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”

Where has the year gone?!

By Alex Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

“Hong Kong is a city of paradoxes, where bamboo coexists with concrete, and temples are neighbours with Gucci” – Hong Kong Coconuts.

I read an article about a foreign photographer, Kyra Campbell who really captures the true essence of Hong Kong. The article has already initiated my reminiscence of Hong Kong, and I haven’t even left yet! I really will miss the diversity of this culture. Superimposing the ‘old’ and ‘new’ juxtaposed features of Hong Kong together in one photo is really representative of life here. Below is one of my favourite photographs of hers, merging skyscrapers with dried fish – a Hong Kong favourite.

https://www.facebook.com/kyra.campbell.photography/photos/pb.355840581247937.-2207520000.1428839958./430982560400405/?type=3&theater
Kyra Campbell

https://www.facebook.com/kyra.campbell.photography/photos/pb.355840581247937.-2207520000.1428839958./430982560400405/?type=3&theater

With the semester rapidly drawing to a close, I am becoming increasing saddened that I have a mere few weeks left in HK. This has been such a life-changing experience and I already know that it has moulded me as a person in many ways; I feel I am far more self-motivated and sufficient. I am ensuring that I cram as much as I can into the next few weeks to complete my Hong Kong bucket list alongside working toward my final exams and deadlines.

Since I last posted I took a weekend trip to Taiwan, which was just beautiful and was a well-needed study break! A strange mix of Chinese, Japanese and Aboriginal cultures make up Taiwan based upon its rocky history. There was so much to pack in here, we definitely needed more time to see Taiwan in all its glory, but whilst there we went to hot springs, temples, mountains, night markets and tea plantations to name a few. I really want to head back to Taiwan at some point!

Taiwanna go back!
Taiwanna go back!
Elephant Mountain
Elephant Mountain
Juifen
Juifen

Last week I had the pleasure of having my mum and little brother visit me for a week, and have loved being able to show them a little snippet of what my life has been like for the past eight months. Like me, this was their first time in Asia, so they were really dazzled by what Hong Kong has to offer. Hikes, temples, islands, introducing them to my friends and Asian cuisines were some things we got up to. I’m so glad they were able to visit me, and it really has completed my Asian adventure! I now have a busy week of exams and deadlines to get through before the final exam period and before I am able to travel a little around Asia before returning back to reality in the UK. Hong Kong, it really has been a blast!

Lion Rock Hike with the family
Lion Rock Hike with the family
Cheung Chau Island
Cheung Chau Island
Yesterday's Boat Party
Yesterday’s Boat Party

Chinese New Year – Gong Hey Fat Choy!

By Alexandra Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

I cannot believe that February is drawing to a close, now the Chinese New Year festivities are over and mid-terms are around the corner, I need to get my head down (I’m writing this post first though, as it’s much more fun!).

Spending Chinese New Year in Hong Kong has been amazing; many exchange students took the week off as an opportunity to travel. I was intending to travel to Borneo, but had so many issues with booking flights that I couldn’t go. This has been somewhat a blessing in disguise as I’ve been able to experience the CNY festivities in Hong Kong, meet a bunch of new people and had some spare time to catch up on school work and apply for internships (I’m desperate to prolong my time here!).

The festivities for Chinese New Year last well over a week. In the lead up to New Year, locals head to flower markets which are teeming with beautiful flowers; namely orchids, blossom trees, lilies and this tree with odd looking oranges on it. Other merchandise is also sold here; in amongst the busy crowd, toy sheep are shoved in your face by sellers, “Missy Missy, sheep also comes in pink!”, and there are other beautiful traditional gifts. I bought a lovely hand-made wind chime from the loveliest elderly ladies.

Orchids on Orchids
Orchids on orchids
Orange, Lemon, Peach, Apricot?
Orange, lemon, peach, apricot
You want a pink one, Missy?

