Longest time I’ve been away home, but I got some of the best memories in my life. Even though I was the only one among my friends to go on exchange in Fall, I was pretty excited. Looking back, this probably made me outgoing and to try more new things than before. Making friends was perhaps the first challenge I faced during my exchange.
Overall, I love my exchange experience and already miss it a lot. In terms of study, each course usually has only one lecture with a duration of one hour each week. This provided me with more free time for me to. One thing quite special is that there is something called online learning. I study all by myself with some online resources. To be honest, I prefer face-to-face teaching from professors which seems more interesting. As all the courses I took were discovery module, i.e., similar to what we called common core and are easier, less time was needed for revision. Still, time management was relatively important. ‘Play hard, work hard’ was a vital motto during my exchange.
And now it’s time to share the exciting and chilling part of my exchange. So literally my exchange life could be divided into two parts: hanging out with friends and travelling. What I really like about my University is that all the societies have some taster sessions, ‘Give it a go (GIAG)’ for free or only small amount required. I can try new things, and at the same time meeting people sharing the same interest. I joined many, such as light painting, volleyball, Japanese and many more. It was such a great fun.
Travelling-wise, I actually travelled less than I planned before I left Hong Kong. The reason is I engaged more in activities held by the societies as well as hanging out with friends in Leeds which is where I exchanged to. Nonetheless, I travelled quite a lot, to nine countries outside the UK. Sometimes I travelled alone, while for some I travelled with my friends. It was so different, alone and with friends. But I learnt a lot from both. Planning for a trip is hard. I felt like I am more independent now. I had to rely on myself most of the time. I remembered once I missed my crossborder bus due to wrong time calculation. I was panicked, but in the end had to solve the problem as I was travelling alone at that time.
Talking about life experience, since the UK is so different compared with Hong Kong, I experienced huge cultural shock. This is when I realize the world is much bigger than I thought. Culture is really distinct between countries, so making friends from around the world allows me to learn a lot. I think making international friends is no doubt one of the most rewarding things throughout my entire journey. We share about our own culture and learn from each other. Locals are harder to be friends with, as they have their own social network and somewhat less eager to step out. I was lucky to know and became friends with some.
General Exchange Info:
1) Visa Procedures: I held a HKSAR passport, and there is no need to apply for tier 4 visa for less than six months. I was only required to bring along my admission letter and address confirmation letter, and answer some questions from immigration officer when entering the UK. But have to check that the short-term visa stamp is stamped on the passport.
2) Orientation Activities: Upon arrival, a booklet will be given to us. All the information I need to know is inside. There will be counters set up at the Michael Sadler Buildings where students can ask questions. Some orientation activities were school-based.
3) International Services & Activities: I can request for pickup service by the welcoming team at the airport/train station but I didn’t do so. They would then call a taxi for students.
4) Accommodation: Either catered or self-catered. I chose self-catered, and needed to buy all the cooking stuff. For catered housing, students will be given a card with certain amount of money daily. Bad thing is: the balance will be removed each day. I lived in Montague Burton. Each flat is shared between 5 students with single room for each. There is a common room which is relatively small compared with other accommodations. In Montague, there are BBQ site and laundry areas.
5) Course Registration: Go to the school website. Send email for adding or dropping modules instead of online platform if you are not satisfied with pre-registered modules. I am not sure if there is a specific add-drop period. Upon request, I had a friend who has been enrolled into a course in the middle of the semester.
6) Teaching & Assessment Methods: Lectures and seminars. Assessments are different according to courses.
7) Finance & Banking: Pounds. I chose to open an account at Barclays. Good things: no charges, can open account even if you are staying only for one semester. I brought some pounds and a draft with me to the UK. I used the pounds I brought before opening the account. Afterwards, I saved my draft into the account.
8) Climate: Much much colder than Hong Kong. Dry.
9) Food: Large supermarket for cooking myself, Morrisons. Tesco also available, which is near the University. The Refectory is the school canteen, or I could choose have sandwiches which is opposite of University.
10) Transportation: Walk is the best way in Leeds. The University is just 15 to 20-minute walk from city centre. Bus is another option, but it costs you 1 pound(=10 hkd) each way.
11) Communication: Proud to say, I didn’t buy any sim card. I purely survived by WIFI. WIFI is provided in the university like HKUST. There is no WIFI on the street, but you can get WIFI in most restaurants and shopping malls.
12) Sports & Recreation Facilities: The Edge. Really nice gymnasium. Sports classes, such as climbing, yoga, etc. Swimming pool. Free access in non-busy hours. You can upgrade the membership to gain unlimited access.
14) Social Clubs & Networking Opportunities: Mentioned above. Best to explore yourself. All the information will be included in those booklets given to us in the first week.
by Chi Sum Lee – Hong Kong University of Science and Technology – Hong Kong