worthwhile time exploring your destination and yourself. Albeit, even if your experience turns out the former, you can still have worthwhile experiences (as I have mentioned in the professional development section) and learn a lot about yourself.