The main Chinese New Year celebrations take place during the first three days of the lunar New Year. On the first day there was a fabulous parade in the evening with Chinese dragons, big floats, the biggest sheep you’ve ever seen and dancers from around the world. The second day consisted of a huge spectacular fireworks show, and on the third day there was a full day of horse racing at the famous Sha Tin racecourse.

All of which were so great – the atmosphere at each of these events was just unbeatable. Chinese New Year is the biggest and most celebrated festival in Hong Kong, and there are still other New Year traditions I wish to partake in before they’re over. I particularly want to visit a ‘Wishing Tree’ in the New Territories, which is an age-old tradition here in Hong Kong. Locals write their wishes down and tie them to traditional fruits then throw them onto the lucky tree in hope that they come true. The faith and religious nature of Asia is so lovely; if wishes come true I believe they return to where they made the wish to give thanks to the gods for granting it.

New Year Parade
New Year parade
Just a little sheep
Just a little sheep
Gong Hey Fat Choy!
Gong Hey Fat Choy!

It is year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram this year – the Chinese don’t seem to be quite sure which animal it is. “Gong Hey Fat Choy!” is how you wish people a Happy Lunar New Year in Cantonese, but it translates as wishing you happiness and good fortune.

Bring on Semester Two

By Alexandra Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

I cannot believe that I am now halfway through my study abroad experience in Hong Kong, which is constantly shaping up to be the best year of my life. Semester two commenced a few days ago so I’ve been settling back into the Asian lifestyle after spending the past few weeks back in the UK over the Christmas period.

I am excited to be back in Hong Kong to continue to explore and immerse myself in this vibrant, colourful city and to complete my bucket list. Although it has been somewhat bittersweet returning as the majority of exchange students were only here for a semester, so it is odd not having the same friends surrounding you but is also exciting to meet a whole new bunch of exchanges!

Spending Christmas back in the UK was lovely as, for me, I wouldn’t have been able to hack the full year here without seeing my family and friends and having a good old roast! However, many of my friends who are also on a year exchange did not go back home and took the time to continue travelling; some changed flights to do so whilst others still returned home, so it really does depend on how you feel as the semester progresses. I would make sure that you book flights either with British Airways as they always charge a £100 fee to change flights, or STA where you can buy a flexi-ticket for around £80 I believe; I booked through Travel Trolley and it would have cost me over double to reschedule. I would have also loved to travel but my bank balance would not have thanked me, so I have been awaiting my next loan instalment, true student style.

During semester one I travelled to the Philippines and Japan which was truly amazing. I will never get tired of Asian cultures – I find every aspect so refreshing and interesting. Studying abroad has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for travel which I have not been able to experience before and can’t wait to continue experiencing. Regular national holidays and professors’ accommodating natures allows you to easily hop on a short plane journey to fulfil your travelling needs!  With Chinese New Year being just over a month away and having a whole week off university, I hope to take my itchy feet to China (and maybe put my Mandarin into practice).
Below are a few photos of my travels to the Philippines and Japan, including a video of Japan.

Reflecting upon my first semester at PolyU in Hong Kong, for the second chapter of my Asian adventure I hope to continue to promote Manchester and the study abroad scheme, meet more people from around the world and continue to enjoy studying at this renowned fashion University.

Puerto Galera, Philippines
Puerto Galera, Philippines
Parasailing, Philippines
Parasailing, Philippines
Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan
Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan
Robot Show, Shinjuku, Japan
Robot Show, Shinjuku, Japan
Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan
Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Academic Differences – UK to HK

