What people don’t tell you about studying abroad at HKU January 03, 2022

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/02/2021 to 12/23/2021 with

University of Hong Kong / HKU: Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I guess I just grew up a bit as one does with studying abroad.

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.

Most of the professors expect you to teach yourself a lot, which is disappointing considering that HKU is supposed to be a top tier institution. Many classes expect you to memorize everything from the class instead of actually “learning”.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Other than an orientation which probably many students had to miss because of quarantine, and a few hour long tours of HK, they left you on your own. There were no other events to meet other exchange students, no clubs for exchange students, and the other clubs mostly aren’t exchange student friendly because they all speak Canto with each other and feel uncomfortable with foreigners.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Be aware that they pretty much don’t let any guests into the dorms, which is ridiculous.

* Food:

Amazing subsidized food on campus, including cheaper Starbucks. Also, eating out is a lot cheaper than in America, and there is a lot of good food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

HK is very self-segregated in that the locals don’t interact much with the expats, and there will always be an invisible barrier between the locals and the exchange students. The exchange students tend to stick amongst themselves.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

At the HKU health center, you can see a doctor and get most medications for free, which is really nice. However if you need to see a specialist, you need to go to a private hospital because public hospitals won’t be able to see you for like a year unless you’re actively dying. And since private hospitals are so expensive, you will have to spend a lot of effort trying to get your money back from your American insurance.

* Safety:

HK is so safe, you pretty much don’t have to worry about getting your drink drugged or anything (obviously still be careful) and you can walk around at night with no issues. One of the safest cities in the world.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

HK is an incredibly vibrant and fun city with great night life. I did have issues with the fact that since HK is not very diverse at all racially/culturally, the people really self-segregate so you don’t really feel at home there and just mostly stick with exchange students. This also applies to clubs, the clubs mostly use Canto to speak even if they know you can’t speak it, and there are no clubs just for exchange students, nor school sponsored events. Another issue I had was that a lot of the classes were not up to my expectations because they expected you to teach yourself a lot and memorize everything like a machine.


* 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)

I mean this rating doesn’t make sense because everyone has their own budget, but you can live pretty easily on a budget because food is generally cheap and so is transport.


* 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

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The city of HK in general
  • The campus was amazing
* What could be improved?
  • Actually have events/clubs for exchange students
  • Having more lively professors more focused on learning and not memorization
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? That if you’re coming from a small school and therefore no one else you know is in the program, living with other exchange students is necessary for making friends because there were no events for exchange students to meet each other.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!