My Journey in Asia's World City Past Review

By (The University of Texas at Austin) - abroad from 01/15/2013 to 05/14/2013 with

Chinese University of Hong Kong: Hong Kong - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
This experience is priceless. Every UT student needs to invest in an opportunity like this. This experience helped me grow academically and personally. It really helped me see the big picture in my life. I went to Asia alone and I had to learn to live on my own in a vastly different culture. Despite the large student population at CUHK, my social circle the past 5 months was very small and intimate. Our CUHK exchange group consisted of Europeans, Australians, North and South Americans. We became a family as we were separated from our own culture, family, and friends. We had countless fun trips and experiences together. The friendships I made while abroad I will cherish for the rest of my life. Words cannot describe how beneficial this program was to me, but I highly recommend UT students to go experience it for themselves!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

- postgraduate courses are doable for UT students, I would recommend only 2 postgrad courses tops each semester if the student is undergrad *courses in the 5000 level at CUHK are post graduate courses - RTF students will find most course transfers under the COMM course abbreviation (communication courses) - most professors at CUHK test students based on memorization (multiple choice exams, fill in the blank, ect.), most tests will be memorization based where the student will have to regurgitate the professor’s slides, ect. The local students are very respectful and modest. Often if a local student wanted to sit next to me, he or she would ask kindly. Their kind, respectful behavior enlightened me.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administrators at CUHK are very friendly and helpful. Most professors are extra patient with exchange students as they know living in Hong Kong, especially for westerners, is a significant adjustment.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

the student will pick his/her housing options by listing a set of colleges by preferences upon acceptance into the university recommend 1. Morning side clean, new facilities close to MTR / central campus houses many exchange students includes a cafe and cafeteria 2. S.Ho each floor contains more study space than Morningside clean, new facilities close to MTR / central campus houses many exchange students 3. Pentecostal older, but still nice closer to MTR/central campus houses fewer exchange students than SHo/Morningside but it’s the location is key 4. Chung Chi next to the University MTR station (location location location) houses a good number of exchange students these colleges are closest to the center of campus and to the university MTR station, the other colleges are much harder to get to as they are located ontop of the campus’s mountainside making it very tiring to walk to as buses stop running before most exchange students arrive home from going out at night I-House (International House Blocks 1 /2) if the student has to have a private room, I-House would be the place to stay, however both buildings (blocks 1 & 2) are very very far from the University MTR and are located down a slope away from central campus, once one walks up to the 2 buildings one must walk down a long series of stairs. Thus, the walk is very exhausting to get to / from I-House.

* Food:

Hong Kong is known as Asia's world city. Tourists can find gourmet cuisines from all over Asia as it is a port city which sits in the center of numerous Asian countries. Food types including Vietnamese, Thai, Indian, of course Chinese, and many more food options are available in Hong Kong. Tourists can find local mom and pop type restaurants which are often much cheaper than many high end, commercial restaurants found on Hong Kong island. As far as food on CUHK's campus, western exchange students may become tired of the campus's cafeteria food, especially the hours of each canteen which close around 8:30 - 9 pm weekdays. However, Tai Po is the next subway stop after University station, which has a great night market filled with tasty restaurants where locals enjoy family and friend gatherings. The price of Tai Po village market is very reasonable! There is a great Thai restaurant in the market where my exchange friends and I frequented throughout our time at CUHK.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt that this opportunity was one of the best cultural experience since I was a Westerner embracing an Eastern culture. Hong Kong is indeed in the East, but its an amazing cultural melting pot, as its a global financial center where East meets West. I was invited by a local student to spend Chinese Lunar New Year with 3 other exchange students and her family in a remote walled village in Hong Kong. We ate traditional Hong Kong cuisine with her family, shared stories of each other's different background, discussed politics, and so on. Each of us exchange students were also given gifts by each of her family members. This was one of my most amazing experiences that not many Westerners have had the opportunity to experience. I was also quite enlightened when I integrated with local Hong Kong students for my group projects at CUHK. I didn't want to stay in my comfort zone and stick with only western exchange students. Instead, I chose to work with local Hong Kongese and students from Mainland China. In my post grad course (Communication in Intercultural Settings) our group consisted of myself (American), 3 students from Mainland China, and 1 Dutch student. Together we worked together to create an engaging presentation and report on the enchantment of Hong Kong's Happy Valley race course. As a communications student I found it necessary to integrate within Hong Kong and Chinese culture. Studying at CUHK is a priceless experience, all the many differing elements of students' classroom etiquette was a unique experience in of itself for me. I am so appreciative that I had the opportunity to study at CUHK.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Free Health Care services at CUHK’s University Health Services center (very short waiting period, the student will see his/her assigned physician with minutes) Extra $ money for vaccines - i.e when traveling to countries like the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand (recommended to take malaria pills + vaccines)

