Testimonial – scholars 2012–13 (CH)

How do scholars feel about their award and life in HK? Let's see their comment here!

Antonia Fitzgerald, Manchester Metropolitan University

I came to Hong Kong in September 2012 to study business and Mandarin at the Hong Kong Baptist University for two semesters. I have now been studying away from my home institution in Manchester for six months, and in that time I have had the opportunity to expand my language skills, get a better understanding of international business, travel and meet some great friends from all over the world.

I would recommend the exchange programme to anybody looking to broaden their travel horizons and learn subjects and lessons that they would otherwise not have had the opportunity to partake in. My initial reason for choosing Hong Kong as a place to study was to understand different methods of business and how they are conducted in one of the biggest and most successful business hubs in the world, I also knew that it was a diverse country with lots to offer in terms of both studying and exploring.

The teaching at HKBU is of a very high standard, and this along with a substantial range of courses to choose from make it a great place to study. In addition to this, extracurricular subjects are on offer, which help give a unique insight into Chinese culture. In semester one, I chose to take a non-credit bearing course in Chinese medicine where students are educated in both traditional and modern practices, giving a great insight into subjects such as herbal medicine, acupuncture and concepts such as Qi and the meridians in the body. There are also many activities and trips that are organised by the international office to promote cultural awareness, meet friends and explore the country.

Another advantage of living and studying in Hong Kong is the opportunities available for travel in and around Asia, and I have been fortunate enough to travel around South China, Macau and the Philippines at very reasonable travel costs. I would definitely recommend Hong Kong and HKBU as a destination to study and I am very much enjoying my second semester and look forward to the rest of my time here and exploring Hong Kong and Asia.


Aydin Calik, University of Kent

Taking the leap and coming to Hong Kong has been, without doubt, one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. Your eyes aren't really open until you live in a far away, completely different country. I have not only learnt to appreciate Chinese traditions, but also, recognise the importance of my own ones. I was always expecting it to be a challenge, but I could not have anticipated the magnitude of this. To overcome the many difficulties I came across, I observed the way of life here, and tried my best to apply it to myself.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed and calm in my life, which is odd because there are around 7 million people in Hong Kong, and they are everywhere. You can’t move properly, but somehow, someway, it works like a treat.

I like to call Hong Kong ‘Two-Face’. On the one hand, it’s a concrete jungle, with the high-rise buildings, the fog, the lights, the people, the cars; however, on the other, it’s like a tropical paradise with beautiful sand beaches, warm waters and breathtaking views. I've been camping numerous times and it felt like I could have been on a beach in the Caribbean.

I have not only stayed in Hong Kong, I have managed to travel to many countries around Asia. From Kuala Lumpur, to Manila, to Macau, to the heartland of China, I've been there. Hong Kong has continuously inspired me to look forward, to think about the next step while engaging in one.

I always kept one thing on my mind: ‘Don't go a tourist, and come back one’.

Ben Miller, University of Exeter

I found out about the opportunity to study abroad in Hong Kong at the last minute, and about the British Council’s Scholarships for Excellence even later – so I had a busy couple of days getting all my applications ready!

I’d spent two years studying with students from Hong Kong in England, and this was what made me initially decide to apply to The University of Hong Kong (HKU). At the beginning of September, I was off to Hong Kong – both the first time that I’d been there, and to Asia! Arriving in Hong Kong for the first time over Victoria Harbour was spectacular. Be warned – Hong Kong will feel warm after Britain!

I’m studying Politics and Mandarin Chinese here. Although Cantonese is the lingua franca, friends recommended that I study Mandarin, as more people speak it. It’s useful to be able to recognise words, but watch out, as Hong Kong uses traditional characters, which are rather different from the simplified ones associated with Mandarin. HKU has an exceptional location on Hong Kong Island, and is a rare chance to live in one of the most exclusive locations in the world at student prices.

It’s hard to recommend studying abroad strongly enough. Hong Kong is an incredible place to live, particularly coming from rural Britain! There’s always something to do, and sometimes you have to remember to take a break from everything going on (in these rare quiet moments, it often sinks in that I’m really in Hong Kong!). As everyone knows, the city has a beautiful setting, spread over islands and the Chinese Mainland around a natural harbour, with a mountainous backdrop to the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island.

Hong Kong is central in Asia, so any break presents an opportunity to explore the region – a goal greatly helped by the British Council in Hong Kong. To give you an idea, I’m writing this in March, and so far I’ve been to Bali, Singapore (twice), Japan, China (twice), Macau, Taiwan, and to everyone’s surprise, North Korea! It’s a great way to see these places for relatively less money than travelling from the UK would cost.

