September 26th, 2016
*Not many pictures in this post
At Drexel, I never really gave much thought to the international student community. But now that I’m actually an international student here at HKUST I’ve realized that there is so much adjusting that they go through. You have to cope to new living conditions, along with a new social atmosphere and academic rigor. This can be a stressful process, but I found it more exciting. I enjoy putting myself in situations I’m not used to because there’s so much to learn. Not just about the environment you’ve newly been introduced to, in my case Hong Kong, but even more about yourself. You discover new capabilities within yourself, making you more confident.
Now that I’m apart of the international community, I’ve also learned so much about other countries just from meeting other students. I have two classes that have group projects, and each member in my groups is from a different country. I have a group mate from Denmark, two from India, and another two from Costa Rica. Also, my roommate is from Singapore, and I’ve hung out with other exchange students that were from Egypt, Romania, Italy, Shanghai, and the list goes on. Being that we’re all in the same situation, having left our home country and adjusting to student life in Hong Kong, we’re all just so open exchanging our lifestyles.
My roommate, Tobias and I talk all the time comparing what it was like to grow up in Singapore vs in the states. One really interesting point about Singapore and other countries on this side is that all the men after graduating High School must serve their country before attending college. Tobias had served for two years becoming a certified pilot in the Air Force before having a bad injury and then attended University. A lot of conversations I’ve had with people left me to think about some of the things we take for granted back in the U.S.
I also made a new friend from Drexel here in the elevator. It was so random but so cool. I was entering the elevator with about 4 other people; I walked in first to the back corner and turned around spotting a familiar face, I’m just thinking in my head whoa I know you from somewhere. I look her way a second time to try to solve the mystery and she was looking at me too haha. I could tell we were thinking the same thing because we both were kind of squinting like I’ve seen you before. When we got off the elevator we figured out that we’re both Drexel students and actually had class together. And that was how I made my first friends at HKUST. She, another friend, and I all hung out for the rest of the day. Turned out she was from Egypt and the other friend was from Romania. We explored the campus and ended up hopping rocks at the waterfront. We climbed on top of this huge boulder that was the furthest out in the water and chilled there for hours talking about everything you can think of and enjoying the sunset. We talked about our childhood, what it’s like back in our home countries, what we like about the world, what we hate, our dreams and aspirations, why we went to college, etc. I felt like I knew these two all my life when we were done (I knew everything except but their names at the time). After that night, I concluded that with people everywhere in the world we’re all different but still the same. We all grow up differently being molded by different cultures, growing up in different locations, but we’re all still human so we relate.This is what studying abroad is about. These unforgettable spontaneous moments that you can spend with people you may never see again.