An Insider’s Guide to Living and Studying in Hong Kong Whilst on Exchange

Posted in: Overseas opportunities - study or exchange

Why exchange in Hong Kong?

I decided to do an exchange semester because life so far taught me to take every opportunity and the University of Bath has been amazing at offering unlimited possibilities. To decide on a location was easy for me – I have never been to Asia before, so four months in Hong Kong sounded very attractive. Despite the city being small compared to other world capitals, it offers various activities with the benefit of not having to travel more than one hour from the top of the world’s highest rooftop bar to the sandy beach with a clear blue sea.

 

Island hikes, surfing, bars, LKF

Given the exchange only lasts for four months, everyone rushed to tick as many things off their bucket lists as feasible. Before coming here, I wouldn’t have ever imagined the variety of activities this place has to offer. For those who like to be active – there are numerous hikes, some start in the city, continue through nature, and in the end, offer a splendid view of the whole city. A popular thing that we’ve done is to plan the hike so that you reach the peak around the sunset and then admire the splendid view of the thousand lights below. On the other hand, there are longer island hikes that end on the beach and if there is any energy left, you might give surfing a go. Another common thing in Hong Kong is camping on the beach – of course, we tried, and it was great; hearing waves while falling asleep, but what we didn’t expect were large cows laying everywhere.

2 students on a hilltop with the city of Hong Kong in the background
Breathtaking view from the first hike
Student stood on the ledge of a mountain with arms outstretched. The city of Hong Kong in the background with a stunning sunset
The best location for an amazing sunset

The Hong Kong skyline at night-time with buildings lit up
The Hong Kong night skyline

On the other hand, the Central part of Hong Kong offers countless Soho bars with distinct features as well as rooftop bars, which have nightclubs just a couple of floors below.

The nightlife here is very active, and unlike Bath, where you need to plan and buy Score and Bridge tickets in advance, here you simply go to the Lai Kwa Fong neighbourhood (LKF), where all the clubs are next to one another, so you can try multiple music types in one night.

Lots of people in a Hong Kong nightclub with a big screen in the background
Blurry nights out...

Hong Kong also provides a very authentic experience as soon as we moved slightly from the central part. I was surprised by the poor conditions of certain areas, where the rooftop apartment offers a clear entrance without a single door on the way. This is probably only possible because Hong Kong is one of the safest places in the world. However, in these areas I have tried some of the cheapest and nicest dumplings, steamed buns, fish balls, and egg tarts – food never disappoints, but it’s good to be prepared not to eat many vegetables…

Image showing local food from hong kong including sweetcorn and aubergine
Local street food is a must

Image showing local seafood
Meat, meat everywhere

 

New culture, new friends

I was born and raised in Slovenia and moved to the UK to start university. I didn’t know anyone else from Bath, but my experience has been amazing. Being surrounded by open-minded international people and taking part in societies and sports clubs helped me feel like the UK was gradually becoming my home. I expected something similar when I arrived in Hong Kong, however, here I experienced a slight culture shock. This is by no means a negative thing, it broadened my horizons by encountering a different local culture, where people are polite and friendly, but it requires more effort to start an interaction. As there are around 300 exchange students at the City University of Hong Kong this semester, it is incredibly easy to find new friends to explore the city with.

Image showing a group of students waring facemasks on a night out with a traditional canopy and decorative dragon
Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival with new friends

Image showing a group of students at a party round a table on a terrace
Chill evenings on the terrace

 

We also came here to study...

With all the exploring to be done, it is very important to manage time efficiently here so that the studies don’t suffer as a result. The workload at the university is manageable but compared to Bath requires more work throughout the year given many group project deadlines. With studying being moved online since the pandemic started, it feels nice to finally be a proper student on campus again. At the same time, group work helped me meet more students and make local connections that would otherwise be difficult to form.

Image showing a computer screen and keyboard
Pretending to be a Canary Wharf trader for a day
With this being my final year, I have also enjoyed the content, which is much more applied to the current situation in the financial markets than the previously more theoretically heavy courses. The picture on the left is from the Trading Room Workshop course, where we do weekly trading simulations with securities ranging from bonds to commodities and under different market conditions.

 

 

Overall, my advice for people considering an exchange: DO IT, it’s one of the best parts of student life! And for people soon to go on an exchange: do as much exploring and meeting of new people as possible (while don’t forget about the studying part completely) as you will probably get very few chances to just visit a foreign country for four months later on in life.

Posted in: Overseas opportunities - study or exchange

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