Now that my first semester is over and my second semester in Hong Kong is fast approaching (in 2 days actually), I just wanted to reflect on my first semester and come up with goals for next semester.

I never realized how much of an impact an experience can I have on you until this semester at the University of Hong Kong. Studying abroad has always been a goal of mine, and this experience was more than I could have ever imagined. From experiencing a totally new culture and language to traveling with people from around the world, I have done things I never thought I would have experienced. However, my semester here was not all rainbows and sunshine as I did face quite a few challenges along the way.

The first few weeks

The first few weeks in Hong Kong were definitely the hardest time. There were many days where I felt homesick and alone in my room. I didn’t know anyone prior to coming to Hong Kong, so during the first few days, I had to explore a new country by myself which made me felt very lonely and isolated. However, it was not until after orientation that I started to meet new people.

Furthermore, there was an student-run organization called International Society that hosted events for exchange students to get to know each other. I enrolled in almost a lot of events such as a hiking event and dim sum adventure, and these events were where I met some of my closest friends in Hong Kong.

Besides feeling alone at times, the academic life here is quite difficult as well. I remember reading the UCEAP student reviews of HKU before coming, and most of them said that the coursework at HKU is a lot harder than at their home university. I definitely realized why that is the case now because classes here definitely require a lot of readings, assignments, presentations, and group projects, and on top of that, the grading criteria is quite tough as well. I remember getting an assignment back for a midterm paper, and I got a 66/100. My heart definitely shattered as I never had gotten that low of score before. I told my roommate, who is a local Hong Kong student, about how I felt, and he told me that getting that score is quite normal around here as HKU is known for its harsh academic life especially the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Goals for next semester

For the upcoming semester, I am planning on taking a Introduction to Cantonese course and am hoping to learn basic Cantonese by the end of the semester. I also want to continue to meet new people from different countries because I believe that the people you surround yourself with truly makes your experience even more magical.

Lastly, I want to continue to travel to different countries and experience what the world has to offer. Like Saint Augustine said, “the world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”. For me, being in Hong Kong and having the opportunity to travel to nearby countries have been the most life-changing experience in my life.