I spent most of the month-long winter break in Hong Kong with my family, as there’s so much to see in Hong Kong itself, I felt it needed more time than my typical working week allowed. I promise, you will not regret studying in Hong Kong!

Benjamin Collop, University of Bristol

Where do I start? There have been so many great experiences in Hong Kong that it is tough to say. I arrived in September eager to explore the city and learn more about Chinese culture, although perhaps a little nervous at travelling half way around the world!! These concerns quickly vanished as I met many new friends, thanks in large part to the welcoming attitude of the people in my hall and support from HKUST. The view from the campus didn’t hurt either.

Having settled into life in Hong Kong, my preconceptions of the city have been transformed. I had imagined living in amongst the skyscrapers for a year. What I found was equally incredible: national parks and beaches to explore during the day, and the bright lights of the city for the evenings. This was something I had not expected, but definitely welcomed.

Another surprise was the variety of restaurants and shops; I have never seen so many shopping malls in my life, and with the city of Shenzhen a little over an hour away I’ve never seen so many things sold so cheaply!

If this sounds western, then you would be right. For me it has been a great half way house between China and home. Travelling into mainland China has been a lot of fun and a great experience, but I feel the culture shock would have been too much to study there; it’s comforting to know that no matter where you go in Hong Kong you will be able to communicate in English. At the same time I have loved exploring the various markets and eating local food, which certainly gives you a taste of China. For this reason I feel Hong Kong has something to offer for everyone.

Gemma Colucci, The University of Nottingham

When I look back to before I went to Hong Kong, I have no idea why I was so nervous. I had fears about everything! And these were certainly blocking my excitement. But now, every single thought back to Hong Kong fills me with happiness. I had the best four months of my life, met the best friends and visited the best places. Although it was important that I still achieved highly in the semester, I certainly paid more attention to the ‘abroad’ aspect of ‘study abroad’. As a ‘Geography with Chinese Studies’ student, it was important to me that I improved my level of Mandarin. Obviously, in Hong Kong, the main language is Cantonese, but the high level of language teaching at HKU and the opportunities I had to visit China, meant I improved massively. I was able to visit China three times in four months, as well as Macau and Taiwan. I thrived with the opportunity to practice Mandarin in real life settings, as well as learn about the culture first hand. Without the British Council’s scholarship, I would never have been able to afford such experiences. I was also able to travel to Malaysia and Singapore. I loved all of the places I visited; studying abroad fuelled my passion for travelling and made me want to return and explore all of the places I visited.

Although it may seem like I did everything I could to leave Hong Kong, what with all the travelling, Hong Kong has now become my favourite place in the world. I tried to see something or do something new every day. But I still have so much of Hong Kong to see! There is so much to do and I didn’t have a single dull moment. Coming from a small British city, I had no idea how impressed I would be by the bright lights of this global city. Every night I was wowed. But what I didn’t expect was the beautiful scenery, which is everywhere in Hong Kong. From the New Territories to the Outlying Islands, Hong Kong was stunning in every way. I feel so privileged to have studied abroad and to have seen such wonderful places. I was able to develop so much as a person and I am extremely grateful for that. All I can say is, I can’t wait to go back!

Ian Murray, King's College London

Arriving in time for the Chinese New Year celebrations made for a brilliant introduction to Hong Kong, with the international night parade as well as the fireworks over Victoria Harbour being particularly enjoyable. I have found Hong Kong to be a great place to live because it not only boasts one of the world's most dynamic cities, but also offers peaceful natural surroundings where you can relax at the weekends. The facilities at The University of Hong Kong are very modern and the campus is a comfortable place to study. Due to the relatively small class sizes and an emphasis on group work I have got to know my course mates very well and they have welcomed me into their close friendship group. I have also met exchange students from all over the world with whom I have experienced some of the many attractions that Hong Kong has to offer, such as the incredible views of the city from Victoria Peak. This is certainly the most enjoyable semester of my course so far.

Jessica Yeandle, The University of Sheffield

My year in Hong Kong has been the most amazing time of my life for so many reasons. Doing a study abroad at The Chinese University of Hong Kong has broadened my mind to a level I never knew existed. The experience of being taught Business here is fantastic, the teaching quality is second to none and the ambition and passion of the students is infectious. Hong Kong is a hub of excitement; I have loved exploring the old and the new, seeing beautiful sights and integrating myself into the culture. It has been a base for some of the most amazing travelling around Asia that I will ever get to do. Weekends away in Korea, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and many more have added to the truly brilliant time I am having here in Hong Kong. I never want this dream to end.

