Fiona overlooking Hong KongI am a social work student at UQ, and completed an exchange at Hong Kong PolyU.  Social Work is a discipline that is often very specific to the local culture and political context.  For this reason, studying my field of interest in a different place was a significant learning experience. 

The highlight academically was studying subjects I am familiar with, but taught from a different cultural perspective.  For example, I studied a subject in Youth Work, and learnt that the issues facing youth in Hong Kong, and the way they are approached are quite different from the Australian context.  I also studied a psychology subject which explored human relationships within a Chinese cultural context.  This also proved to be a stimulating learning experience as I was able to gain insight into the field of Chinese psychology, and also the way different spiritual traditions such as Daoism, Buddhism and Confucianism influence individual psychology as well as society.

Fiona sightseeing in Hong Kong

On a personal level, the exchange allowed me to meet a diverse range of people.  As the only foreign exchange student in the department, I was in a position to meet many local students.  My classmates were very hospitable, and went out of their way to make me comfortable in Hong Kong.  I had many memorable and delicious meals not only with fellow students but also with teachers who were warm and generous with their time.  It was an exciting experience to get to know like minded people, with similar ambitions for a career in social work, even though we had come from very different backgrounds.

For me, the biggest challenge, and also the biggest reward was choosing to travel to a country that I knew little about, and that seemed like an unlikely place to study social work.  I had the unique opportunity to explore the social issues and nature of the social work field within Hong Kong – a side that tourists rarely see.

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