Category Archives: Hong Kong

Study Abroad – Hong Kong Disneyland!

Hi everyone!

This week is the last week of classes at PolyU for the spring semester!  After 13 weeks of regular classes, we get a week off for Easter break and then exams start.  As everything winds to a close, we’ve been trying to squeeze out every bit of fun we can.

One exciting feature Hong Kong has is its own Disneyland.  While it is significantly smaller than its American siblings, the park is of course beautiful and easy to access via the MTR.  It also costs less than other Disney experiences!  We went on a Wednesday and the ride lines were quick.

Outside of “It’s a Small World” ride

Some standbys, like “It’s a Small World” were familiar, but others had a twist!  It is actually illegal to depict ghosts and spirits in China, so the haunted mansion goes by “Mystic Manor.”  I was surprised by how well timed and designed the ride was!

Mystic Manor

Overall, we had loads of fun and it was a cute and nostalgic reminder of home. Main Street USA was adorable, and it was fun to see the Hong Kong details throughout the park.

My FIT friend Stacey enjoying the Tea Cups ride!

All in all, I would recommend HK Disneyland, especially if you want an easy park to enjoy for a day!

Best,

Sam

Day Trip to Macau!

Hi everyone!

This past weekend we took a day trip to Macau, and it was a blast!  Known as the Asian Las Vegas, Macau has a fascinating mix of massive casinos and attractions as well as traditional Portuguese architecture and history.  With the new bridge that just opened in November 2018, China, Hong Kong and Macau are now all linked, giving you the chance to take a bus all the way there from the Hong Kong airport.  For $20USD round trip we were able to experience most of what Macau has to offer- beautiful buildings, glitzy casinos and the best egg tarts I’ve ever had!

Here are some highlights:

After first arriving, we took a tram up to Guia Lighthouse, a fortress constructed in the 1600s.  The view was great and the tram was fun- and super cheap.

The View from Guia Hill

Next we strolled from the fort through the streets, which looked like Europe to me!  You can definitely see the Portuguese influence throughout.

Ruins of St Paul’s Church

The Streets of Macau

After lunch, we took a bus over to the southern area of the country- where all the big and fancy casinos are!  However there is more to do than gamble- gondola rides, shopping and good eats abound.  We got egg tarts at the famous Lord Stow’s Bakery- so good we didn’t get photos before eating them all.

Gondola Rides in the Venetian Macau Casino

The Parisian Macau’s Eiffel Tower

Overall the trip was a ton of fun, and well worth the multiple buses we had to take to go!  I would definitely recommend giving Macau a visit, even if you don’t want to gamble- the sights and attractions are well worth the trip!

Best,

Sam

 

Weekend Trip to Ishigaki, Japan!

Hi everyone!

This past weekend my friends and I took advantage of a sweet deal on flights to Ishigaki Japan from Hong Kong, and enjoyed every moment of it!  HK Express is the only international service that goes to this island in the far south of Japan, so it was definitely an exclusive experience.  We were also there during the off season, and it felt like we had the island all to ourselves!

Here are a few of the highlights from our trip:

I went with 3 of my FIT friends studying abroad in Hong Kong with me.  When we arrived, there was a massive downpour but the skies cleared up almost immediately.

Nakamura-ya, Ishigaki Japan

For lunch we went to a magical curry place.  The chef at one point went out to his garden and got celery to add to the sauce.  The set meal also came with chai tea for dessert.  Would definitely recommend!

Kondoi Beach, Taketomi Island

After lunch, we took a high speed ferry boat over to an adjacent island.  The ferry ride was a highlight of my trip- it was like an amusement park ride.  Once there, we took a bus to an island known for its star-shaped sand and cats.

Yonehara Beach Equipment Rental

Sunday was beach day!  We rented snorkel equipment and got to see lots of fish- my favorite were these tiny, electric blue fish.

Another fun activity was going to Yaima Mura, which is an outdoor museum similar to Jamestown in America.  There were some historic houses and replicas, with exhibits on how sugar cane was processed, traditional dress, and dance!  The best part was the spider monkeys, which you were able to feed with the provided treats.

Here are my friends dressed in the traditional dress, posing with a Shisa.  The shisas are all over Okinawa and Ishigaki, and are placed standing guard at entrances to ward away evil spirits. We saw them all over the island!

The last thing we got to do was glass bottom boat tours.  After snorkeling, it was great getting to see the fish and coral out further in the water.  Plus Kabira Bay, where we went, was stunning!

We had an absolute blast in Ishigaki, and it felt so special because there were so few foreigners there.  Everyone we met was incredibly nice and welcoming.  Unfortunately, very few people spoke English, but it was great practice for my Japanese minor at FIT!

