Emotional aftermath

By Nooa Karlo ((previously) University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

After finishing my studies in the University of Hong Kong, following the last deadline I had for term paper submissions on the 24th of May, I soon left to travel in South Korea and Japan for almost three weeks. Now, I suppose I could talk about that time, because there certainly would be a lot to talk about, evidenced by over 2000 pictures I took while travelling. But looking back at things now that it’s been a few months since I returned home and now that there’s an entire summer between Hong Kong and me reveals that I really do miss staying there. And not just staying there, I miss the food, the buildings, the ocean, the colours, the sounds. (Ok there’s one thing I don’t miss and that’s whatever the weather was very quickly becoming as spring progressed towards summer but I barely avoided that so let’s not count that.) I miss the people I met and the experiences I had, even though it’s sometimes difficult for me to remember it all coherently, because there was just so much going on. Eventually I got used to the new things and they became everyday things, old things. So now that I won’t be going back anymore, at least not as an undergraduate exchange student, now that my room in the JCSVIII is no longer my room, now that I can use my credit card in practically any shop at any time without having to fear the card reader will say ‘connection lost’ at any moment, now that I can’t awkwardly say the only greeting I learnt in Cantonese to the people around me anymore, it just feels strange. Because it feels like I should be going back, but I’m not. I don’t miss Hong Kong in the way that would make my chest feel tight and my face contort to sadness, but I miss it in the way that things just don’t feel right now that I’m not there anymore. Five months was a really short time and I wish I could’ve stayed for longer, but it was just enough to make me feel somewhat at home even on the other side of the world. To those people who helped make me feel that way, I would like to say thanks. I hope I will be able to keep in contact with you in the future too! And to those who were affected by the typhoon a week ago, not only in Hong Kong but especially in Hong Kong, I wish strength to overcome whatever problems it caused you. Having seen the destruction the storm left in its wake has made me worry about the safety of everyone there. Hope you’re all okay. I guess that’s all I wanted to say about my time in Hong Kong on this blog. Goodbye, and thanks for those who’ve read my posts as well!

One of the many faces of Hong Kong

Looking back on academic differences and moving on to whatever’s next

By Nooa Karlo (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

It’s finally the end. After a long four and half months, I’ll be leaving Hong Kong on Monday morning. It really doesn’t feel as long when looking back on the final day, though. It feels like the exam period that’s lasted for the past four weeks represents a kind of escalation in the perceived speed at which days have been passing. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way. Everyone’s busy during exams, and I was especially so because I had so many modules that required final papers instead of exams, and the deadlines for those papers were almost all of them in early May. In addition, I spent four days travelling and visiting a friend in Taiwan in late April, which, while allowing me to take my mind off of studying, also took some energy. The April-May juncture left me quite exhausted, so I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to rest as much as I can. And now I have to leave? It feels very sudden, even though I’ve had everything planned and ready for over a month now. But at the same time I feel like I’m quite ready to move on.

The National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, Taiwan.

Continue reading “Looking back on academic differences and moving on to whatever’s next”

Doing everything vs. staying sane

By Nooa Karlo, (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Not a stereotypical exchange student.

There’s a common and stereotypical image of exchange students as these endlessly spirited and energetic creatures that will take every and any chance to find new experiences and opportunities. They’re people who are always smiling, going out, organising and participating in activities, partying, exploring and experiencing. Sometimes this also includes studying hard, sometimes not. In any case, it has been clear to me from the beginning that I did not fit well into this image. Continue reading “Doing everything vs. staying sane”

Some first impressions of Hong Kong, coloured by secondary reflections

By Nooa Karlo (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Waterfront near Kennedy Town

It took me a long time to start writing this text, which goes to show how busy I have been with various things after arriving. Continue reading “Some first impressions of Hong Kong, coloured by secondary reflections”

Field Trip Opportunities

Riva Japaul/Anthropology/CUHK

One of the things that I love at CUHK is how many field trips we go on. I loved the latest one I went on so much that I’m now writing my final paper on it. The field trip we went on was to visit Operation Dawn, a faith-based drug rehabilitation centre. Operation Dawn is situated on Dawn Island, an incredible remote island.

