It’s been weeks since I came back from Hong Kong, but my head still swims from all the experiences and adventures I had while I was there. Not only did I learn so much in all of my courses, but I also gained firsthand exposure into the cultures and the people of this region. Where would I even begin to describe my semester abroad?
When it comes to traveling abroad, the first thing that comes to mind is the food. There was just so many types of food to enjoy, from the street markets that sold siu mai on sticks to the sit-down dim sum restaurants! No place in America could even compare to a traditional, family-style dim sum restaurant, where you wash your own bowls and cutlery as per tradition and order dishes together to enjoy as one. It doesn’t even stop there; from Hong Kong, I was able to travel to many other countries in Asia, each with its own unique backgrounds and things to enjoy. Many weekends were spent traveling, visiting other cultures, and learning more and more about this great continent. Thailand, Taiwan, China, Macau… Those don’t even begin to cover what countries I was able to visit, or what I was able to learn from those travels. Take advantage of cheap air fares, you definitely won’t regret it! Then there were the festivals. Lantern festivals, the Lunar New Year fireworks, light shows, there was just always something going on nearby, ready for me to be immersed in. Even without traveling to other countries, there was plenty for me to do.
In terms of business, there is a definite distinction between employee and manager. Hierarchy is important, as Hong Kong is a country rooted in collectivistic culture, much like the rest of Asia. Even with the Western influence of being a British colony in its past, Hong Kong still heavily draws towards its Asian roots in that aspect. Contrasting greatly with American individualistic culture, where it’s “every man for himself” and people are encouraged to think as individuals, Hong Kong prides itself on thinking for the greater of the group and having people with the mentality of family values and staying together.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is a school notorious for hard classes and hours of studying, even being dubbed by its students as the “Hong Kong University of Stress and Tension” due to this fact. This was very evident, as there were never any tables open in the library due to students studying every night. Courses here were graded on a curve based on how everyone in the class had done, which I thought was interesting since courses at A&M are normally clear-cut on how the grading is and what grades can be expected for certain points. Nonetheless, the professors were top-notch and very knowledgeable in their subjects; one of my professors even translated parts of his lecture into Mandarin and Cantonese if he wanted to express an important point!
Overall, my experience studying abroad exceeded my expectations, not only in my studies, but also in my learning outside of my coursework. I was able to meet so many new people and see so many new things. As the protests in Hong Kong continue over the integration of this region into mainland China, I only hope that my friends at HKUST are safe and that Hong Kong continues to be the magnificent territory that it was for me.