Author Archives: Samantha

Study Abroad Reflection

Hi everyone!

I just got back to America after four and a half months abroad in Hong Kong.  While I am still navigating the jet lag (it’s a struggle!) I have had some time to think back on what I have learned over the past semester.

Getting to experience college life in another country is wild.  You get to meet your peers from other countries, learn from different teaching styles, and try out a new way of life.  Changing everything, from eating habits to sleeping schedules to living arrangements, is difficult.  But being out of your element gives you a lot of room to grow.

Part of why I wanted to study abroad was to try out life in Hong Kong.  As Production Management is an incredibly global major, there is a chance I might have the opportunity to work abroad in Hong Kong.  And while I loved living there for a few months, there are definitely some things I would have to consider before going there for longer!  Finding healthy food options was hard for me, and I definitely felt the time difference challenges when it came to connecting with friends and family back home.  While I could see myself possibly working abroad, it was good to try it out before taking a larger, more indefinite plunge.

Overall, I would recommend study abroad to anyone who is up for a challenge.  It is not easy, but it sure is rewarding.  Go in with an open mind and you will be surprised by everything!

Best,

Sam

Best of Hong Kong as an Exchange Student!

Hi everyone!

Over the past four and a half months, my friends and I have experienced a lot of great things in Hong Kong. Here are my top suggestions for you if you go abroad in Hong Kong!

Mr Wong’s – $10USD per person

All the beer (and sometimes wine!) you can drink as well as shared plates of Chinese food. Most go with a group to pregame for the horse races (more about those below) or on a weekend before hitting LKF (the main nightlife area). Personally I enjoy just getting to know people better, as it is a fun place to go out and socialize!

The Horse Races – free, with a free beer

Register in advance for the horse races (which run every Wednesday night) using the link for internationals and get free admission and coupon for free beer. Unsurprisingly it’s a big hit with the international crowd and lots of people go every Wednesday. When I went my friends and I placed a few $20HKD bets ($3USD) but it’s also fun to see whose chosen horse wins the race!

Hiking – just pay transit!

One big perk of Hong Kong is the ability to take a hike whenever you want! My favorite was Dragons Back. Once you get there it is free to soak up some fresh air.

Ladies Market – shopping street

Love to bargain? Want a knock off? Need funny souvenirs? Hong Kong has tons of markets but the best in my opinion is Ladies Market in Mong Kok. From fake Supreme shirts to paintings, you have to go and see what you’ll find! Don’t forget to haggle when it comes to pricing.

Flower Market – shopping and browsing

My personal favorite, especially at the beginning of the semester because I was able to pick up several plants for $20HKD ($3) which definitely helped the dorms feel like home. Go right before Chinese New Year to see the sea of luck plants and displays.

Beaches – just pay transit

Hong Kong has tons of beautiful beaches, many of which are easily accessible by public transit, and some which are more of an adventure to reach!  I would recommend Stanley Beach, as it is the easiest to reach and has the best amenities.  However it is fun to explore the options, especially when the weather starts to really heat up!

Those are just a few of the cheap and free things to do in Hong Kong.  If you play your cards right, you can have a fantastic study abroad at a pretty low cost!  I’ll miss the easy access to nature Hong Kong has when I leave.  There is truly so much to do!

Best,

Sam

Exams at PolyU – What’s the Difference?

Hi everyone!

This week was my last exam- my semester is officially over! Now to wait for results and travel a bit before heading back to America. Exams at PolyU are very different than those at FIT- I was surprised how the process works and thought I would compare and contrast the two.

At FIT, professors sometimes give a final project instead of a final exam, or do the final online, but generally the final takes place in the last week of the class meeting. You might get a handout with what to study, or the relevant chapters, but generally it is a cumulative review. Each professor is different however!

At PolyU, the system is a bit different. After 13 weeks of classes, there is one week for “revision,” when you can finish final projects, study for exams and generally take a breather before launching back into school. After that is an exam period in which each class is assigned a time, each block 2 or 3 hours long. For example, my exams were May 2nd 8:45-11:45 and May 6th 3:15-6:15. Multiple tests were administered in the same gym/classroom, which was set up in a similar manner to how the SATs and other standardized tests in America are given. Each desk had a bag underneath in which you stash your bag, and no food or drink is allowed. It is a very strict environment with lots of proctors checking to make sure you are following the guidelines. However, I did enjoy the serious tone and it helped me keep focused.

