UQ Program: Bachelors of Science/Arts

While I have always enjoyed my time at UQ, by the third year of my Arts/Science degree I was ready for a change and wanted to challenge myself by doing something completely different.  I decided to go on exchange to Hong Kong University to further the International Relations major within my Arts degree.  After four months in the incredible city of Hong Kong, there is no doubt that the opportunity provided me with all the excitement, challenge, and amazing experience that I had been hoping for.

Hong Kong U (as the locals call it) has an incredible array of International Relations subjects, and generally has smaller classes and encourages closer student-professor relationships.  Although the contact time and assessment load was very similar to UQ subjects, there were a few more administrative challenges to get used to.  Registering at the university during my first week was quite the mission, and involved marching up and down the treacherous stairs all over campus in the Hong Kong humidity, and of course getting woefully lost.  While UQ might be built outwards, Hong Kong U is built upwards.  The first two weeks of classes are also what’s called an ‘add-drop period’ where students sample classes before deciding which ones to take.  This is a great opportunity to attend a number of lectures and decide which subjects are best for you.  Be careful that you get into the courses that you want however, as many of them have quotas. 

While studying at a different university is a fantastic experience that broadens your academic perspective, exchange is also a great opportunity to travel.  Hong Kong in particular is an amazing gateway to Asia, with easy access to China, South East Asia as well as South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines.  I chose to travel to Tibet and Nepal over the mid semester break (called reading week), and even climbed to Tibet-side base camp of Mt Everest!  Make sure you make the most of these travel opportunities, because it’s easy to get into a routine of regular uni life, and before you know it the semester has whizzed by and you’re on a plane home.  If you don’t want to travel too far, then Hong Kong has an amazing array of sites to see, from Pirate caves on Cheung Chau island (one of my favourite weekend trips), to weekend camping on beaches and numerous hikes.  If you make an effort to do something every weekend, then you might just be able to see all the sites.

The travel and weekend trips were made even better by the amazing people who come with you.  The exchange students form a tight bond very quickly and before you know it, you’ve made friends for life.  Sharing the amazing Hong Kong life style with your friends makes it truly unforgettable.  Some of the highlights included drinks in Lan Kwai Fong, visiting the famous Mr Wong’s restaurant (an all you can eat and drink fanfare), gorging ourselves on half price sushi, bargaining in the markets of Mong Kok and enjoying the view from the IFC garden roof top.  There’s always something to do!  A particularly great thing about Hong Kong is that you can live on as little or as much as you like, with delicious local, cheap restaurants in the markets of Kennedy Town, to living the high life in the foreign owned, foreign flavour restaurants of Soho.  I managed to live comfortably on AUD$200 per week.

My time in Hong Kong will be an experience that I will never forget and although there were a number of challenges, my time on exchange has benefited both me and my degree in a way that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.

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