By Alexandra Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

  • SUBJECT CHOICES
    Despite choosing and finalising subjects before arriving in Hong Kong by utilising the online subject choice information for PolyU, which was both informative and useful, I still ended up changing a few modules in the Add/Drop period. Unlike Manchester, you can choose any subjects from an inbound exchange list and change your subjects in the Add/Drop period, which is the first two weeks of the semester. I attended my scheduled classes and additional subjects that I thought I might be interested in, in case I did not like or find the modules I had already chosen to be suitable. I would recommend doing so because I rearranged as I ended up changing some modules because they turned out to be quite different to what I was expecting, so I selected more appropriate classes. I also rearranged my timetable so that I had Friday as my day off so I have the freedom to take weekend trips away. At PolyU I take five subjects as opposed to three in Manchester. Five subjects is the recommended credit weighting for PolyU, which means a more packed weekly schedule than Manchester.
  • RESOURCES
    PolyU use Blackboard like Manchester, so you can access lecture slides and view grades and so on. PolyU connect is a separate website, similar to MyManchester, which is home to other resources like library information, exam timetables etc. Unlike Manchester, some lecturers print out handouts of the lecture slides for students.
  • PROFESSORS
    Before arriving, I was advised to address lecturers by their formal name i.e. Dr. or Professor, however all of my lecturers prefer to be addressed by their first name. I suggest to address the lecturers by how they introduce themselves.
  • ASSESSMENT WEIGHTING
    Assessment weighting varies with subject choices: most are 100% coursework based or 50% exam, 50% coursework for Fashion subjects. The Textiles co-ordinator here advised the exchange students to take 100% coursework modules so we can make the most of travelling whilst here once the semester ends, however I have two modules that have end of semester exams which finish early on in the exam period so I still have time to travel, so don’t let the fact that a module has an exam weighting deter you from choosing it.
    In addition to this, most exchange students are graded on a Pass/Fail basis, but for Materials students our year abroad is graded and counts towards our final grade.
  • WORKLOAD
    Due to the fact that I take five modules here, I find that I have a larger workload compared to at Manchester. Although there are many more assignments, they are smaller projects, with less weighting towards your final grade compared to Manchesters’ usual few but weighty essays and end of semester exam in the Materials department. Most of my group presentations, reports and midterms count for only 10-20% of my final grade. Therefore, to keep on top of my work I quite often utilise my time in between classes to keep on top of assignments.
  • ASSESSMENTS
    Unlike what I am used to in the Textiles department at Manchester, there are midterm exams and a big focus on group assignments here. For each assignment you need to submit a hard copy and a CD copy, I have not yet handed in assignments through Blackboard so assume this is not utilised at PolyU. The majority of my assessments so far at PolyU have been group presentations and reports which I am not used to as I find there is a heightened focus on individual work at Manchester. It is not difficult to communicate and work with the local students at all, I find the group work enjoyable and worthwhile, however, often groups are large and are sometimes impossible to co-ordinate.
  • EXTENDED LEARNING
    Similarly to Manchester, there are field trip opportunities and careers talks that you can attend to which you sign up for online or in person. Factory visits to China are also usually organised here, however, the University have been denied this year as the factories haven’t the time which is disappointing, but there are many other great resources here in Hong Kong to learn from first hand.
    I have chosen to study Mandarin as one of my modules whilst here which I would really recommend as I’m thoroughly enjoying it and it is acknowledged on your academic transcript when you graduate.
  • GRADING
    You can find PolyU’s grading system on their Inbound Exchange FAQ page here, but they only grade in terms of A, B, C etc. and on an unfamiliar scale of 0 to 4.5.  I am not entirely sure how to translate these marks into percentages, however one of my local friends has told me that 80% or above is roughly a B to A grade, so this would equate to a first or high 2:1 at Manchester. It is difficult to say specifically how the grades translate to the UK, especially as for each assignment results are usually curved/changed in comparison to the standard of work produced. A C grade is a pass here, which I think is roughly 60%, so overall the percentages you should expect to get are roughly 20% higher than what you would receive in Manchester.

Settling into life in HK

By Alexandra Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

So Hong Kong has been my new home for two weeks already, I have no idea where the time’s gone!

It feels like so long since my departure from the UK and I’m surprised at how easily I’ve settled in and how welcoming the country is as a whole. There is perfect marriage of East-meets-West here which I think has made the transition of moving here so easy! I really cannot stress enough how amazing and intriguing I am finding Hong Kong is, I absolutely love it and can’t wait to really start immersing myself in the culture. The locals are super friendly and really go out of their way to help you with directions and generally show you how things are done over here; I thought there would be more of a language barrier but there really isn’t!

