Having been at home for a 3 month long summer I have had a lot of time to reflect on my year abroad. It really is true what everyone says, my year abroad did pass in the blink of an eye. For a long time, it was the main focus of my life and a huge upcoming adventure which I cannot believe has already come to an end. I found it surprisingly easy to settle back into the routine of living at home and although I am very happy to be back with family and friends, I do really miss the opportunities of travel and adventure that living in Hong Kong gave me.
A post about where I enjoyed eating in Hong Kong…
Dim sum is a type of Chinese cuisine where you order smaller dishes usually dumplings, wontons and buns and share.
Dim sum at Tim Ho Wan is really cheap, you could probably eat a filling meal for around £4, However the menu is that not extensive, the barbeque pork buns are pretty famous.
I think the best dim sum in Hong Kong is Din Tai Fung. The menu is more extensive (and tasty!) than Tim Ho Wan, however it is not as cheap, but still affordable. It’s a really good option to take visitors.
After living in Hong Kong for 8 months, I finally got round to doing the famous Lion Rock hike which gives you the most incredible views of Kowloon and the main island. I thought this would be a good time to reflect on my second semester so far just before the exam period begins and the semester comes to an end.
After spending a few weeks at home catching up with family and friends it was soon time for me to travel back to Hong Kong to start my second semester. Unlike starting a new term at Manchester where nothing much changes apart from maybe subject choices and timetables, starting the second semester at PolyU almost feels like starting again.
Of course Hong Kong is not new to me anymore and I knew what to expect when I arrived at the airport and how to get to class. The main difference this semester is that most exchange students were only here for semester one, so this term there is a whole lot of new people to meet.
After only two weeks in to teaching we had a week break from uni for the Chinese New Year. At this time, my friend from Manchester came to visit me. Unfortunately, the weather was unusually very cloudy the whole week but I enjoyed showing her all my favourite spots in Hong Kong nonetheless. In the Chinese New Year break and especially on the first weekend, most shops (especially smaller ones) will close so I would recommend booking places to eat if you have visitors or want to eat out.
This month I also had my parents to visit. I feel that having friends or family to visit and show around really makes you appreciate Hong Kong all over again. When you study here it can be easy to fall into the routine of going to uni, eating at the same restaurants and going to the same bars and clubs every week; I must try not to do this!
Suggestions of where to take visitors:
The Hong Kong Polytechnic university is located in Hung Hom which is in Kowloon. Although it is not on the island, there are excellent transport links including MTR stations, buses and ferries which can take you almost all over Hong Kong (the MTR does not yet reach the south side of the island).
Hung Hom is a more local area so it can be tricky to find western food, however the main benefit of this is that the local food is much cheaper than western eateries which there are many of on the main island. There are many restaurants and 2 main supermarkets within walking distance from the halls of residence.
In this post I have explained some of the key academic differences I have experienced between Manchester and Hong Kong. I hope this will help you when choosing an exchange university or for guidance if you will be studying at PolyU.
Its been a while since my last post and all of a sudden I found myself in the depth of deadlines before I finish for Christmas in two days’ time.
Describing my first semester in Hong Kong as full on would be an understatement. Doing 5 modules which are all coursework based has meant I have spent most weekdays at the school working, however I always made time at weekends to explore and hike somewhere new. These 5 modules have also meant I have found myself under more work pressure and stress than I ever anticipated before coming to Hong Kong, especially as my grades count towards my final year and are not pass fail. I will speak about this more in my academic differences post.
I am still amazed by and continually discovering how culturally diverse Hong Kong is. In just half an hours ride on the MTR you are transported from a densely populated city to breathtaking landscapes with open space.
A particular memory that stands out for me this semester is when I went on a trip to Tai O with my project group for a module called Visual Merchandising. Tai O is a traditional fishing village located on Lantau island just an hours trip from my accommodation on Kowloon. All the houses are built on stilts on the water and the village remains a traditional bubble from the fast paced and contemporary city centres.
Having chosen to study mostly design subjects where I was required to make garments, window displays, and even a shoe (!), this semester I often found myself wandering the streets of more local and less glamorous areas of Hong Kong on the hunt for fabrics and materials. Whilst the language barrier was frustrating at times I found it interesting to see the more local side and understand Hong Kong isn’t actually as westernised as it may seem.
Hong Kong is a completely unique, vibrant city and like no where I have ever been before. I am pretty sure it is impossible to be bored here! I am however looking forward to some time at home with my family and friends and some well needed R&R! Before then I have an exciting trip to Tokyo planned to celebrate the end of the semester.
Cable car at the Big Buddha
Tai O trip with my group
Repulse Bay Beach
Upon my arrival in Hong Kong three weeks ago I was preparing and expecting to arrive at a place completely different to my home in England. Whilst Hong Kong has no resembelence to a small town in Buckinghamshire, I feel surprisingly comfortable and at home here already.
My first few days in Hong Kong were dedicated to mundane and somewhat stressful activities such as sorting out bank payments for the halls, registering on classes and buying bedding, toiletries and stationary. In hindsight, I think I should have arrived in Hong Kong at least four days or even a week before the official move in day to sort all these things out so I was less tired and more organised to start the term. Three weeks in, I am still finding my feet but I feel I am now very close to having more of a routine.
From the offset, I have been really impressed with the effort the staff and students have put in to welcoming the exchange students into the university and there is a really friendly atmosphere on campus which has helped me settle in a lot.
The halls of residence (which is a 10 minute walk from campus) houses thousands of exchange and local students so there are lots of people to meet. The other exchange students I have met, apart from the ones from British universities, are only staying for one semester which means they will be leaving at Christmas. Therefore, they are all thoroughly making their way through their Hong Kong bucket lists. Due to the 33 degree heat and humidity, I have not participated in many hiking adventures yet. I will save these for January time when the weather is much more bearable!
Despite this, I have still managed to explore and enjoy Hong Kong. I am looking forward to seeing what else Hong Kong has to offer over the next 7 months.
(Recommended) places I have been so far:
- Hong Kong Central Park
- Chi Lin Nunnery
- Hello Kitty Cuisine in Austin
- Happy Valley Races
- Mid Autumn festival celebrations
- Lamma Island (beaches)
What to organise/do in your first week in Hong Kong
- Purchase an octopus card from the customer service desk at any MTR station – these are used to pay for trains and can be used in supermarkets and restaurants. Essentially it is card that you load cash onto. You can then apply for a student octopus card which gives you discount off travel.
- Sim cards can be bought at local 7/11 shops. The deal I have is around £3 every 10 days for unlimited data, calls and texts.
- Go to IKEA (ideally on your first day) to pick up bedding, pillows, mattress topper, towels, etc.