I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to visit and study in London. During the trip, not only did I learn to be more independent, but I also experienced first-hand the liberal study environment in the UK, giving me insight as to what studying abroad at universities is like, and helping me prepare for the university admissions process.
Travelling around London is not a difficult task. This is due to its organisation: the underground and bus maps are very clear and are very similar to their Hong Kong equivalents, so it is not difficult to get around, even without adult or houseparent supervision. As a result, I was able to visit Buckingham Palace alone prior to my leaving.
I made a lot of friends during my time at Chelsea Independent College, including people from Spain, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Lithuania, Romania, etc. I enjoy talking and interacting with people from various cultures. I also experienced a degree of culture shock of how European teenagers live, but it was not overwhelming. It led me to understand that I can survive pretty well socially when I study abroad in the future. I still keep in touch with my friends through social media until now.
Life at the student residence was a brand new experience for me. I needed to do everything myself, such as shopping for groceries on a limited budget and the laundry. Of course I have done these things in Hong Kong, but having had to do them all by myself for two weeks with no guidance was no easy job. Shopping for groceries and supplies is slightly easier, since I always went to supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s with friends, with whom would always look for the best deals. I was among one of the first to arrive at the CIC residence, and, when I arrived, I was informed of the existence of the common room. To get to know the people on my course better, I encouraged everyone to go to the common room and socialize – the common room was almost never empty before curfew. Spending time with teenagers of a similar age in a common room nearly every day was an experience I’d seldom had in Hong Kong, and I treasured every moment of it.
The Business and Finance course was another major highlight. The content taught was not exactly advanced or difficult, but the learning process was certainly new to me. There was not much time spent listening to the teacher teaching, but instead long periods of free discussion initiating from, but not necessarily confined to the assigned topic. I found this model of learning very satisfying, since we got to talk about whatever we found interesting, and were able to discuss these ideas with a teacher, improving our knowledge and understanding of the topics covered. Involvement in the classes and discussions was crucial to their success, and the contribution of ideas was almost non-stop, giving me a great deal of insight as to how European teenagers think as well as deeper insights into some business topics.
After the trip, I thought a lot about the current education I’m receiving. The lessons I had at CIC did not focus on rote learning and memorisation. We were allowed to discuss anything that aroused our interests, and, since our interests and passions are crucial to learning, I think that this model of education can truly allow us to learn.