In Leeds, I found that whenever someone asked me where I was spending my year abroad, they expected me to say Australia, Canada, America, or sometimes even New Zealand. I thoroughly enjoyed watching their expression after I said I was going to Hong Kong. It was nice to surprise them and challenge their perception of me. Perhaps if someone had asked me two years ago, my answer would have been Australia, or America, but during the application process I realized this year could be my only chance to truly experience a totally different culture on the other side of the world.
This incredible opportunity was the main reason why I chose Hong Kong, but it wasn’t the only one. It appealed to me because in Hong Kong I could have both city and countryside in one. I could be in the centre of one of the biggest, most populated urbanisations in the world, yet able to escape to wild rural surroundings within an hour. This is possible because Hong Kong is made up of numerous islands, many of which are uninhabited and incredibly beautiful.
Choosing Hong Kong as my year abroad destination was probably the best decision that I have made in like two years
— Veronica Torres (@Ocean_mars) August 20, 2017
Another advantage of living on an island is that wherever you are, you are never too far from the beach. The weather in Hong Kong is great. Temperatures are around 30 degrees in the summer and 15 degrees in the winter. For a Leeds student that means shorts and t-shirts all year round. So, making trips to the beach is always worthwhile (well, maybe not during typhoon season).
Before applying, I also knew I wanted to travel a lot. Since that was a priority for me, I carefully considered exactly where in the world I wanted to be situated. I had always
dreamt of travelling around East and South East Asia, so I started looking at cities in the area that also had good connections to those places. Hong Kong kept popping up as a destination, but Singapore was also a possibility.
Next, I narrowed down my search to where I would feel the most comfortable culture-wise and language-wise. I knew that wherever I picked, there would be a language barrier, but I reckoned cities that were the most international (in other words, accustomed to dopey foreigners) would be the right way to go.
After researching the official languages, culture, living cost and universities in each city it became clear that Hong Kong was for me. It was a big city, it was beautiful, it was in East Asia and seemed to be the ‘gateway’ to the rest of the region, and it was international. It also had a great university (HKU), positioned in an ideal location on the Island.
Honestly, I think coming to Hong Kong was the best decision I ever made. The HKU campus is gorgeous, the city is a lot of fun, the food is great, and cheap – as is the university accommodation (£140 a month), which leaves me with plenty of money to travel. In fact, I have already visited South Korea and have booked flights to Japan for reading week in October. So really, the question is, why not Hong Kong?
Photo credit: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/china/hong-kong