Bachelor of International and Tourism Management, 2nd year
Bachelor of International and Tourism Management, 2nd year

Academic Experience

Different from UQ, exchange students at CUHK are required to take at least five courses to be counted as equivalent to UQ's standard, which is 8 units. I overheard, however, that students here are taking 7 to 8 courses on average - Yikes! Even though the course load is heavier comparing to UQ, I have a more comprehensive range of courses that I can choose from, from MGNT2040 Human Resource Management to HTMG3520 Shopping Mall Investment and Management, and the University has provided a lot of facilities for group discussion as a significant percentage of assessments will be group projects.

The hotel management courses here in CUHK are usually in the new Cheng Yu Tung Building, where the layout and seating in the lecture room slightly turn a lecture to be more like a seminar or conference and a lot of group discussion will take place. In addition to the formal courses, I take an additional non-for-credit Survival Cantonese for Native Mandarin Speakers class. As the name suggests, the class offers you some useful phrases that you can use in the daily life, especially when you are getting food from the canteen or ask directions for the toilet! Make sure you go to every lecture as attendance and participation will be taken and there will be no lecture recordings. 

Personal Experience

‘As the journey starts, it never ends.’ Going on exchange is not just about academic advancement, but is also a way to expose yourself to a new environment, meet new people from around the world, enjoy authentic local cuisines, and so on. I, as a Taiwanese and a frequent visitor to Hong Kong, found little difficulties in merging myself into Hong Kong culture and meeting local friends. Interestingly, at first I was assigned with a local buddy as the University’s buddy programme, but I turned out to be close to my friend’s buddy and became good friends afterwards.

Having some local friends also opens my possibilities to explore Hong Kong deeper as well as Mainland China. During the first two months of the semester, I have visited Mainland China more than three times and every time with lots of great food and surprises. One of the advantages that I have compared to others is my Cantonese skills. Even though English or Mandarin Chinese does work as an alternative to Cantonese, in some cases only Cantonese will do. To be honest, I did make some funny mistakes and turned out to be very embarrassing, but at least you tried and no one will blame you. ‘When in Rome, do what the Romans do.’ In Hong Kong, as a tradition people wash their dishes and utensils before they start their meal. I was quite shocked when I first saw it, but now I cannot start eating without washing my fork and spoon.

Accommodation

At CUHK, the vast majority of exchange students will live on-campus and you will also be assigned to a college as in the Harry Potter movies (of course, without the hat selection part). For my experience, I was assigned to Chung Chi College, one of the long-established colleges and is the closest to the MTR station. There are several hostels (which is better known as dormitories) affiliated to Chung Chi College, the one I live in is Pentecostal Mission Hall Complex High Block (local students refer to as Five High), where a majority of residents are local Hong Kong students. Also, the resident committee here at Five High arranges events such as spring feast to dessert gathering from time to time, and residents create a close bond with each other. As such, it allows me to further merge myself into the Hong Kong culture and I am so proud to be a Five High resident.

Budget

Living on-campus is a huge saving in terms of the expenses on rental; however, daily expenses such as food and transportation can be expensive if you compare it to other Asian countries. After you get your student Octopus card, the biggest expense you will find is food. If you are not in a mood to prepare your own food in the hostel, the average price for a regular meal on campus is around HK$20-30, but expect to pay double or more when you dine off-campus, or if you want some Western meals. You will find yourself using your Octopus card a lot to pay for your meals so make sure you top your card up when you are near the MTR station. It can be a difficult task to find a place to top up your card on-campus, especially when you are in a hurry to print documents in the library.

Professional Development & Employability

When it comes to the skills that I have developed here in Hong Kong, I would say it’s patience. As you may know, Hong Kong is a place where the carrying capacity has exceeded and it has a high density of population. Waiting for a lift, waiting to withdraw money in front of the ATM, waiting for your food at the canteen, or even waiting three to four times to enter an MTR train in peak hours, you will find yourself having a significant improvement in patience and getting used to waiting for everything. The other important skill that I have developed, despite it sounding cliche, is stepping out from my comfort zone. This is extremely difficult when you are using a foreign language in a foreign country and try to get things done. I personally found that it is easier to do when you are in a group of friends and you are the only one that can speak that language, chances are you will do a good job

Highlights

The highlight of my exchange at CUHK is actually the internship at Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Sha Tin right after the semester. The CUHK Business School has established a strong relationship with the Hyatt Hotel and I am very lucky to be chosen to do the internship there. I will be working as a trainee at the Food and Beverage department and I look forward to having this invaluable chance to work alongside the Hyatt team and acquire hands-on experiences and know-hows during the intern. I am confident that when I return to UQ the experience I gained at both Hyatt and CUHK will enable me to view things at a different level and I can bring in a new perspective in group discussions from what I have seen or experienced so far.

Top Tips

- Applying for a Hong Kong student visa is a complicated and lengthy process, especially for Taiwanese citizens. Get yourself familiarised with the forms and start preparing the documents once you are approved to participate on exchange.
- Unless you are doing an intern in Hong Kong afterwards, there is actually no need to open a bank account. The Octopus card is even more useful than you think and you can literally use it everywhere in Hong Kong, including vending machines.
- Buy a CUHK hoodie and a laptop cover from the Student Committee! This will make you a real CUHK student.
- Get the Student Octopus Card as quickly as possible at it offers you 50 per cent discount on every MTR journey. The application process is a bit cumbersome but it’s a huge saving.
- Have some travel plans while you are in Hong Kong. Don’t waste the great opportunity to travel because you are so close to Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Japan, and of course, Mainland China. Going to Mainland China is actually even closer to the Hong Kong Island.
- From the last tip, having your Mainland Chinese visa handy will be super helpful. Applying for the Chinese visa in Hong Kong can be very time-consuming and complicated from my friend’s experience.
- Pay attention to your @Link email inbox - lots of event information and invitations can be found in the email sent to you and you get more chances to network and meet local students.
- S. H. Ho Canteen and Maxim Restaurant near the MTR station are actually identical while the first one is much cheaper. You can also find a hidden gem - Starbucks Coffee there.
- Make sure you mind the gap and be aware of the difference in levels between the platform and the train. They mean it!

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