The journey to the field trip only enhanced my love for Hong Kong, as our lecturer hired out a private boat to take us across to the water to the island. The hour long journey was amazing as it was a really sunny day and we could sunbathe on the top deck.

View from the boat our lecturer hired!

Continue reading “Field Trip Opportunities”

Academic Differences between CUHK and Manchester

Riva Japaul, CUHK, Hong Kong

Before coming to Hong Kong I assumed that the teaching style at CUHK wouldn’t be that different to Manchester, 3 months later and I’ve been proven wrong time and time again. The language barrier is definitely a recurring theme in these differences!

A photo from my trip to Tokyo before we get into the academic stuff!

Continue reading “Academic Differences between CUHK and Manchester”

Hong Kong: First Impressions

Riva Japaul, Anthropology, CUHK, Hong Kong

I’ve been in Hong Kong for just over a month now, and it definitely feels like home. I was expecting to experience some degree of culture shock, but it’s been surprisingly easy to settle into life in Hong Kong. Although HK is completely different to Manchester and my home in London, the energetic nature of the city makes it feel familiar.

Tai Po Market

Continue reading “Hong Kong: First Impressions”

Christmas in the Tropics and Post-Abroad Wanderlust

Elena Thomas: The Chinese University of Hong Kong 

The last month abroad was somewhat mentally and emotionally challenging for multiple reasons. Firstly, the last month was exam/final paper period and I was rather behind in my studies due to the fact I was often travelling/adventuring on weekends rather than studying. At first it took some time to get back into the routine of daily/extended library visits but don’t fear-it’s a bit like riding a bike…Secondly, everyone’s exams finished at different times therefore all of my companions would leave to return home or continue travelling at separate points throughout the month so I often wasn’t able to have a proper goodbye with many of them. Thirdly, being in a tropical place on the opposite side of the planet from my family for Thanksgiving (since I’m american) and Christmas (which is normally very white where I’m from) was really rough.

Santa Convention: Hong Kong

Continue reading “Christmas in the Tropics and Post-Abroad Wanderlust”

Vietnam: Abundance of fake Nikes, tropical fruits, and kind souls

Elena Thomas: Chinese University of Hong Kong

Upon our evening arrival to Hanoi, we immediately scouted out a well regarded hub for local fare. The streets were a frenzy of mopeds and open air commerce. Women balanced alluring displays of tropical fruits on large table like contraptions strapped around their hips. Dimly lit streets were lined with seemingly endless copy sneakers of the predominantly nike genre. We had an absolute feast of astoundingly economical dishes from crab to snail to blended tropical fruit beverages in gaudy glasses. On initial review of the couple million we had racked up, I had a brief panic before coming to the realisation that £1 equaled 31,694.36 Vietnamese Dong.

Continue reading “Vietnam: Abundance of fake Nikes, tropical fruits, and kind souls”

Academic differences in Hong Kong

By Keir Burbidge, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong


I don’t think I expected studying here in Hong Kong to be so different to being in the UK. The first major difference is that I’m doing 5 units here which take up 15 hours a week here compared to 3 units and 9 hours back home… and if anybody tells you that the courses are easier here then they are either lying or on a pass/fail year!  Continue reading “Academic differences in Hong Kong”

First Few Weeks in Hong Kong – Initial Reflections

Anthony Bladen – The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Victoria Harbour
Victoria Harbour from Kowloon

I have been at CUHK for almost three weeks now and while everyone at Manchester has just finished exam season, here at CUHK we only have one more week of classes until the Chinese New Year break – meaning I have a lot to talk about!

Room View
Room View

Continue reading “First Few Weeks in Hong Kong – Initial Reflections”

Hong Kong Arrival: Whole Roasted Pigeon served next to Pizza Express

Elena Thomas: The Chinese University of Hong Kong


Total travel time: 27 hours

Total non sleep time: 36 hours

Embarking on the longest travel duration period of my life, I couldn’t help but gaze in awe at every occurrence around me. Arriving in Toronto and strutting to my gate for the over sixteen hour flight to Hong Kong to come, I was taken back by the mob of non-westerners. This was perhaps the first time in my life i’ve experienced being a total ethnic minority. It was strangely exhilarating. I was placed in the last row of the entire plane next to an elderly Hong Kong woman who spoke absolutely no english. I would smile graciously at her when she would hand my trash to the attendant or stand up for me to use the washroom. After an exhausting and seemingly endless journey I was almost sad to see her walk away towards the local customs line after our time together. Me helping her open her bottle of juice…her putting the blanket on my shoulder when it fell off…her humorously demonstrating the method in which to slurp my cup of noodles like a local (yes that was the in flight dinner…). She felt like a friend on my un accompanied journey. 