The past year’s exams are usually posted on the library website, which gives you a chance to practice the style of test to be administered. I found this really helpful, as otherwise I would have had no idea what to expect. Since the final exams count for a large portion of your grade- up to 70% for some classes- having any and all help is great.

It feels good to be all done with exams and ready to travel, but I will miss PolyU. It is strange to think I will never take another class there. It’s almost like having the feeling of graduating twice- once from PolyU now and again next year when I leave FIT.

What kind of tests do you prefer? Let me know!

Best,
Sam

Must Have Apps for Study Abroad in Hong Kong

Studying abroad in Hong Kong?  Here are some of my must-have apps!  Some you might already use at home, but a few might surprise you.  Even if you aren’t headed off to Hong Kong, they might be applicable where you want to study as well, or for travel in general.

Open Rice
This app is like Yelp but for food options in Hong Kong! They usually have menu photos, which are ideal for checking pricing and options. It generally categorizes by price and cuisine, allowing you to choose what is best for you.

Google Maps
My personal favorite app, anywhere in the world. Google Maps thankfully has all of the MTR (public transit) information stored, so it gives you a pretty easy navigation plan for wherever you might want to go!

Google Translate
This is very helpful, even if you just want to translate ads on the train! The scan and highlight feature allows you to take a photo, and Google Translate will pick out the characters. This is great considering you don’t have to type in Chinese to translate any photo or sign! Also comes in handy if you ever find yourself having a hard time asking for something, etc.

Facebook Messenger
Personally, I haven’t ever felt the need to use Facebook Messenger, but as soon as I got here I learned how much of a must have it is! Since people are coming from all over the world and many are changing SIM cards and using different communication apps, FB Messenger makes it easy to get in contact with others. Also it is great for group chats as it shows everyone’s info without them needing to be in your contacts.

Whatsapp
Similar to Messenger, WhatsApp allows easy communication. I like it because it allows me to text with my dad and brother who do not have iMessage. It’s great for group texts where not everyone has the same phone brand, and because it sends messages over wifi instead of SMS so fees do not apply.  You can also call over wifi, which saves a lot of money compared to international calling!

Klook
If you want to book any experiences in and around Hong Kong, check on Klook first! I saved $10 on my Disney tickets (read about my experience here) and got a free meal at Ocean Park (read about that park here). Some discounts aren’t much, but others have serious savings!

Uber
While Uber is technically illegal in Hong Kong due to the fact that is unregulated, the app comes in handy if you are out late past when the MTR (public transit) is out of service. Also, taking an Uber from the airport to the dorms after arriving in Hong Kong was probably one of the nicest $20 I’ve spent on myself.

Have any other suggestions for useful apps?  I’d love to hear them below!

Best,

Sam

Study Abroad – Hong Kong’s Ocean Park

Hi everyone!

It’s break week here at PolyU- well, revision week.  This is the time to finish all the papers, projects and studying after classes end and before exams begin.  To take full advantage of everything Hong Kong has to offer, this week I took a trip to Ocean Park!  Known for its conservation and marine work, Ocean Park is both an amusement park and a zoo/aquarium.  Since land is scare in Hong Kong, it actually rests partly on top of a hill and around it, so the park is pretty spread out.  You have to take a cable car or tram to get to the rides!

View from the cable car ride- a cloudy morning!

Once at the top there are loads of rides and coasters.  My favorite was the “Hair Raiser.”

One special feature is the two pandas the park has!  It was so cool getting to see them.

A giant panda lounging in his tree fort

After riding all the rides and checking out the panda and goldfish exhibits, we went to the aquarium in the park.  It was surprisingly big!

A round fish tank at the end of the aquarium

Overall I surprised how much there was to do at Ocean Park.  We went on a sweltering day (according to the weather app, felt like 89°) with the sun shining, so lines were pretty short.  I would definitely recommend sunscreen and walking shoes.

So that was my Ocean Park experience!  Hong Kong has so many cool adventures you can easily go on after a quick bus or train ride.  I’m always impressed by how much you can do just by riding the MTR (Hong Kong’s public transit system)

Best,

Sam