Upon my arrival in HK late at night, I took a taxi to halls which I was slightly worried about as the taxi driver didn’t speak much English, but luckily I had screen-shotted the address in Cantonese on my phone. PolyU has a buddy scheme where exchange students are paired with a local student to help them with settling in and getting to know Hong Kong, so many exchange students’ buddies met them at the airport to help them navigate to the university halls, which is so helpful. My buddy was travelling around Europe when I arrived but I have met him since and he has been such a help and opened my eyes to many aspects of Hong Kong that I would not have otherwise discovered.

Over the first few days in Hong Kong, I spent time getting to know other students, the university campus and sorting out the bare essentials for setting up my new life here. On the first day, a few local students gave myself and other exchange students a mini tour of campus and took us to Ikea so we could make our rooms a little more homely!

In terms of travel, an Octopus card is used to get around Hong Kong by all means of transport (MTR, trains, trams, buses) and also at supermarkets, to top up your phone bills, print work at uni, you name it! (Take note the rest of the world!) You can pick up an Octopus card from any MTR station and then apply for a student one with half price rates which takes about 2 weeks to process. Phone-wise, I got a SIM from China Mobile which is on a really good plan. I paid 80 HK dollars initially and then my pay as you go plan costs me 30 HK dollars every 10 days (about £2.50) which gives me unlimited calls and texts to Hong Kong numbers and unlimited 3G which is so handy with group messaging and organising events. I have decided not to get a bank account here as my cashcard works well and a previous student told me that she never used the Hong Kong bank account that she opened but if you decide you want to open one there is a bank on campus.

The university could not have been more helpful so far with orientation processes, adding and dropping subjects, setting up events and so on, I doubt you will experience any trouble with academic issues as the university is so informative and the International Affairs Office is so friendly and accessible. I cannot stress enough how much I would encourage students to take the study abroad experience as it is quickly becoming the best decision I have ever made!

My Hong Kong bucket list is also taking shape! I’ve ticked off meeting people from around the world, making an incense wish at a temple and getting my fortune told. Learning Mandarin is also in progress. I’ve attached a few pictures of what I’ve been up to so far, I am surprised at how much exploring I’ve managed to fit in already amongst attending uni, but I can’t wait to continue exploring Hong Kong and experiencing everything it has to offer!

If you have any questions about Hong Kong or PolyU don’t hesitate to contact me on alexandra.ure@student.manchester.ac.uk.

harbour and shipharbour at night

The Harbour Day and Night

harbour groupthe harbour

Harbour at Night

wong tai sinflower market

Wong Tai Sin Temple and Flower Market

harbourthe harbour daytime

The Harbour and Avenue of Stars

repulse bay

St Stephen’s Beach

laantern festivallantern fe

Yesterday’s Mid-Autumn Festival / Lantern Festival

Shek O Beachshek o

 

Shek O Beach

Ni Hao Hong Kong!

By Alexandra Ure (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong)

After a jam-packed summer of catching up with family and friends, holidays, interning and celebrating my birthday on Friday, I am finally about to commence my study abroad year in Hong Kong. Tomorrow I embark on a gruelling 20-hour journey to Hong Kong with a stop-over in Doha; this was my cheapest flight option but you can fly direct for around £100 more if you’re not the best flyer!

I am in disbelief that this is actually happening and at how fast time has passed since handing in my very first Worldwide Exchange applications; it feels so surreal that I will be halfway across the world in 48 hours! I am so excited to start this once in a lifetime opportunity and can’t wait to fall in love with Hong Kong!

