Not all CityU students started their semester as usual. Some spent their summer registering for courses not available in Hong Kong, Google-mapping far off places, doing all the annoying paperwork required to get a visa, and pooling savings to buy flight tickets so that they could take part in a one-semester exchange study abroad.
The following reports provide a glimpse into their experiences.
“The city of Sheffield is more antiquated than I had first imagined. Old steel manufacturing factories crop up on every street, with their distinctive red-brick chimneys looming against the iron-grey sky. People here take a quiet pride in the history of this town, which despite not being expressed in daily conversation, is nonetheless obvious in the slogans that say ‘Made in Sheffield’ on the signboards of corner-shops; and in the museums dedicated to the life of steel-factory workers in the 19th century.
During my first two weeks I joined a local history tour and went on a few hikes to the Peak District. Some were events organised by the Students’ Union and university societies, while some were private events among friends who had got to know each other during orientation week. I was invited along and got to explore the moorlands, which were blooming with pink heather and yellow gorse even as we approach autumn. I was very lucky to have established friendly social ties with fellow hikers and trekkers. I plan to join the Natural History Society in order to further expand my circle.” (Judy Lo, University of Sheffield, UK, October 2015)
“When I first came to Maastricht, I was pleasantly surprised by its superb environment. It is a small town and has all the buildings and shops concentrated in the town centre. I can get to school by bike in less than 10 minutes.
The ‘problem-based learning’ method used in Maastricht University is very different to that in Hong Kong. It requires students to initiate the lessons with little support from the tutor. I did some research to understand how their lessons would be conducted. Together with the university’s introduction day, I was much better prepared when the class started. I can now keep up with the class.
Apart from the studies, living in student accommodation has been great because I’ve made a lot of good friends. One time, there was a power cut, so we all grouped together to chat and we really got to know each other. I also visited Belgium, which is very close to Maastricht. The trip was amazing and the Belgian chocolate was really tasty. I hope I can manage my time better to explore more of the city here.” (Lung Tak-shing, Maastricht University, Netherlands, October 2015)
“The first week of class at Uppsala University was over so quickly. I am still amazed by the learning system here. Courses are launched by students and the course coordinators are students instead of staff from the department. Students design the assignments and invite guest lecturers.
Quite a lot of course materials need to be read before the lectures. The online forum for students to exchange ideas and ask questions helps me understand the readings as well as inspire new thoughts. The global economy course is pretty challenging for me, as I’ve never studied economics before. I’m using the extra resources to help me keep up, though.”(Wong Ching-man, Uppsala University, Sweden, October 2015)
“I am studying four modules at the University of Kent. After the first week of class, I would say I like it very much. The courses are interesting and I hope to explore more. The learning style in the UK is very different from Hong Kong. Professors and tutors have extremely high expectations of students. We need to finish all the core texts before lessons and we have to speak more in seminars. Self-study is the goal, which is why the lectures and seminars are only one hour long. I found that I really have to prepare really well before every class. However, I enjoy doing so because all the courses are cool although quite challenging.
In addition to studying, I enjoy hanging out with friends in Canterbury, where the university is located. We had a great time at the Canterbury Food and Drink Festivals in Dane John Garden. So far, I love this place very much. Let’s see what the next three months brings!” (Lau Sin-wa, University of Kent, UK, October 2015)