Nǐ hǎo! Neih hou! Hello from Hong Kong! My name is Meghan Pierce and I am a junior at Drexel University studying Electrical Engineering. For my Fall Term, I am studying abroad at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) for 4 months. I am extremely excited to be here and cannot wait to share my experience with everyone who comes across my blog! I have been in Hong Kong for two weeks now exploring, learning, and enjoying my home for the next couple of months. After taking a 15-hour flight from Newark, NJ to Hong Kong, I was extremely exhausted, but very excited. I took the flight with a fellow Drexel Dragon, Tiffany, and met two students, Jessica and James, from Rutgers University after landing. We all signed up for the HKUST shuttle bus to take to campus, so that we didn’t have to pay for a taxi or UBER. Since the shuttle was only departing at 12:00pm (Hong Kong Time), we ended up staying in the airport for 7 hours talking and getting to know one another. We talked about each other’s universities and what we were most excited about Hong Kong and HKUST. More students joined our group in the airport later on, which was great because we were able to meet others before arriving at the school. I met students from The Netherlands, Sweden, France, Canada, Spain, and Germany. I really loved that I was able to meet students from these countries.
The bus ride over to campus took about 45 minutes because the airport is on one end of Hong Kong and HKUST is on the other. Driving through the different areas of Hong Kong showed the unique parts of the city and the beautiful waterfront views. Once we reached the campus, the drive down the hills to the undergraduate halls were breathtaking. The campus is on the waterfront of Clear Water Bay, which makes it a one-of-a-kind learning experience. There are nine undergraduate halls at HKUST. When I moved in, I was happy to see that I had a view of the bay, but also shocked at how hot the rooms were. I already knew Hong Kong was going to be extremely hot, but I definitely did not expect it to be like this. I have had students tell me that I will need to use the A/C in the room because it is so hot, but I didn’t believe them until I experienced it. My roommate’s name is Youli and she is from Tokyo, Japan. She is majoring in Management and Marketing. We already started learning a lot about each other and she agreed to teach me some simple Japanese and I would help her with her English.
After settling into the dorms, Jessica and I went took a trip to the shopping mall via the closest train station from HKUST, Hang Hau. We shopped for SIM cards, bedding, and other needs for the dorms. After shopping, our guide (Kel) took us to dinner at Tsui Wah, which is a restaurant that started off really small and traditional to become a very famous restaurant chain in Hong Kong. The food was amazing and everyone was able to get meals from the different types of sections in the menu. I had the Tsui Wah Pork Fried Rice and it was better than the Pork Fried Rice that I usually get back at Drexel. Having traditional Chinese food was great because it definitely showed me the difference between the Chinese take-out that most Americans love to eat (like me) and what authentic Chinese food taste like.
During the next couple of days, we had the student registration and campus tours. We learned about the dos and the don’ts of the University and Hong Kong. The campus tour really helped everyone get used to where their classes would be since there is only one academic building and then the business school building. The classrooms are separated by elevator (lift) numbers and each lift brings you to a different section of the academic building. We learned about how to register for classes and how to get professor’s approval to take certain classes. I enjoyed orientation because I was able to meet more exchange students and understand what the University expects of us as exchange students. Classes started on September 1st and some classes delved directly into the materials, while some professor’s wanted to get to know each student they were going to be teaching for the semester. I am taking three engineering classes, a Mandarin Language class, and a Modern Chinese History class.
So far, I have done a lot of exploring and getting used to Hong Kong, such as going to the different malls; learning about the transportation system; eating out with friends at authentic outside eateries; and interacting with some of the locals. One aspect of Hong Kong that I really love is the Octopus Card. It is a card that you can use for transportation, groceries, and at fast food locations. I feel that this card is very useful because then you don’t have to walk around with large amounts of money during your daily routine because everything is on one little card. It is very useful because students get discounts on transportation and other perks. This card has made getting around Hong Kong very easy for me because I can leave my HK Dollars at home and just use the card. Greatest thing anyone could have!
I have felt homesick at times and I have been having trouble adjusting to the time difference because I want to stay up late to talk to my mom, sister, and friends and family back home, but they are 12 hours behind me. It has disrupted with my sleep schedule, but I am sure I can get on track with everything soon enough. Hong Kong is very unique and I know that I will have a great experience here. I hope to grow as a student and as an individual both inside and outside of the classroom from everything I learn here. Being able to come on this amazing experience still feels like a dream, but it is definitely my reality. I know my semester here at HKUST and in Hong Kong will be life changing, so stay tuned for more interesting facts and adventures in Hong Kong!