Pre-departurewise, I have had no trouble with communicating with the host university (although I was worried about my Visa which only arrived two weeks ago!). Amongst other minor pre-departure related necessities, I have bought a travelcard from STA Travel which cost me £12 and is also an international student identity card, which I thought was handy; you can withdraw money for free with it at any Maestro ATM worldwide. Of course you might find it easier to take cash and set up a bank account in the country you’re travelling to, but I thought this would be worth mentioning as for me, it means one less thing to worry about. Now all I have to do is get a phone and sim when I arrive in Hong Kong (I’ve had a nightmare trying to get my phone unlocked because it’s relatively new).

hong kong bucket list

Here is a little bucket list I’ve put together based upon necessary Google searches of Hong Kong tourist attractions and some personal achievements that I want to accomplish whilst I’m over there. I plan on adding to this list, changing it and ticking things off as I continue to post on the blog. Quite a lot of these are travel-based, which I hope to be able to do alongside or after my studies, but of course I will be focusing on my studies as my study abroad year is graded.

I am ready for and eagerly anticipating everything HK has to throw at me; ups, downs, challenges and opportunities and I very much look forward to sharing it all with the readers of Manchester On The Road!

Alex

POST POLY U!

By Roopa Hathi (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong).

Hey there!

So, it is actually the time that I have finished my studies at PolyU! So so strange that this year has flown by!!

So, firstly I am going to begin with a brief account of what I’ve been up to since my last blog post!

My exams went well, I passed them all which was good! And even passed my Chinese exam – which I am not definitely going to take in final year using the Manchester LEAP program! (Everyone research this if you are keen to carry on your study abroad languages! It’s a program UoM offer to students with free credits, or you can pay to take a 2 semester course in another language! I am doing “Intermediate Chinese” and I will have this on my transcript upon graduation also!)

After completion of exams, I went to Cambodia to volunteer for two weeks. I taught English to primary school children for two weeks, which was an amazing experience! I wasn’t really sure what I should expect, I wanted to do something that I think would be more rewarding by myself! So off I went, for my 5am flight to Phonm Penh and 8 hours later I arrived at my volunteer house.

This was the house that I lived in! ImageImage

I settled in well and have made some of the best friends ever there! Mainly from Australia and Canada and we are already planning to do something similar next year in South America! The teaching part was extremely challenging. I managed to raise over £600 on a GoFundMe page, so I was well prepared to donate and help the children in anyway that I could. The school was ultimately a series of 5 sheds in a big outside area, but the kids were bright and fun – even though many of them were orphans or came from an extremely poor background.

 

 

Image

It was a very heart warming experience to teach these children, but challenging at the same time because none of them spoke proper English so translation was difficult! I played games with them (hangman, wordsearches etc) and seeing their faces light up when they selected the correct answer was great! They would run around in their broken shoes and torn clothes, but still had big smiles and an inspiring keenness to learn and be educated – something which children in the UK rarely have!

Image

 

Image

 

 

 

Image

I had donated money through fixing their plumbing system (so the children could have working toilets!) and buying teaching supplies such as pens and paper etc, but  my last £400 I decided to give to the the family of a boy to pay for his university education.

In Cambodia, the children are entitled to basic education until the age of 17/18 and then they have to pay for university. University on average costs £100 a year, and courses are typically four years long. The boy’s name was Phanna and he was 6 years old; he never took his breaks and instead asked me to play with him. We played simple games such as rolling dice, reading stories, playing  Cambodian card games etc! He always did his homework in breaks and asked me to check it for him (strange for a 6 year old boy right?!?!). I learned that he had lost his parents when he was young and lives with his aunt instead. She already had two children in the school also, so I decided to donate money to his family to pay for his university education! I do hope that this money will actually be used for that, but I hope that his family will use it in a way that is best for him. Here is a picture of me reading with him:

Image

On some afternoons, I also taught university students of 17+. They were sponsored by the Intercontinental Hotel group to get a basic English or Management degree and then they would progress to get jobs in their hotel! These lessons were a lot more structured and I had students who were so keen and happy to be taught English by a native English speaker like myself! At some points it was difficult, even I questioned myself! They would ask simple questions about grammar, or sentence patterns and it is so second nature to me that I found it difficult to explain why. For example, they would ask why “skipping” is not “skiping” and they couldnt understand the concept of a double “p” and kept writing “skiping” – just little things like that that we did when we were young children. Nonetheless, it was very rewarding to be able to see that they have remembered some of the reading and writing skills that I had taught them the previous days!