Arrival Impressions:

The first few run-ins with my roommate were less than ideal. Upon our first encounter she stated that she was “allergic” to air conditioning, an incredibly painful statement to hear for a girl who in Manchester sleeps all winter long with the window open and nothing but a sheet at night. The heat and humidity have been quite a struggle. The first few days here my body seemed to be in physical shock. I would get out of the cold shower and go outside to instantly sprout droplets of sweat on my upper lip. The people of Hong Kong are somewhat obsessed with air conditioning. During the initial arrival briefings I would find myself experiencing flu like symptoms due to the extreme climate changes from indoors to outdoors. Luckily, my body has seemed to come around or perhaps the humidity has lessened slightly as these symptoms seem much less severe now.


Hong Kong has proven itself to withhold infinite surprises. Never before my arrival was I fully able to grasp the concept of how many green-spaces Hong Kong processes outside the towering buildings in the city centre. Outside the inner city, Hong Kong is home to nearly fifty sandy beaches often nestled between its one hundred and thirty mountains and elevated land masses.  On top of the hiking and sun bathing opportunities, Hong Kong also includes 262 islands within its boundaries. Yes, that’s right. The island hopping prospects are alive and well. I’ve been told by multiple sources that renting a so called “junk boat” for the day with a large group of friends and visiting the various small islands is one of the absolute best things to do in the city. I will be partaking in such this coming Friday.


The city itself seems so vast and infinite yet so small. The amount of times i’ve unexpectedly bumped into someone I know from uni or elsewhere whilst paroling the city is astonishing. The amount of things to do is so endless yet I never feel like i’m too far from home or lost in a sea of humans. This is particularly intriguing from an urban planning point of view. It’s fascinating how they’ve organised and routed the city and public transportation links in such a manner than you’re never really in an overwhelming mob. Things seem to flow fluidly. The amount of cultural influences here is so extensive. I think i’ve seen more american/european stores here than in the actual locations themselves. A Zara will be placed next to an extremely local food stand selling snake soup and whole roasted pigeon. This is idyllic because you’re in the mecca of local cuisine and new things to try but when you’re feeling homesick you can always go to Marks and Spencer and get your favourite elderflower cordial and salmon bagel.



In many of my classes I am the only exchange student. Initially I thought this to be somewhat unfortunate but it has proven to be quite the opposite. I’ve only had a small amount of classes thus far but find that if I place myself in proximity to a local student, the likelihood of them responding with a smile and string of questions is very high. A Korean student in many of my classes is one of the friendliest people i’ve ever met. He lights up when I see him in the morning and is more than willing to inform me about the happenings in Hong Kong and on campus. I think it’s also better for my concentration in class which is absolutely fundamental given the outside activities/distractions in my life here. Unlike in Manchester where classes are often 100% lecture and exam based, my Hong Kong classes are much more about attendance, engagement, interactive projects, and presentations. I’m taking an Urban Design and Place Making class taught by a German professor which is nearly entirely based off of a project to redesign a public space in the city. I’m extremely excited about such a hands on, real life concept. The work his class has done in the city is truly remarkable…check it out at http://magiccarpet.hk/


Mental State:

Never before in my life have I felt so constantly excited about my surroundings and prospects for new experiences. It’s often difficult to sleep at night because i’m scheming all of the things I want to do and places I want to go. I know for a fact that this semester is going to go by like the blink of an eye and I must pause to savour every minute of it that I possibly can! The amount of people who have reached out to me out of nowhere on social media enquiring about my presence here has shocked me. Suddenly people I haven’t spoken to since I was twelve are messaging me with connections and recommendations for Hong Kong. It’s mind boggling how small the world is these days. I also think that my passion for new experiences is growing every day. I have recently consumed frog eggs through and straw to find that they are actually quite delicious. There’s no going back from here on out…