Audrey Zong, HKUST Exchange, Fall 2013
As Northwestern students, we are lucky enough to have such a vast selection of study abroad partner institutions that we can apply for. (For the European students, they have an extremely competitive process. Popular exchange programs can sometimes have one spot with 300 students applying). I am so grateful to have chosen Hong Kong because I really believe it’s the perfect location for me, and here’s why:
1. Hong Kong is glitzy, glam, and has an unbeatable skyline..
2. But also has the COOLEST outdoor activities. After a beautiful hike with an ocean view, you can find a white sandy beach and go kayaking!
And if you find, and follow and obscure trail from the beach, you can reach cliff jumping!
Where you get chased by line of cows on your walk back
For even MORE adventure, make your way through vines, branches, bushes, and scale a few rocks or two to find an infinity pool
Or hike up one of the top urban hikes in all of Asia- the Dragon’s back, and at the end, be rewarded with SURFING in mid-november!
Hong Kong has many outlying islands. Lamma island is a very cool one that’s only 20 minutes away by a $3 ferry. You can find this view on the island after a gruesome but exciting hike:
3. While campus food isn’t the best, Hong Kong is overloaded with restaurants serving dishes from all over the world.
4. Accessibility to other Southeast Asian countries
Traveling from Hong Kong to any of the Southeast Asian countries is so quick and simple. Most places are within a 3 hour flight! Last week, I went to Thailand and visited Bangkok, Ayutthaya, and Phuket! Below is a temple we visited in Ayutthaya since we didn’t make it to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia in the same trip. In these countries, it’s pretty easy to go off the beaten path and challenge yourself by diving into farms or villages, or anywhere that is not as advanced as what we’re used to.
Compared to Europe, Hong Kong is going to save you a bit of money, for food, transportation, and accommodation! Meals on c range from $3 to $5. Once you leave campus, it can range anywhere from $15 to $30 for a meal with friends. The subway and bus systems are efficient and cheap. For example, a 45 minute commute by bus then subway into the city center from campus costs only about $1.50 each way! Taxis can be quite cheap split among friends. On campus housing is very, very cheap compared to dorm and rent prices in Evanston. The entire semester will cost between $800 to $1000 (that’s 4 months worth!!!) Off-campus rent prices are through the roof, though.
6. The People
The people who come to Hong Kong to study and work are what makes Hong Kong so interesting. I’m glad to have chosen Hong Kong instead a European exchange program because I feel more of a challenge to meet new people from all over the globe here. In other exchange programs, it can be easy to get stuck hanging out with a handful of other Northwestern students in the same program and fall into a comfort zone. Also, when you leave campus, you discover that people are here for many different things, whether it’s work or travel, it’s so common to meet cool people with amazing stories and backgrounds.
After traveling to many southeast asian countries, I realize that Hong Kong as an English speaking city makes the experience much less stressful. While learning a new language is rewarding, it was mostly frustrating when trying to get around in, for example, Hanoi or Phuket.
But it goes without saying that YOU make your study abroad experience!