 

My University Class:

Image

I wish that I had longer than two weeks in Cambodia as I would like to have seen a bigger change in the children that I taught, which would only happen over a longer period of time I guess!

After Cambodia, I began my internship at an amazing company in HK! I am so thankful for this opportunity and it is a good experience to be learning so much, from a global perspective!

In my next blog post (my final HK post!!) I will reflect on the three goals that I set myself before I came to HK! I still have 5 more weeks here, so I will really try to immerse myself in HK, from a non student perspective! 

Speak soon, Roopa 🙂

The struggle of learning Mandarin Chinese…

By Roopa Hathi (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong).

你好很抱歉, 中文有趣

Hello, I am very sorry, I have been very busy! I study Chinese, It is very difficult.. but also very interesting!

So my time at Hong Kong Polytechnic University is shortly coming to an end, and I have absolute no idea how this has gone this fast!

I have been stuck down recently with 3 mid term exams, 3 presentations and 4 reports! And also the focus of my blog entry today- my Level 2 Mandarin Chinese final!

I am sure those of you looking to come to Hong Kong to study, are most likely wanting to learn a bit of Mandarin Chinese? It is an extremely valuable language to understand and know, and I strongly recommend trying to learn it, I have met many working people from top companies in HK, in many different fields; and they have all strongly suggested trying to get a grasp of the language! Not only will it increase your employability a little bit, it will also give you an appreciation for learning a new culture, and to be honest a completely new set of words, meanings and way of speech!

In semester 1, I began “Level 1 Elementary Chinese” and initially I was not prepared at all for how difficult it was going to be! I had prepared myself for learning something like French or Spanish, which most of us have had experience of in secondary school!

So we began with learning the sets of tones, which are as follows:

Tone 1- ā
Tone 2- á
Tone 3- ǎ
Tone 4- à

Next, we learnt what they call “pinyin” which is the language with the English Alphabet, and this combined with the tones on vowels; would be the basis of learning the language!

At first you think, oh this is fine- all i have to remember is some english words and the correct tone mark! However, there is no logical relationship between and english word and its mandarin translation, and no logic behind which tone amounts to which word- and this is the basis of everyones confusion!
If you get the one wrong on a word, it can mean something completely different!
For example “ma” with no tone, is a question word which you would use at the end of a sentence to denote a question; however “mǎ” with the third tone, means “horse”; so you can get an idea of how strange it is to learn! 

Further to this, the next stage of learning Mandarin is the characters. Pinyin was only created in order to ease the process of learning the language, and real Chinese people use characters as their alphabet. I previously mentioned how there is no logic between english and pinyin, but the logic between english, pinyin and characters is completely non existent!  We were briefly introduced to the characters, and I was able to recognise a good 20-50 characters if I really tried hard! But it was completely about recognition rather than fully understanding it!

The first semester consisted of learning fairly basic things about yourself, your home country, your family and friends, and your occupation and after two written exams, two listening and three speaking, I came out with a C+ which I was more than happy with!

Second semester, I was debating whether I should continue learning due to the stress I went through with learning in first semester! But, I decided to accept the challenge, and knew it would be beneficial and somewhat rewarding to feel like I have got to grips with one of the most difficult languages in the world! So I took Level 2 Elementary Chinese- which to no surprise was 10000 X more difficult than level 1!!!

We jumped straight in, no recap of what we learnt the semester before- and my class was full of new incoming exchange students, who had previous experience of learning the language. It is safe to say that I felt like the stupid one from the group- I could just about translate the pinyin, let alone read and translate a whole paragraph of characters! I became extremely worried about my exams, which were entirely in characters! However, the support offered from the teachers and language department is what made me want to continue! They understand how difficult it is for us, and assign is with a “buddy” who you can meet up with, and they will tutor you and answer any questions that you have.

