Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Semester 2, 2016)
The biggest shock when arriving at PolyU was that very little was online. All the students prefer face-to-face contact and therefore no lectures are recorded, all questions are asked in class or you meet up with your lecturer/tutor, all assignments are still printed out and handed in and they are only just starting to build up blackboard. The students were all very motivated, spent so much extra time in the library and all group work was discussed in person. I really enjoyed my time on campus at PolyU. They had so many events and different activities always happening on campus. They may not have as many clubs but they put so much energy into the clubs and the different stalls they had set up were just amazing! Many of my classes were quite interactive with one having 40 students going on a field trip to a company that organises a simulation where you can experience what it is like living in aged care. This was a lot of fun and certainly an experience.
The halls accommodation was a bit of an adjustment having to life in such small quarters as well as with a roommate. It was super close to the university, to public transport and to plenty of restaurants which made it worthwhile. Most nights at about 7pm there would be a message from an international student organising to go for dinner that night so there was always an opportunity to be social.
Hong Kong is a very cheap place, particularly in relation to Australia. Whilst some things were more expensive than anticipated, travelling around Hong Kong and to other countries close by was very easy and very cheap. A real shock for me was the amount of people living in Hong Kong. I knew it was a small country with a large population but I really was not expecting it to be as busy as it was. Public transport would get so packed and at night just walking down the sidewalk sometimes would be difficult with all the people around. In saying that though, it is also a place that has many hiking routes and places to escape. Many weekends involved exploring a different part and finding those quite places where everything is calm. I was very lucky that I was put with some truly lovely local students that took me places, made suggestions and gave me any advice I needed. Before I left for Hong Kong I had a lot of people tell me there was English everywhere and while English was on most signs and most people had broken English, it was not as common as I had anticipated. This caused some difficulties while I was over there, particularly with some of the local students but for the most part could usually work around the language barrier.
The major highlight of my exchange was simply the friendships I formed while over there. I certainly miss lots of people but I know have friendships all around the world and there is a certain special feeling in that. While it was amazing to see the country and experience so many new adventures, it would not have been the same without new friends around me experiencing it too. I suggest to anyone that is going on an exchange to just say yes to everything and just really make the most of everything that the experience is. As the popular saying goes “it is what you make it” and I truly felt my exchange experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity with so many lasting memories.