Tag Archives: 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

PolyU Exchange Student City Tour

Hi everyone!  This weekend I had the pleasure of going on one of the excursions PolyU set up for exchange students to join in on.  We visited 3 different spots and got to experience a variety of things on our trip.

The day started at 9am, meeting up on campus to take a bus to our first destination.  About 30 minute ride from the bustling city area is Repulse Bay Beach, a beautiful location with a great swimming area.  It is still a bit too cold to swim here, so my friends and I looked at the statues, shops and scenery.

Morning at Repulse Bay Beach

A bridge that promises to add 3 days to your life every time you cross

Me sipping an espresso at a cafe on the beach

After that, we loaded back onto the bus to get lunch!  We were served Dim Sum, a Hong Kong classic where everyone just grabs from the middle.  I was surprised at how many things were served, one after the other.  It was a great way to try lots of dishes.

Our next destination was Stanley Markets, where we were able to shop from local vendors for souvenirs.  I got a tee shirt that says “Hong Kong” in English and in Chinese, as well as a saucer to go under the potted plants I bought a few weeks ago. Shopping in the markets here is fun because you never really know what to expect.

Overall, it was great having a chartered bus tour us around the western side of Hong Kong Island.  I’m glad PolyU arranged the trip for us, and I’m looking forwards to the other ones I signed up for!

Best,

Sam