Year Abroad Country Profile: China & Hong Kong

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Why should people choose the destination?

For me my decision to go to Hong Kong was easy. Why? Because it was approximately 5,000 miles away from home, with cultural and language barriers – not the “easy” choice. But when was the easy choice the best choice? I soon learnt that it was always tomorrow in Hong Kong, literally and figuratively, the city gave me a reason to get up in the morning and to stay up all night – the speed and intensity of life was the most enchanting and exhilarating experience. Not everyone would choose to study in China the country is so vastly interesting, so strongly cultured and limitlessly beautiful.

Travel / cultural highlights?

China offers a dynamic range of travelling destinations, from rural goldmines to international cities, not to forget the Great Wall. The culture of China is so endlessly fascinating, with a history of dynasties to revolutions, every setting uncovers China’s past and illuminates its growing economy.

Besides this living in China gives you the opportunity to celebrate the Chinese traditional festivals, giving you the opportunity not just to celebrate New Years but a Chinese New Year! Other holidays include Mid-Autumn Festival, National Day, Spring Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, so get used to fireworks, fire dances and lanterns because your year is going to be lit!

Other travel highlights include exploiting cheap flights and jet setting throughout Asia on a budget. I travelled beyond China, exploring the incredible Japan and throughout the endless beauty of South East Asia by travelling to the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar.

How was the process of adjusting after being in the UK?

Arriving in Hong Kong with little expectations made it easier to delve into a new way of life. Coming from a sleepy Irish village into the depths of a city that never sleeps. A new life that demanded adjustment to the language, the metro, small living spaces, densely populated streets, high rise buildings, time difference and new currency. But all of these challenges were trivial and easy to adapt too. Nothing was ever too large to overcome when you lived in Hong Kong. The city is the most welcoming, fascinating and happy place I have ever lived and soon I realised how comforting it could be to live with 7 million other people.

How expensive is it to live there?

In Hong Kong prices for transport and food were much cheaper than European standards. However private rent would be expensive, thankfully as a student the universities will accommodate you in student halls which are a steal. As for China, prices are even cheaper on living costs, seriously the cheapest place in all of Asia (Yes cheaper than South East Asia)

Best piece of advice?

Take advantage of the city and travel opportunities.

Make friends with both locals and international students. Making an international network of friends will be the easiest thing you could ever do and they will teach you more about the world than any institution ever could.

Learn some key mandarin.

Go with an open heart and don’t hold back. Despite any reason to be negative, embrace the good and bad and be brave ultimately the cliché is true if you are willing to leave your comfort zone, and willingly cross oceans and embrace new cultures, you will have the most immensely incredible time of your life.

Study abroad options available?

Mainland China – Nanjing University, Xiamen University

Hong Kong – Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, University of Hong Kong

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