I had my last exam today. That officially means my time as an exchange student at Hong Kong University has come to an end. I have very mixed feelings about this. After a year abroad I’m ready to go back home to London, to see friends and family, and the things I’ve missed (which to be honest mostly concerns food). But, before then, I’m also so excited for the ten weeks of travel I have lined up. Not least of all because in Bangkok I’ll finally get to see Matt again. At the same time, however, I am really not looking forward to leaving Hong Kong, in the knowledge that it will probably be years before I’ll return (the humidity is making it easier to say goodbye but the BBQ pork buns are drawing me in). I’ve come to feel quite at home here. I still haven’t decided whether to get the money back for handing in my octopus card, or whether I wish to keep it as a small memento.
What have I learn’t during my time at HKU?
I’ve acquired a very rudimentary level of Mandarin and learnt lots about Chinese domestic politics and East Asian international relations, whilst realising how Western-centric my education has been up until now. I’ve made some new friends (friends which are spread across the globe, who’s spare bedrooms and sofas I shall one day exploit). I’ve also experienced a new culture, new styles of learning (which I have often moaned about – not a fan of group projects), and I’ve had an absolutely brilliant time. I’m not going to go into the pros and cons of HKU v.s. my home university, but I will say that there are two things at HKU which I would like to see imported back to Warwick University; that is the absolutely gorgeous coffee served in the learning commons (its so velvety smooth and the rich beans taste almost chocolatey) and the bean bags (for on campus napping).
I wouldn’t say that I have grown particularly as a person on my year abroad. No one back home needs to worry about me boring them senseless with tales of how I am so much more enlightened now. This extra year, however, has given me some time to think about what I might want to do after I graduate. Although I’m still not certain, the path seems a little clearer than before. I also now know that, not only am I not a lost cause when it comes to languages, but that I have more self motivation than I gave myself credit for. I worked hard this year, despite my grades not counting towards my degree, and that’s because I’m genuinely fascinated by what I study – perhaps I sort of forgot that to a degree whilst stressing about getting good grades last year.
Finally, thank you to everyone who has made my time at HKU so wonderful. I’m now going to seriously chill out, have some fun and make the most of this wonderful city before I leave (at some point I’ll face the packing etc…. eurghh)