In the Eyes of Exchange Students

Reflections on Hong Kong

A sharing by Mr Patrick Thomas IDDISON, an exchange student from Durham University, UK in the academic year 2015–16.

Living in Hong Kong has been an experience unlike any other, in one of the most fast-paced cities on earth. I knew when I chose to study abroad that I wanted to step up from the small town of my home university, and HK was my first choice. It has not been without difficulties, mainly the language barrier, but trying to overcome these challenges has been part of the enjoyment of my new home.

The most unforgettable parts of HK for me have to be the food, the landscape and the weather. Each of these is so unique to this wonderful place, and they underpin so much of the difference between here and the UK. Even in 30 plus degree heat and high humidity, I was safe in the knowledge that rain would soon follow and provide some relief. The contrast between HK's world famous architecture and its untouched nature have inspired me to spend more time taking photos, and I spent many care-free afternoons exploring HK with my camera.

At CUHK, the surroundings are much greener than those on Hong Kong Island but the pace is still fast and the energy is high, as seen in the enthusiasm for 'dem beat' and the motivation to succeed. It has been an inspiring place to study, and I have had the opportunity to learn from professors and students, expanding my understanding of Economics more widely than I could have at home. In trying to learn Cantonese I learnt a great deal about patience and perseverance as it was far more difficult than any language I have ever studied before. But the rewards were high and I felt a sense of achievement when I was able to use what I learnt in cha chaan tengs and in conversation with people I met, as well as to gain more of an understanding of the rich and vibrant culture of HK. I know there is so much more to learn about, and it is the history and culture which help make HK such an interesting and enjoyable place to live and study in.

While studying brought with it knowledge and inspiration, it also came with a great deal of stress, particularly in the second half of both semesters as midterms, papers, quizzes and revision began to stack up. Taking a day off was not an option if I wanted to keep on top of my workload. But I was fortunate to be able to find relaxation and a change of scenery by joining sports teams at CWC. Taking part in the inter-collegiate rowing competition has to be a highlight for me as the efforts of months of hard work paid off, and we saw the results that came from perseverance and grit.

To students coming to HK for the first time, I am jealous that you will get to experience seeing the sights here for the first time. When I first stepped out from the MTR station into Mong Kok, I was amazed by the lights and the food and the sounds, I will never forget that feeling of awe and wonder. HK is truly a wonderful city but also one that you can keep exploring. One must visit famous tourist spots (the view from The Peak and Avenue of Stars are hard to put into words), but please don't be afraid to take the MTR somewhere random and walk around. You are sure to experience something new.

Living in HK for a year has been one of the most challenging but enjoyable times of my life so far. Some days I really missed the familiarity of home and my two younger brothers; most of the days I felt like I was living in the best place on earth. I will never forget the friends I have made here and the times we spent together. Without you it would have been a lonely time, so I am grateful. Your presence has not just made this a fun year for me, but a life-changing one.

Vibrancy in CWC

A sharing by Mr Alexander WALSTERN, an exchange student from Sweden in Term 2, 2015–16.

I came from Karlstad University, Sweden. In January 2016, I arrived at Hong Kong for a one-term exchange programme. During my stay, I experienced a lot of things and one of the coldest days in Hong Kong in 40 years! I had never lived with a roommate before, so I was a little worried at first, but I got used to that in just a few weeks. Hong Kong is very different from Sweden, with a much faster pace of life, but I really appreciate the way people live here.

The staff members at CWC are always nice and helpful, and are willing to answer any of my questions or concerns. At the beginning, I had difficulties ordering food at the canteen, but very soon the canteen staff recognised me and they had learnt what I usually get for breakfast, so I didn't have to make the order again before food was ready.

Life at CWC was very exciting as they organised many cultural activities. I remember there was at least one activity every week, and I had lots of fun making new friends and learning about different subjects at these events. There was a Greek Mythology Workshop, and the professor was very passionate in teaching stories of the gods and goddesses. He even gave me a set of notes that introduces myths in my own culture, which was really a pleasant surprise! I also joined a Seal Engraving Workshop, a Workshop on Dining Etiquette, and an International Dessert Party, which were all very fun events. This year also marked the graduation for many of the first cohort of students admitted to CWC, and I was lucky enough to be able to join their Photo Day, a celebration event where graduates and friends took photos together for a whole afternoon.

Joining High Table Dinners at CWC was a completely new experience for me. I had the chance to sit with students I didn't know before, and I found it a very nice way to make new friends. The setup of the dining hall was impressive, with candles and students all dressed in their College gowns — sometimes I thought I was in a Harry Porter movie!

Apart from CWC, I was also lucky to have experienced the local way of life. My roommate, Andrew, once invited me and two other exchange students to his home for a dinner with his parents. Another local student invited some of us to join a barbeque night at his place. They were all really nice and friendly to us. I enjoyed the Chinese New Year and the way people celebrate it, which is similar to how we celebrate Christmas in Sweden, when all family members gather and have good food. I have made many friends here and had many great moments.

Patrick (front row in blue) at Avenue of Stars
Patrick (front row in blue) at Avenue of Stars
Patrick (left 5) joins the CWC Men’s Rowing Team
Patrick (left 5) joins the CWC Men’s Rowing Team
Patrick (right 2) visits Mong Kok with family
Patrick (right 2) visits Mong Kok with family
Alexander (left) shares the joy of graduates on Photo Day
Alexander (left) shares the joy of graduates on Photo Day
Alexander (left) at High Table Dinner
Alexander (left) at High Table Dinner
Alexander (right) writes Fai Chun to celebrate Chinese New Year
Alexander (right) writes Fai Chun to celebrate Chinese New Year

Back To This Issue
From the Editor
Master-designate Appointed
Donations (10 May 2016 – 30 Jun 2016)
Personalia (May – Jul 2016)
Farewell Party for the First Graduating Class
Miss Carissa Ma Wins Cultus et Beneficentia Award 2016
Cultural and Language Study Tour to Beijing
In the Eyes of Exchange Students
From Japan: My Life at CW Chu College
CWC Students Share Overseas Exchange Experience
From Kyrgyzstan to Hong Kong
Alumni Club
The Student Honour Code Committee
College Internship Scheme 2016
High Table Dinner and Dinner Events
College Activities
Hostel Events and Initiatives
Next Issue

Past Issue