To me this was one of the most significant aids in learning Chinese, as learning from a local person on a more personal one to one level really helps!

The topics covered are much more in depth, from eating and drinking, social activities, dates and years, ordering a taxi, buying a house, numbers up to 1000, animals, illnesses, shopping and going on holiday! So as you can see, quite a big jump from level 1 to level 2! The majority of lessons were entirely in characters- with fears of failing.. I devoted at least 30 mins- 1 hour a day to writing out over and over again until I remembered. I made in total 280 flashcards of sentences, grammar patterns, characters and English meanings!

My final exam went fairly well, with a 1.5 minute talk about a randomly chosen topic, 30 question Q and A, listening, writing and reading exercises, I feel pretty happy with my performance and my understanding for the language!

我要和咖啡- I want to drink coffee!

我的生日是,一九九三年, 六月, 二十八号。 我 有 一个 聚会, 你想不想去?My birthday is on the 28th June, 1993. I am having a party, do you want to come?

现在, 我很好, 可是 我  头疼。 Now, I am feeling very good, but my head hurts!

This has certainly given me a new appreciation and admiration for Chinese students! They manage to learn this language, and sometimes Cantonese also, as well as English and it is admirable that they are able to study in English which is not at all their mother tongue, and I can imagine they find the illogicalness difficult to understand from their end also!

Overall, I am really proud that I will be able to add “Level 2 Chinese” onto my academic transcript, and CV, and be able to talk about it in job interviews! I have also decided to undergo Manchester “LEAP” courses in Mandarin Chinese upon my return to Manchester in final year! Its a program the university runs allowing students to pay, or spend their optional credits on learning a language! Unfortunately, I only just found out about this, but I wish I had known in first year so that I could have begun learning then! But better late than never!!

In a non-educational sense, the social life here is as good as ever! From going out at least twice a week, I have taken trips to Thailand, Penang and Kuala Lumpur so far this year! I am planning two weeks of travelling once my exams are over on the 15th May with a bunch of friends, hoping to do Beijing and some other parts of Mainland China which I am extremely excited to see!! (perhaps I will be able to interact with the locals a little bit!). After this travelling period I will (thankfully!!) be returning back to Hong Kong, because I have managed to secure a summer internship here, wooo!!!

I will be staying until August 15th, with a few friends and family visits, and 21st birthday celebrations, I hope that I have a great summer set out for me!

I hope that this post has helped you to understand the challenges of learning Mandarin Chinese, it is extremely beneficial for employment and I strongly suggest learning it! If you like a challenge, this language is definitely right for you!

Roopa x

Happy Year of the Horse!

By Roopa Hathi (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong).

Hey all,

So sorry for my lack of blog posts recently – I have been caught up in the excitement of returning to Hong Kong after Christmas back at home, and most importantly, with Chinese New Year!

Since the last time I wrote to you, I have been on holiday to Shanghai and Bali, had a few exams and had to say goodbye to all of the great friends I made!  After the most amazing first six months in Hong Kong, and having to say goodbye to some really amazing friends… I am back in Hong Kong for round two – Semester 2! Although I was happily settled, I was not entirely sure what to expect with new inbound exchanges. I felt no fear, but just excitement at the thought of having the opportunity to make new friends all over again and to share some amazing experiences with them in the next few months!

Since being back, I have been caught up in the buzz of Chinese New Year. It was the most amazing and surreal experience to be in Hong Kong for it! I had a whole week full of events, beginning with a trip to the Prince Edward flower markets where locals tend to buy lucky plants and trees, which are a symbol of prosperity for the coming year. Then on to the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree, which is an age-old custom of writing wishes and aspirations onto paper and throwing them into the tree’s branches (I hope my wish comes true!).

The main event was Tsim Sha Tsui’s annual Night Parade, with magnificent floats, hundreds of performers and a general street party to celebrate the year of the horse! There were thousands of people there, so it was very difficult to see the parade – but it was still a great experience!!

