I was going to use this next blog to talk about my semester in South Korea but due to the coronavirus I was unable to complete my second semester abroad.
So I decided I will expand from my Hong Kong blog and offer my ‘what I wish I had known before going’ advice.
Hong Kong Specific
One thing that really surprised me about Hong Kong was how much they relied on cash or the octopus card (which could only be topped up by cash). I expected to be able to use contactless everywhere. Before going I had applied for a monzo card but this only allows you to withdraw £200 a month for no extra fee. This was not enough. So I would advise you to apply for a revolt card instead because they allow unlimited monthly withdrawals with no extra fee.
This may seem obvious but I didn’t bother to do it properly myself!! LOOK AT THE WEATHER BEFORE GOING. I knew it would be hot but I did not pack enough summer clothes. I brought so many pairs of jeans and jumpers that I just never wore and my friends also made this mistake. So pack wisely!!
On the topic of what to pack some of my friends did this and I thought it was a good idea. Instead of having to buy new bedding – when you arrive it is a big day out everyone going to Ikea and buying all your kitchen and bedding essentials. Some people were clever and brought old linen from home which they planned to leave it in Hong Kong at the end of the year. This meant they saved money as they didn’t need to buy a whole new set that would also just be left at the end of the year. This is a good idea if you have any space left in the case. Also in Hong Kong anyway to save money is advised as the living cost is expensive, a pint costs you £8, so saving on the bedding means more dingos dollars for the bevs.
Anyone planning on going to CUHK I would recommend applying for International House (ihouse). It is full of international students from all over the world and is very social. The thing I loved most about it was the balcony which had the best view. I would recommend applying for block 2 as you do get better views, block 1’s view was blocked by block 2. However, comparing roommates with my friend in Hong Kong, we all decided that people with local roommates had a closer relationship than international roommates, locals do still live in ihouse so the is still an option.
My friends and family were very generous to give me leaving cards and gifts to take with me to Hong Kong. The gift I am most grateful for was a journal. I am not someone who writes in a diary and I would not have thought to bring one myself. However, in Hong Kong each week I would write down what I had done and the funny memories. For the first two weeks I struggled to find the time to sit down and write about my first two weeks, when I did I had to use my photos to remember what I had done. So I am so grateful I did write it all down because it if couldn’t remember two weeks ago I would not remember in two years time, it is crazy how much you do forget. So I am grateful to have this journal which I can use to reminiscence about my time in Hong Kong in many years to come.
I would defiantly recommend applying for the buddy system that the university provides. I had such a close relationship with my buddy, she took me to her favourite local spots, taught me how to use chop sticks and some phrases in Cantonese. It was an amazing way to explore Hong Kong with locals and they were great to ask for any advise.
Another thing I was thankful to have whilst in Hong Kong was a small wheelie case. I took the bulk of my things in a rucksack which was essential but one thing many people didn’t bring was a small hand luggage bag. These were good for the trips away where you only got hand luggage included. Lots of my friends had to buy one or borrow a hand luggage bag. So I would advise taking both a rucksack and hand luggage bag.
I hope this was useful for anyone going abroad. If I can think of anymore I will add them in! Hope you have the best time, it is such an amazing experience.