Seeing the northern lights and night biking on a Swedish island: how a semester abroad pushed the limits of this EdUHK student

Seeing the northern lights and night biking on a Swedish island: how a semester abroad pushed the limits of this EdUHK student

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Being an exchange student in Sweden prompted Kong Yuan-ting (third from the left) to explore things beyond her comfort zone.
Photo: The Education University of Hong Kong

A first sighting of the Northern Lights, painting beside an icy lake, tackling the Swedish language, and travelling to 11 countries in Europe all made for an incredible experience for student Kong Yuan-ting. The Year 3 student, who is studying for a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Creative Arts and Culture at The Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK), spent a full semester at Sweden’s Linnaeus University in 2017. Her stay there was great fun, but also a time full of rewarding and challenging experiences, both academically and personally. 

“From the classroom atmosphere to the campus culture, everything at Linnaeus University was so new and different,” Kong says. “We were encouraged to speak up in classes, and I mingled with schoolmates from Sweden and other parts of the world during projects and activities on and off campus. There was a variety of courses on offer for exchange students, ranging from the cultural impact of Harry Potter to gender equality, and they were all eye-opening.” 

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The five months away from home also marked her first-ever visit to Europe. Among her many fond memories, Kong says having to bike in the dark during a weekend excursion to the outlying island of Öland stands out as an unforgettable episode. “No bus was running as it was the Ascension Day holiday. So we resorted to biking, finally arriving at the B&B before mid-night. I was quite scared to bike in the dark, but this incident helped me step out of my comfort zone, confront challenges and solve problems.” 

Kong’s trip was made possible by EdUHK’s strong partnerships with leading universities around the globe. It was supported financially by various EdUHK funding schemes, including the International and Regional Learning Enhancement Fund (IRLEF). 

Established in 2013, the IRLEF provides up to HK$10,000 for every full-time undergraduate to take part in non-local learning programmes. These range from full-semester exchange programmes and internships to short-term study trips, summer programmes, and cultural exploration.

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The IRLEF is part of a broader internationalisation strategy set out in the university’s Strategic Plan 2016-25 to provide overseas exposure for students and enrich their all-round learning experience. This was recommended by the Quality Assurance Council in its Quality Audit Report published in 2016. 

In 2016/17 alone, more than 2,700 students took part in different non-local experiential learning programmes provided by EdUHK in more than 30 countries. The number of participants marked a three-fold increase compared with 2010. Dr Simon Xu Sheng-lang, who leads EdUHK’s Global Affairs Office, said the IRLEF, coupled with other funding support available to students, has made overseas exposure an integral part of student life.

“Regardless of one’s financial means, every single full-time undergraduate is encouraged to participate in a non-local learning experience at least once during a course of study at EdUHK,” he says. 

Find out more about programmes on offer at

Edited by John Cremer


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