Following this was the fireworks display across the harbour, which was undoubtedly the most jaw-dropping firework display that I have ever seen! Check out my pictures below.

Now CNY has passed, we are starting to get serious with work! I hope that I can learn from last semester and the communication difficulties that I had faced and come out with a better approach towards assessments and exams!

Speak soon, Roopa x

ImageImageImageImageImageImage

ImageImageImage

Mid-Terms, Halloween and Diwali in Hong Kong!

By Roopa Hathi (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong).

4 November 2013

Hi all!

I have been in Hong Kong for over two months now, but it literally feels like two weeks- It is all flying by waaaay too fast!

I have settled in really well, everyone is super friendly and I am making new friends everyday!

The past few weeks have been really busy for me, I have had three mid term tests, and multiple deadlines so had been feeling the pressure of studying over here! It is quite difficult to approach and exam here, since I was unsure of what they expect and how they are going to mark- but hopefully they went well.

On a brighter note, I noticed that the people in Hong Kong LOVE Halloween. I live in a student halls building with 21 floors, and at least 250 students on each floor; and each year they all take part in an event called “Haunted Houses”.

In this, each floor creates a haunted house in their common room, and around 10 bedrooms, and there is a competition between each floor of whose Haunted House is the scariest!

To be honest, I was definitely not expecting anything remotely scary, and just thought it was for fun- but how I was wrong!!  They put a huge amount of effort into it, and everyone came together to celebrate Halloween! It was a really fun evening, and being led in the dark by the local students into the haunted houses was definitely an experience I won’t forget! They used a whole range of tools, glow in the dark paints, used themselves as actors, tasks for us to complete before we could move on to the next room and even slides made from bin bags and mattresses; and you didn’t know where you would end up!

I have posted some pictures below of some of the activities and effort that they put into it! It was definitely one of the best Halloweens I have had in my life!

ImageImageImage

This past week has also been Diwali, the Indian festival of light. I am a Hindi and since I was not at home with my family to celebrate;a few friends and I went to a temple to celebrate. Again, I was not expecting the large effort and scale of celebration here. The temple was beautifully lit up, and there was so many people there celebrating! It was a really nice experience to be able to go to a temple in another country, and still know that you are all celebrating the same thing together; even though we are used to completely different environments. I have also posted some pictures below!

Image

Image

ImageImage

Roopa x

Hong Kong Update

By Roopa Hathi (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong).

23rd September

Hey readers!

Hong Kong has been extremely busy and so many things have happened since I have first started!

The city is just amazing and has so much to offer; after being here for almost 4 weeks now, I have learnt that the best way to enjoy my free time is just to get off at a random MTR stop and to lose myself whilst exploring the streets. Around every corner there is something new and exciting!

I have made friends with people from many different countries, from Americans, to Dutch, Germans, Australians and of course the Hong Kong locals in my classes.

It’s a really nice way to learn about new people and different cultures, and even experience new things. Everyday there is something new going on, and you have a chance to meet new people everyday.

It has been extremely interesting getting settled into a new city, and learning a completely new daily routine. Just like when I arrived in Manchester almost three years ago now! I’ve had to find new ways to get groceries, get used to the new transport system, a new climate, and new daily activities to keep me busy!

I am constantly finding new things to do everyday, and have a never-ending to do list. But so far I have been extremely busy! From visiting world famous landmarks, to exploring local cuisines, and diving off of cliffs- there is very few things that I will not try whilst I am here!

Lectures are going well, they are very similar to those in Manchester and all the lectures speak perfect English- so in terms of education it feels exactly the same as Manchester. I have chosen to take two modules of Mandarin Chinese which has been interesting, I am excited to learn the language and can only dream of being able to string a sentence together at the end of this year- I will try my best!

Speak soon! 🙂

SMILING BUDDAH!

IMG_2298

CLIFF DIVING!

Image

Image

LADIES MARKET!

Image