Studying abroad is a trip in and of itself, but taking a weekend to explore somewhere new was so exciting.  I would definitely recommend it, especially if you get a great flight deal!

Sam

Why I Decided to Study Abroad

Hi everyone!
It’s a big decision to study abroad, so I decided to talk a little bit about how and why I made my choice.  Here are some of the things I considered before submitting my application and packing my bags!
Fantastic Educational Opportunity
Production Management is a global industry, and a lot of that traffic flows through Hong Kong.  Being in the classroom with peers who will possibly one day work at the factories I communicate with from New York is amazing.  Seeing things from Hong Kong’s point of view is giving me a chance to understand both sides of the manufacturing relationship better.
I Could Communicate
All of our classes are taught in English, and almost everyone here understands enough that we have no troubles.  Not being able to understand what is going on, or being able to read signs is really challenging.  There are times when confusion arises, but it has never caused more than a miscommunication or a silly mistake.  Definitely consider wether you will be able to understand and be understood wherever you decide to go.
I Knew Others Going
This is a big one for me- even though I love a good adventure and have gone places by myself in the past, spending a whole semester some place I knew no one was pretty daunting!  Thankfully a few of my friends were also applying, so we kept each other accountable during the application process.
I’m currently rooming with one of my friends from back home, which has helped keep homesickness away- any time we need to talk about NYC, we can!  I’m not sure if I would have considered going if I didn’t know others interested, but I think I would have loved the experience with or without bringing school friends.
I Find Asia Fascinating
The world is huge, and this is honestly my first time experiencing it.  Before now, the furthest I had traveled was Canada, and right at the boarder at that.  Having the chance to explore Asia, and see the sights was a big draw for me.  At FIT I take Japanese, and I look forwards to being able to travel to Japan while I am here!  Hong Kong has so much to do as well, a month and a half in we have barely scratched the surface.
I’m Okay with Being Away from Home
Something important to consider is if you can handle being so far away from family and home friends.  I had spent about three months away last summer, and enjoyed it for what it was, so I was confident I could handle being away for the four and a half months on exchange.  However, I know it won’t be easy the whole time.  I miss being able to easily communicate with home (the time difference adds a whole other level of separation!) but we have all been adapting and growing through it.  I definitely miss some American things too.
Those are some of the factors I took into consideration going abroad.  It is not a small decision, but it is one I am so glad I made.  I have grown so much here, and am having a lot of fun too!
Sam

What to Think About Before Studying Abroad in Hong Kong

I am over a month into my abroad program and I am having so much fun! Hong Kong is fantastic and there is always something to see or do.

Me, under one of the lantern-lined streets

Now that I have been here for a little bit, I have encountered some of the logistics involved with being here. What should you know before studying abroad in Hong Kong? I’ll cover some topics below!

Conversions
Get ready for the metric system! Hong Kong (like most of the world) uses meters kilos and Celsius. A quick trick: to get a ballpark number when converting C to Fahrenheit, double the number (for example 19c becomes 38) and add 30 (roughly 68 degrees Fahrenheit)!

Apply for Student MTR Card
The student MTR card is a huge saver, especially if you plan on exploring! The fare saves you 50% of the regular price, and the savings add up quickly as the MTR charges by how far you go, not a flat fare like the MTA does in New York City. Once you get your student ID from the school, you will be able to apply.

Figure Out Your Cash
Back home, I rarely use cash, however it is incredibly useful here! Most stores and food places do not take card, or if the do they take Octopus Card (the HK equivalent of a MetroCard, but much more useful), which has to be reloaded with cash. Make sure your bank has low fees for currency conversion, otherwise your money will quite literally be less valuable.

Transaction Free Cards
Make sure to do some research on a credit or debit card that does not have fees before you set off. 1-3% adds up, especially when you will be spending over four months in a country! Additionally, I would recommend researching what is commonly accepted where you are going. The card I use back home is basically useless here. I opened a new card specifically for my time abroad.

Get Ready for a Different Diet
Any time you travel, your eating habits and diet will change. Personally, I have noticed there aren’t many dishes that include cheese. Most dishes have a base of rice or noodles. In New York, I usually have a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast, but I have yet to even see a bagel since I have arrived! I have switched to bread with peanut butter because that is what is available.

If you have any allergies, or are vegetarian/vegan, make sure to consider what food options you might have. While many people here speak English, guaranteeing a food is safe for you to eat might get lost in translation.

Language
Nearly everyone here speaks enough English that you will be able to communicate. However, it’s not a bad idea to get the Google Translate app. There is a function that allows you to scan text and translate within the app. This is great for signs around the dorms or for receipts, which tend to list out line items in Chinese!

These are the things that stood out to me the most so far, and if anything else arises I will be sure to update!

Best,
Sam