* Safety:

I felt very safe in Hong Kong. The city-country has a very low crime rate, and police officers are often seen through many parts of the city patrolling areas. Despite the massive human traffic in subways and on streets, I never once was pick pocketed, even when I left my purse unzipped, or was stuck carrying many shopping bags. The people of Hong Kong are very polite and respect tourists and other's belongings. Even when I was alone at night, I never once felt threatened by anyone in Hong Kong. I believe it's one of the safest cities I've been to, along with Singapore.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Food: $2000 (5 months - $400 a month - $100 a week) $150 weekly Taxi rate for each destination MTR personalized octopus cards $500-800 HK per wk was an average weekly amount for me (not including additional money for traveling, souvenirs) ($65-$103 U.S) | $260 - $412 monthly | $1,300 - $2,060 for 5 months *this estimated budget doesn't include the extra money needed in order to buy necessities to settle in

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? see above - additional information about finances - Mobile Phone if the student wants to set up a mobile phone plan for the time he/she will be in hong kong, I recommend going to PCCW to set up a phone plan. These stores are found in throughout Hong Kong. The nearest store to the University, should be the one in Sha Tin at New Town plaza mall or next door at Sha Tin Plaza Block C Elegant Tower. Banking Visa credit card my University Federal Credit visa was charged an international service fee of 1% ( I believe) per charge, but the cardholder must contact his/her service provider for assistance on that issue - opening a bank account in Hong Kong 2 recommended banks: HSBC - Hang Seng most accessible around Hong Kong and various parts of asia paying local bills - i.e phone, ect. once a student has opened his/her HSBC bank account he/she can now pay all bills through a local atm (there are 2 on CUHK’s campus - 1 at the University MTR and 1 at the Hang Seng bank) follow the directions sent by the billing company on how to pay the bill through the ATM
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? 1 - try to eat at the CUHK canteen's during the wk 2 - if the student is tired of eating at the canteen's they can find cheap food at the next subway station - Tai Po Market 3 - girls - watch your pennies when shopping - shopping in HK can be very expensive 4 - try to eat at mom and pop shops rather than chains, big commercial restaurants (i.e most exchange kids go to Mr. Wongs for dinner on the wkds) 5 - split money on cabs, make sure to ride with at least 4 other people to save money


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • making close, unique friendships with exchange students from all over the world (most exchange students were from Europe-Australia-NorthAmerica-SouthAmerica)
  • the cultural experience -the contrast between Eastern and Western culture - especially the contrast between UT Austin (very American, big sports culture) vs. CUHK
  • living in Hong Kong- it's like the New York of Asia - a melting pot, international business & media hub, and blend of western and eastern culture
* What could be improved?
  • Pre-Departure Advising (I had so many questions before I left, I think UT could have prepared me more)
  • My Courses Abroad MySAO webpage - most of the courses I found when registering for CUHK were not available either to term 2 (spring students), not available in English, or not open to Exchange students
  • CUHK canteen food - I grew tired of the local food at the campus canteens. In my opinion, my of the local canteen food was flavorless so often times I ended up eating fries and pork burgers.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Banking, Phone plans, Chinese visa, a bit of cantonese (for the taxi from the airport to CUHK), directions (the CUHK map was quite confusing for many exchange students)