Lavan Thasarathakumar, University of Southampton

The study abroad has afforded me a plethora of opportunities that I would otherwise have not had the chance to experience. The choice to go to Hong Kong exposed me to a completely different culture and allowed me to meet some great people from across the world. A particular highlight for me has been experiencing the juxtaposition between the bustling city life of Central and the tranquil feel of outlying areas such as Lantau Island, which I find somewhat unique to Hong Kong.

Lucinda Spring, The University of Manchester

My Hong Kong experience so far …

Coming to Hong Kong to study on exchange from Manchester Business School was 110% the best choice I have ever made. From arriving at the airport, to six months down the line, I have loved every minute of being here. The opportunities for both studying and travelling are immense. Hong Kong is an incredibly lively place, with a buzz about it that nowhere else I’ve been has. There is always something going on, and I love the fast paced way of life.

Being awarded a Scholarship for Excellence from the British Council has enabled me to travel, and see other cultures a lot more easily than I would have been able to without it. Hong Kong is a central hub for travelling to other Southeast Asian countries, and during the six months I have been here, so far I’ve managed to travel to the Philippines twice (Cebu and Boracay), as well as Taiwan and Shanghai. I have trips planned to Thailand, Cambodia, Beijing, Singapore and South Korea throughout the remainder of the semester and during the summer break before I have to head home.

Studying abroad for a year has been an incredible experience, but there have been a lot of hidden costs, as well as challenges along the way. The Scholarship money awarded to me by the British Council, alongside the money I saved from working throughout during my studies in Manchester, has enabled me to obtain the perfect balance between travelling and studying. I’ve seen things, and made memories with friends that I will never forget, and will take with me in the future. I never want to leave, and would love to come and live in Asia once I have graduated from Manchester!!

I cannot express how grateful I am for the British Council awarding me the Scholarship, as it has enhanced my studying abroad experience massively.

Michael Sanni, University of Southampton

Studying in Hong Kong was a magnificent experience both academically and personally. In lectures and tutorials, I was able to experience the divergence in political orthodoxy between the UK and Hong Kong in a way no other aspect of my degree could provide. This exchange allowed me to take modules not offered by my University, and just as importantly, allowed me to learn from lecturers with different experiences and perspectives from those at home. Hong Kong in particular was poignant as it allowed me to gather research for my dissertation and grasp complex cultural issues in preparation for a career in diplomacy or international development. Hong Kong is truly a global city; living in this melting pot of Eastern and Western culture, norms and people is an almost overwhelming experience. From Hong Kong, I was also able to travel easily to Vietnam, China and the Philippines – an experience that even further enriched the cultural exchange of my semester abroad. Studying abroad in any city is an opportunity that is unlike any other at university; it had planted knowledge in my mind, cultural passion in my heart and a real curiosity in my soul. Hong Kong and its unique history, does this in a remarkable way.

Shona Lester, The University of Warwick

Spending a year in Hong Kong has, in short, surpassed all expectations. I so easily recall clutching my suitcase and staring out of the window of the Airport Express, mesmerised by the skyline: this was my year; this was my adventure. And an adventure it has been.

I am a student at The University of Hong Kong, studying Law, and receive world-class teaching on a daily basis. Despite cultural and language barriers, most students and staff are incredibly friendly and delight in sharing about their lives. Importantly, with all module choices offering both a Hong Kong and Chinese dimension, I can truly say that my understanding of both has been challenged and subsequently changed. I am intellectually fascinated by the history, politics and law of China and Hong Kong and am confident that this fascination will continue throughout my life.

The region, too, is incredible. From beaches to museums, temples to treks, to travelling, tai chi, cycling, sailing, waterfalls, shopping, light shows and, of course, not forgetting some of the best restaurants and bars in the world, the variety is unheard of. One of the most striking visits I have made was a trip to Yim Tin Tsai Village, an abandoned island near Sai Kung. Like a lot of places, there are definitely two sides to Hong Kong. Many people associate the region with bright lights, great food, and a fast-paced lifestyle, culminating in an image like the view from Victoria Peak. Here, I felt I turned a coin, the skyline disappeared, and I connected with the lives of the Hakka clan. Famous for its salt farming, the island was gradually depopulated during the 1980s and 1990s, with the majority of people moving to Hong Kong Island. Their abandoned houses, left to the wilderness, still containing household items, and framed by coloured doors, housed a sense of identity in themselves. Each house felt like a home, and this was breathtakingly beautiful. For me, the ability to connect so easily with the culture, the people and the landscape sets Hong Kong apart from any other destination in my mind.

In sum, I cannot express how great this year, and this experience has been. Gaining the Scholarship for Excellence settles any fears, and fuels all activity; without it, my year would not have been as absorbing, exciting, or inspiring as it has been.